Roman Catholic priests in Atlanta who committed sexual abuse against young parishioners deserve to be held accountable for their actions. So do Church leaders and institutions involved in facilitating or covering up that abuse. Criminal charges against abuser priests can deliver some measure of justice, when they happen. However, many survivors of priest sexual abuse in Atlanta can also take their own steps to see justice done by pursuing legal actions for compensation against their abusers and the Church.
The priest sexual abuse accountability organization Bishop Accountability maintains a website collecting and publishing information about allegations of Catholic priest sexual abuse in Atlanta and elsewhere. Even though the tragic toll of sexual abuse of young parishioners by priests is now well-known, the Church continues to face new allegations as survivors step forward.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman are affiliated law firms that represent clients across the United States who endured the trauma of sexual abuse by a priest and who now want to step forward to seek compensation from their abusers and the Church institutions that facilitated and/or covered up that abuse.
If you live in Atlanta and would like to learn about your options for holding a priest and/or the Church accountable for the harm of sexual abuse inflicted on you, then contact our Archdiocese of Atlanta Catholic Priest Sexual Abuse Lawyers for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation today.
Advocates For Atlanta Survivors of Priest Sexual Abuse
The lawyers of Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman spend their careers advocating for people who suffered harm because of someone else’s wrongful actions. Our firms are based in Florida and enjoy a nationwide reputation as determined, compassionate attorneys who have the skill and resources to take on even the most challenging, emotionally difficult matters for injured clients.
Representing survivors of sexual violence committed by Roman Catholic priests constitutes a significant part of our firms’ collective practice. Our clients in these cases have endured unspeakable trauma. We give their cases the full attention and effort they deserve, focused first and foremost on developing and implementing sound, effective legal strategies that fit our clients’ individual needs and priorities. Every client who seeks our help has a unique story and deeply personal reasons for stepping forward to share it. We honor and respect the courage it takes to do so, and commit our firms’ resources to seeing justice done.
Our commitment to getting results tailored to fit our clients’ needs has resulted in significant financial recoveries over the years. It has also led to us developing a strong knowledge base from which to draw in pursuing claims for compensation against individual priests and the Roman Catholic Church. Not all firms have the resources and experience to take on a powerful institution like the Church and win, but we do.
Of course, our firms can never promise that a client will recover damages in a legal action against the Church or an abuser priest. However, we can and do commit to deliver compassionate, personalized, sophisticated legal services to clients seeking justice and compensation for the harm inflicted on them as children and teens.
Georgia’s Hidden Predator Protections for Priest Sexual Abuse Survivors
For years, survivors of sexual abuse by priests in the Atlanta area suffered largely in silence. Survivors, however, have known the extent of the problem long before the Atlanta diocese publicly acknowledged credible allegations against priests in its ranks dating back more than a half-century.
Georgia’s laws setting time limits on legal actions seeking compensation for sexual abuse did not accommodate the length of time it took many survivors to come to terms with the trauma they had endured. By the time survivors were ready to tell their stories, Georgia “statutes of limitation,” like laws in many other states, barred their access to the courts. They had simply run out of time to take action.
In 2015, however, Georgia law took a meaningful turn for the better by expanding time limits for survivors of sexual abuse in childhood to take legal action against their abusers and institutions that facilitated, enabled, or turned a blind eye to abuse.
With the passage of the Hidden Predator law, survivors of sexual abuse committed when they were children or teenagers could take legal action until the latter of:
- Their 23rd birthday; or
- Two years from the date when they discovered, or reasonably could have discovered, that what happened to them as children or teens constituted sexual abuse.
This long-overdue change to Georgia law gave survivors of priest sexual abuse new hope that the doors to Georgia courts would remain open long enough for them to come to terms with and reveal their legitimate claims of sexual abuse by priests and the Church. These measures give survivors of Catholic priest sexual abuse in the greater Atlanta region potentially powerful tools to seek justice and compensation for the harm done to them as children and teens.
Still, many advocates in Georgia believe the law did not go far enough. A bill currently pending in the Georgia legislature would grant rights to even more survivors if it becomes law. The Child Victim Protection Act of 2020 proposes to expand even further the time limits for taking legal action against sexual abusers and their enablers. Under the law proposed, survivors of priest sexual abuse would allow any survivor age 52 or younger to take legal action against a priest or the Church for past sexual abuse, no matter how long ago it occurred, for a fixed period of time.
Passage of this law (which has for now been delayed by a slowdown in the legislature’s business due to the pandemic) would likely grant access to the courts to many survivors whose legal claims had otherwise already expired. In the meantime, survivors still have the benefit of existing “Hidden Predator” protections. So, no matter how long ago a priest committed sexual abuse against you, we encourage you to speak with the compassionate lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman right away to learn about your rights.
