StoneBridge Report Reveals Important Information on Clergy Sexual Abuse

July 20, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
StoneBridge Report Reveals Important Information on Clergy Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse of Children By Catholic Clergy According to StoneBridge Report

Since the early 1990s, the Catholic Church has been mired in sexual abuse scandals. As recently as 2019, more than 4,400 allegations of sexual abuse by the clergy were reported. In December 2019, Pope Francis issued a press release stating he was removing the “Rule of Pontifical Secrecy”. This rule was an element of church law that required sensitive information regarding the Catholic Church to be kept confidential, allowing church officials to withhold information from victims or legal authorities. The Pope's intentions were to end papal secrecy and increase transparency in the long-running Catholic sexual abuse scandals. In the 2019 Annual Report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection shows that 4,220 child sexual abuse survivors filed 4,434 allegations toward the church. Of these allegations, 37% were filed under lawsuit. In the allegations, a total of 2,982 clergy members have been accused of sexual abuse: 2,623 priest, 46 deacons, and 313 others.

StoneBridge Business Partners

In response to Pope Francis' statement, the U.S. bishops hired StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester New York. StoneBridge is a specialty consulting firm that provides forensic, internal, and compliance auditing services to large, national organisations. From July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, the firm sent auditors to 64 diocese and eparchies while retrieving data from another 130 locations. In the report they found 3 dioceses not in compliance to the Dallas Charter and another 3 dioceses choosing to not participate in the audit.

Not Incompliance

  • The Diocese of Oakland, California
  • The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia
  • St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy (Chicago)

Not Participating

  • Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace (New York)
  • Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle (California)
  • Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicolas (Chicago)
Under canon law, dioceses and eparchies can choose not to participate in the audit but was recommended by the church to do so. During this time period, the auditor were given direction to locate and collect information pertaining to the gender and age of the abused and the date it occurred. After reviewing all the information, StoneBridge Business Partners final summary stated that:
  • 82% of survivors were male,
  • 18% of survivors were female,
  • 22% of the abused were 9 years of age,
  • 59% of the abused were between the ages of 10-14,
  • and 19% of the abused were between the ages of 15-17.
In addition to this report, the auditors identified that 88% of the accused were priests ordained in the diocese or eparchy where the sexual abuse allegations occurred. Also, 57% of priest and deacons that were identified as the offenders had also been previously reported for sexual abuse. The audit was also able to show that of those churches that responded to the survey, they paid out over $240 Million in 2018 for sexual abuse allegations. This figure rose to $280 Million in 2019.

Legal Recourse for Clergy Sexual Abuse

Victims have many and varied reasons for telling their stories of clergy sexual abuse. Some are motivated by a desire for personal closure. Others want to see justice done at long last. In our experience, nearly all want to help prevent clergy sexual abuse against other church attendees. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we believe there is no single right reason to pursue legal action against clergy sexual abuse. No matter what our clients' reasons, our aim is to provide sound, sensible, honest, and straightforward legal advice that allows them to make the best decision about how to proceed, and what recourse to seek. Options that are available to Catholic sexual abuse victims include:

Monetary Damages

Money damages constitute a “remedy” available in almost any civil action, including those seeking justice for clergy sexual abuse. Of course, money on its own cannot heal the deep wounds of clergy sexual abuse. But it can help to compensate survivors for costs inflicted by that abuse, for the difficulties they have faced, and for the expense of future treatment to help them recover. Those that suffer sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic clergy can suffer in ways that directly affect their finances. Sexual abuse often causes severe psychological issues that require extensive treatment. This treatment can lead to bills piling up to pay for therapy, psychologist consultation, and medication. Sexual abuse victims can have the trauma of their abuse interfere with their work as well affecting their finances even further. Every case is different, so what someone received in one case may not be the same in another. Everything depends on the unique facts of the case. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our team works closely with our clients to find ways to receive the financial compensation that can help provide a measure of justice.

Injunctive Relief

The legal term 'injunctive relief' refers to a court order that directs a party to perform some specific. task. In civil legal actions alleging clergy sexual abuse, some survivors have been able to achieve injunctions directing church organizations to take certain steps aimed at preventing future incidents of abuse. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA attorneys also work with clients to identify ways for seeking injunctive relief. As with monetary damages, every case is different and may require a different injunctive approach. We aim to give our clients a realistic appraisal of the potential for this type of relief. [Were you abused by someone in the Catholic Church in Florida?]

What can I expect from a Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer?

When a victim of clergy sexual abuse approaches a law firm, the lawyers will want to meet the survivor to hear their story. When meeting with an attorney, everything discussed will be strictly confidential between the victim and attorney. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, the meeting is also free of charge and free from obligation, which means that just because you met with an attorney doesn't mean you have to pursue any legal action. Our team's job in the initial meeting is to listen to your story and give our impression of a person's potential legal options. We want our clients to understand the process and their options without feeling any pressure to take legal action if the client isn't ready to take the next step. Victims of a clergy sexual abuse that do decide to move forward with retaining an attorney to pursue monetary damages or other forms of relief will work closely with their attorney in gathering evidence to support their claim. This experience can be taxing for a client, which is why we encourage our clients to have a support system around them to help ease the suffering.  The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA team will work tirelessly to educate the client with all the advice and legal options based on the findings and what the evidence shows. When the evidence supports a potential civil claim for compensation, an experienced clergy sexual abuse attorney will describe those options to the client. Attorneys typically discuss the types of claims the client might make, the parties who may be legally liable, and any complication the attorney anticipates the case might encounter. An attorney can never guarantee an outcome. But we will work to give the client a reasonable assessment of what range of damages might be possible, and of the investment of time and effort that taking legal action would involve. Then, it is the client's decision—and the client's decision alone—whether to move forward with a claim for clergy sexual abuse.

Attorneys for Victims of Florida Clergy Sexual Abuse

The law firm of Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA helps people who have endured clergy sexual abuse evaluate their legal options and pursue the path to justice and accountability that suits them best. Representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse is some of the most important work our team does. The strength and bravery shown by survivors simply in meeting with us proves, time and again, why they deserve the most sophisticated, dedicated, and compassionate legal representation available; and that is what we strive to provide. If you have questions about seeking legal remedies relating to an allegation of clergy sexual abuse, then the sexual abuse lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA want to help you to understand your options. Contact us today to schedule your confidential, free, and no-obligation consultation. You can reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA online, in the chatbox below, or by phone at 727-451-6900. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900


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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