The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston recently acknowledged that numerous priests and clergy members who ministered in churches, schools, and other settings in the Galveston-Houston area since 1950 have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. The victims of such abuse deserve justice and compensation for the suffering they’ve endured.
Not only should predator priests face prosecution whenever possible to prevent future harm, but survivors also have the option to file a legal action in Texas courts for money damages and other forms of relief against abusers and the Church leaders and institutions that enabled or covered-up the abuse.
Months after the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese released the names of credibly accused priests and clergy, the Texas legislature amended state law to extend the period of time that survivors of childhood sexual violence have to file civil lawsuits against their abusers and other legally-responsible parties for acts of abuse.
This change in law provides Galveston and Houston survivors of childhood sexual abuse greater opportunity than ever to seek damages and other forms of relief in court. It was a long-overdue, and essential, step to recognize the unique difficulties that survivors of priest sexual abuse, in particular, face in stepping forward to tell their stories and seek compensation.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we represent victims of sexual abuse by priests nationwide. We advocate on behalf of our clients to obtain financial compensation and other forms of relief in civil courts against abuser priests and the Church institutions that enabled them.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse by a Galveston-Houston area priest or clergy member, and you would like to learn about your legal options for holding the Church and your abuser accountable, then contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman for a free, confidential, case evaluation.
Our Galveston-Houston Priest Sexual Abuse Lawyers
Based in Florida and representing clients throughout the United States, the award-winning personal injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman have years of experience advocating for the rights of individuals injured by someone else’s wrongful actions.
Over our years of successful service for our clients, we have gained the knowledge and financial resources necessary to take on the most challenging and emotionally difficult cases, against even the most powerful institutions.
We invest significant time and effort into advocating for survivors of Roman Catholic priest sexual abuse. Survivors show tremendous courage in seeking our help, and we honor that bravery by devoting the full measure of our firm’s know-how to representing them.
Listening to our clients’ individual stories of sexual trauma, and understanding our clients’ needs and priorities in considering legal action, takes top priority for our team of compassionate sexual abuse injury attorneys. In every matter we handle, we aim to develop individualized legal strategies that serve our clients’ interests, and to make sure our clients know that they get to decide when and how we take legal action on their behalf.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman have a long and impressive track record of success in a wide range of personal injury matters, having recovered tens of millions of dollars for clients through settlements and jury verdicts. While we can never promise a favorable result in any legal matter that we handle for a sexual abuse survivor client, we can commit to representing all of our clients with dignity, compassion, and limitless determination to achieve the best possible outcome for their circumstances.
Expanded Time Limits Benefit Galveston-Houston Survivors of Priest Sexual Abuse
Considering how many challenges Galveston-Houston survivors of priest sexual abuse face in confronting their histories of sexual trauma, they should not also have to struggle for access to justice. Unfortunately, in the past, many victims in the Galveston and Houston areas have been barred from filing cases due to the previously strict statute of limitations laws.
As advocates for survivors have lamented, laws across the United States that set time limits for civil lawsuits seeking money damages for the harm inflicted by sexual violence have, far-too-often, fallen short when it comes to accommodating the needs of survivors. It can take years for survivors to come to terms with what happened to them, to recognize that they were sexually abused, and to seek help for the negative effects the abuse has had on their lives.
Historically, by the time many victims reached the point of mustering the courage to reveal their trauma and take legal action, the statutory time limit had already expired.
Fortunately, states have begun to amend their laws to account for the long and difficult healing process faced by so many brave survivors. Texas joined those states recently when it doubled the time survivors have to bring legal action, from 15 years from the date of the abuse to 30 years in most cases. The expanded time limits, which took effect in October 2019, apply to all potential claims that had not already expired as of that date.
In effect, Texas law now provides survivors with 30 years, from the date of their abuse, to reach the point where they are ready to take the courageous step of seeking justice and compensation in a Texas civil court. The law is not perfect—some states have gone even further in widening the window of opportunity for survivors to take action—but it is certainly a significant improvement that takes the unique difficulties survivors face into account.
Statutes of limitation laws also have complicated exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions, that can further widen the time period for victims seeking relief in Texas courts. For that reason, Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman encourage any survivor of priest sexual abuse that occurred in the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese to speak with us about your legal options as soon as possible. No matter how long ago your abuse occurred, you may still have the right to seek financial compensation.
Common Legal Options for Galveston-Houston Priest Sexual Abuse Survivors
Survivors of priest sexual abuse who contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman often do not know exactly how a lawyer can help. In speaking with one of our compassionate, dedicated sexual abuse injury attorneys, many victims learn to their surprise that they may have several potential options for seeking justice and remedies through legal action. These individuals also encounter a legal team that is 100 percent committed to advocating for the interests of individual survivors, and that appreciates every victim’s unique stories and intensely personal reasons for sharing.