Seeking Justice and Accountability for Atlanta Priest Sexual Abuse
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman lawyers understand that deciding to step forward with an allegation of priest sexual abuse in Atlanta takes immense courage and emotional strength. We also appreciate and honor the wide variety of reasons our clients have for making that decision. Some simply want justice. Others need financial support in confronting their past. Nearly all want to do their part to protect today’s children and teens from sexual predation by Catholic priests.
No matter our clients’ reasons and motivations for coming forward, the lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman commit our full efforts to developing appropriate, effective legal strategies that serve their goals and priorities. We aim to give our clients clear, sensible advice about the range of options they may have for seeking justice and accountability against abuser priests and Atlanta Catholic Church institutions. We also work to ensure that our clients feel in control of their cases. We take action on our clients’ behalf only when our clients are ready to proceed.
The legal options many of our clients have to consider frequently include:
Civil Legal Claims for Financial Compensation
In the American justice system, money represents the principal means of setting wrongs right. Money is far from a perfect fix to the trauma suffered by survivors of Atlanta priest sexual abuse. It cannot take away the pain or erase the betrayal they endured. Money can, however, provide support for survivors as they continue to cope with their histories of abuse. Payments by the Church can also give survivors a sense that the Church acknowledges the harm it helped to inflict on them.
Some of our clients want to know how much money a claim might involve. The honest answer is that it varies widely and depends on their particular experience. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman lawyers understand that every survivor has a unique story to tell, and our mission in every case is to listen, understand, and then pursue the strongest possible claim on our clients’ behalf against any party who may have legal liability for the harm they suffered.
Civil Legal Claims Seeking Injunctive Relief
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman attorneys also understand that some of our clients want to see more than financial justice. Instead, they want any legal action they take to make a direct change in how priests and Church institutions behave. For those clients, our teams may also explore the possibility of asking courts to grant injunctive relief, which is legal terminology for ordering a party to take specific steps or actions. In other parts of the country, courts have ordered Church institutions to make changes that increase transparency and legal accountability when someone accuses a priest of wrongdoing, for example. We encourage our clients to speak with us about the outcome they would like to achieve by taking legal action, so that we can do our best to shape a legal strategy to serve their goals.
Supporting a Criminal Prosecution
Atlanta priests who sexually abused children and teens committed horrific crimes. Georgia law punishes sexual violence against children severely, and it usually falls to local district attorneys in each of Georgia’s 159 counties to decide whether and when to file those charges against a priest. In making that decision, district attorneys will often take the willingness of the survivor to testify against an accused priest into consideration. A survivor’s testimony can often mean the difference between a prosecutor filing charges and not, or between a jury choosing between guilt and innocence.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman lawyers frequently advise clients who suffered priest sexual abuse about whether, when, and how to assist prosecutors in pursuing criminal charges against an accused priest. There is no “right” or “wrong” decision for a survivor to make. A criminal proceeding exists separate-and-apart from any legal action the survivor decides to take seeking compensation from a priest or Church institutions. We help survivors weigh their options and then develop effective legal strategies to protect their rights and pursue their interests.
We Take Attorney-Client Relationships Seriously
Survivors of Atlanta priest sexual abuse show unfathomable courage and strength in telling us and others their stories. Doing so often requires them to re-live painful moments and to reopen traumatic wounds. For that reason, we frequently advise our clients to construct a durable emotional support network to help them through the inevitable ups-and-downs of the legal process. We also take care to reassure our clients that, no matter what, everything they tell us about their histories of abuse remains totally confidential unless and until they give us permission to reveal it to others in the course of taking action on their behalf. Our sole, sworn duty as attorneys is to our clients. It is the foundation of the trust they put in us to serve their interests.
Lawyers for Atlanta Priest Sexual Abuse Survivors
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we work day-in, day-out to advocate for brave survivors of Catholic priest sexual abuse. Clients come to us with a wide range of reasons and motivations for stepping forward with an accusation against a member of the clergy and the Church. We commit the full measure of our skill and resources to providing legal services designed to meet our client’s needs and to achieve their goals.
If you suffered sexual abuse as a child or teen perpetrated by an Atlanta-area Catholic priest and would like to learn about your legal options for seeking justice and compensation in Georgia courts, then the experienced, determined sexual abuse injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman invite you to reach out immediately. We represent survivors of priest sexual abuse throughout the United States. Contact us online or by phone at 833-552-7274 for a free, 100 percent confidential, no-obligation case evaluation.
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