Santa Rosa Diocese Files for Bankruptcy Amid Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits 

May 9, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Santa Rosa Diocese Files for Bankruptcy Amid Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits 

In recent years, the Catholic church has undergone a reckoning with its history of concealing the rampant sexual abuse of children by clergy members. For many survivors of childhood sexual abuse, justice has been thwarted or delayed by a strict statute of limitations on seeking compensation for damages related to physical and psychological injuries sustained during the abuse. Across the country, state legislatures have made moves to allow survivors the opportunity to file clergy sex abuse lawsuits. 

This has caused significant financial strain for some dioceses that have been found liable for the damages of survivors. Some groups are preemptively attempting to mitigate their financial losses from having to reimburse these claims, as in the case of the Santa Rosa Diocese in California. The bishop of the diocese has announced that they are filing for bankruptcy due to the volume of claims they are facing. Dolman Law Group is committed to ensuring that survivors are properly compensated for their losses. Our team is available for free consultations to help you gather evidence, create a compelling argument for compensation, and maximize the value of your settlement.

Catholic Church Has a History of Covering Up Sexual Abuse of Children

The claims against the Santa Rosa Diocese are just one example of how the Catholic Church has been credibly accused of intentionally protecting abusers or ignoring allegations of misconduct. Multiple reports have confirmed the widespread sexual abuse of children. Most recently, a report released by the Maryland Attorney General’s office found that over 150 clergy members sexually abused at least 600 children over a period of decades. Unfortunately, this narrative is not unique to Maryland.

Survivors of child sex abuse across the country are filing clergy sex abuse lawsuits against the institutions that ignored or concealed the abuse perpetrated by their clergy members, particularly the Catholic Church. In these claims, they accuse clergy members of inappropriately exposing themselves, showing them pornographic material, groping, raping, or otherwise sexually assaulting them as children.

In some cases, the abuse included physical violence, emotional manipulation, or exposing children to drugs or alcohol as a method of coercion. It was not uncommon for the abusers to intimidate survivors into silence using religious stigmas related to sex and homosexuality. These actions have resulted in financial and emotional consequences that continue to impact survivors decades after the abuse took place.

Santa Rosa Diocese Faces Criticism for Bankruptcy Announcement

Allegations of unchecked child sexual abuse by clergy members have had a damaging impact on the Catholic Church’s reputation, and its coffers. Pew Research reports that in the wake of growing media attention on the Catholic Church’s failure to address predatory clergy, over a quarter of regular parishioners have scaled back their donations to the Church. Many dioceses are also finding themselves embroiled in financial turmoil as they are found liable for the damages of survivors.

According to Bishop Robert Vasa, the Santa Rosa Diocese is facing over 200 sex abuse claims, the value of which is comparable to or exceeds the diocese’s estimated assets. As a result, the diocese has declared bankruptcy. These claims have been made possible by a new California law that has created a window of three years for child sex abuse survivors to make claims. This law is instrumental in allowing survivors of child sex abuse to seek the justice they are entitled to, as many people who were sexually abused as children do not immediately report the abuse.

Despite the Santa Rosa Diocese’s protests that it has limited resources, clergy sex abuse attorneys for survivors say that this is merely a ploy to safeguard the true extent of the Church’s assets from civil litigation. The Santa Rosa Diocese hopes to exclude their parishes and schools from consideration during bankruptcy, as they were established as separate entities over five years ago. Representatives for survivors argue that excluding certain Church assets would effectively limit the compensation available to deserving survivors, compounding the damage that has already been done.

Recovering Compensation for Damages in a Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuit

In the clergy sexual abuse lawsuits, plaintiffs have laid out how the trauma they experienced as children continues to impact their lives today. Survivors may develop mental health issues such as PTSD or depression, addiction, that can affect their careers, relationships, and overall quality of life. This trauma have a profound effect on a person’s emotional health and financial stability. 

In a personal injury lawsuit, compensatory damages are intended to offer reimbursement for these types of losses in order to make the plaintiff whole again. Plaintiffs may seek economic damages for the monetary losses they have sustained, such as the cost of receiving therapy. They can also claim non-economic damages, which compensate the injured party for the invisible losses they have incurred.

Examples of Damages in a Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuit:

Why Choose Dolman Law Group for My Catholic Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

The negligence of religious institutions in protecting children and preventing sexual abuse should not go unanswered. The personal injury attorneys of Dolman Law Group have been dependable advocates for survivors of childhood sexual abuse for over a decade, helping to acquire financial relief for injured parties.

Our team has a long record of excellent service, which can be seen not only in our sterling reputation among clients but also in our case results. We consistently recover maximum compensation for our clients by relying on our dependable work ethic, sharp legal instincts, and years of experience as personal injury attorneys.

We understand what a fair settlement may mean for your family’s financial future and your peace of mind. As your clergy child sex abuse lawyers, you can rely on our team to handle your case with the sensitivity and respect it deserves as we go above and beyond to secure you the maximum compensation you deserve in a clergy child sex abuse lawsuit.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Clergy Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Survivors of child sex abuse deserve to be compensated for the trauma they have endured due to negligence on the part of liable institutions. At Dolman Law Group, it is our privilege to represent survivors as they pursue justice for the physical, emotional, and financial harm they sustained. Our team of Catholic clergy sex abuse attorneys will persistently negotiate for the maximum compensation you deserve.

You can rest assured that if it becomes necessary to take your claim to court, our trial attorneys have the experience and reputation to effectively represent your interests and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. We understand that childhood sexual abuse has consequences that last into adulthood, and we are committed to pursuing the compensation you need and holding negligent institutions accountable to address this.

While the Catholic Church has dominated the headlines on this topic, other Christian denominations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, have been rife with similar scandals. If you or your child is a survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by a clergy member, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages in a personal injury lawsuit. The clergy sex abuse lawyers of Dolman Law Group are available to meet with you for a free consultation to discuss the details of your claim, the extent of your damages, and the process of navigating a personal injury claim.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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