As attorneys for survivors of Galveston-Houston priest sexual abuse, our priority is to listen to our clients’ stories and reasons for coming forward. Only when we have an appreciation for the long and often painful process that brought clients through our doors, and their motivations for taking the brave step of sharing their stories with us, can we begin to explore and explain legal options that those survivors may want to pursue.
We may recommend one or more strategies, depending upon what survivors tell us of their individual needs and goals. Frequently (but not always), our recommendations for action include the following options.
Filing a Lawsuit Seeking Financial Compensation From an Abuser and/or a Church Institution
One option that we frequently explore with priest sexual abuse survivors is taking legal action in civil court against an abuser and/or a Church institution, seeking financial compensation for the trauma caused by the abuse. In discussing this path with our clients, we acknowledge that obtaining money cannot erase the past, and for many priest sexual abuse survivors, it feels like an inadequate form of justice.
Still, financial compensation can give Galveston-Houston survivors the resources that they need to obtain support and to build a foundation for a new chapter of their lives.
Of course, in discussing the option of filing a lawsuit for money damages, we always make clear to our clients that there are no guarantees. We can never promise a favorable financial outcome. Every matter that we handle for a priest sexual abuse survivor has its own unique aspects that will determine its potential outcome. We can, however, promise to do our best in pursuing justice.
When you retain us to handle your priest sexual abuse case, you can rest assured knowing that you have a strong, well-respected team advocating for your interests. Our reputation as determined, dedicated trial lawyers precedes us and frequently gives our clients an advantage in negotiations and litigation against the Church.
Filing a Lawsuit Seeking a Non-Monetary Outcome
Although civil lawsuits for money damages constitute the most common path that survivors of priest sexual abuse in the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese pursue, by no means is it the only path available.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, survivors of priest sexual abuse frequently ask us if there is a way—beyond merely forcing an abuser or the Church to pay financial compensation—to ensure that their lawsuits have real-world impacts.
Every case is different, of course, but other options may exist. Courts in Texas usually have the power to force a party, such as a Catholic Church-affiliated institution in Galveston-Houston, to take specific actions to prevent future instances of priest sexual abuse. A court might, for instance, order the institution to make regular reports about allegations against priests, or it might force an institution to implement procedures to address the handling of credible allegations.
We encourage survivors of sexual abuse by a Galveston-Houston Archdiocese priest or clergy member to discuss their goals and priorities with us. By having that conversation, we can work to develop a legal strategy that advances those goals and priorities.
Assisting in the Prosecution of a Sexual Predator Priest
Sexual abuse by an Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston priest or clergy member is a serious crime. In many cases, the Galveston County District Attorney and Harris County District Attorney will seek to prosecute cases of sexual abuse in Texas courts. The process that government officials follow to decide whether to file charges often includes seeking input from the abuse victim, and asking him or her to act as a witness in the criminal case.
The lawyers of Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman firmly believe that survivors alone have the right to decide for themselves whether and how to participate in any criminal prosecution of their abusers. If victims want to testify against a priest, then we support them. If they do not, then we also support that decision. As attorneys for priest sexual abuse survivors, we advise our clients about their options for assisting (or not) in a prosecution, and we advocate for them with the prosecution no matter what decision they make.
Our Duty Is to Our Clients
For the lawyers of Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, there is no higher duty than serving our clients’ interests. We take an oath to serve as zealous advocates in courtrooms and settlement negotiations, and that is our goal in every action that we take on our clients’ behalf.
In representing survivors of Galveston and Houston-area priest sexual abuse, that duty takes on extra significance when it comes to keeping our clients’ confidences. Our clients share their most painful and difficult memories with us, and it is our responsibility to keep everything our clients tell us within the attorney-client relationship completely confidential, and to share that information only if our clients allow us to do so during our representation.
Determined Advocates for Survivors of Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Priest Sexual Abuse
Every day, the lawyers of Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman go to work with a singular mission: to serve the interests of our clients and seek justice and compensation for harm done to them by others. Clients who have suffered the trauma of sexual abuse by a priest trust us to provide compassionate, intelligent, straightforward legal guidance, and to advance their legal rights in and out of the courtroom.
If you or a loved one has endured sexual abuse by a priest or clergy member within the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and you want to find out about what option you have to hold your abuser and the Church accountable, then we invite you to contact us online or toll-free at 833-552-7274 for a free, strictly confidential, no-obligation case evaluation.
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