Few things fuel feelings of anger more than hearing about children being sexually abused. When the abuse is at the hands of a stranger, it is terrifying. When the abuse is perpetrated by a family member, the outrage and pain are palpable. However, when abuse occurs at the hands of a well-respected person in the community, the feelings are difficult to deal with, particularly when the abuser is a priest.
While the Boston Archdiocese sexual abuse scandal seemed to be front-page news from state to state, Texas was not free from a scandal in our own parishes. The Dallas Archdiocese kept up the appearance of “nothing to see here” for a long period of time before those abused started speaking publicly about the abuse they suffered at the hands of Dallas priests.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman are committed to achieving justice for victims of clergy abuse in the Dallas community; if you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse by a priest or church official, consider speaking with an experienced Dallas sexual abuse lawyer as soon as possible.
Scandal Rocks the Dallas Archdiocese Following Boston Outrage
Public outrage during the 1992 scandal at the Boston Archdiocese led to many victims coming forward with their stories. While many viewed this as a positive development, the Archdiocese of Dallas was later found to be harboring their scandalous secret. For years, Bishop Charles Victor Grahmann made excuses and helped shelter Rudy Kos from some of the most serious allegations of sexual abuse.
Despite being labeled by a social worker as “a textbook pedophile,” Rudy Kos was kept active in the Dallas Archdiocese. This is despite several red flags including a five-year-long unconsummated marriage, an incident where he was found in bed with a young boy, and repeated reports of Kos having boys summoned to his room.
Rudy Kos was removed from the church in 1992 and in 1998, he was sentenced to life in prison after a guilty finding on three counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of indecency with a child. It was believed there were hundreds of incidents of sexual abuse, and potentially more victims of Rudy Kos before he was finally removed from the priesthood.
Dallas Archdiocese Follows in Footsteps of Many Others
Unfortunately, the Archdiocese of Dallas did what many others did when rocked by allegations of sexual abuse occurring in their areas. They hid the truth from the public, and they prevented victims from coming forward by offering them settlements to go away quietly, often with threats or intimidation. Only once the matter became more public was action taken by those at the highest level of the church to remove priests from their midst who were credibly accused of sexual misconduct. Even then, some of these priests were allowed to continue serving.
Oftentimes, it took action from parishioners and pressure from local officials to have a priest removed from a position of potentially having access to more victims. Like in other priest sexual abuse scandals, it was a common practice in the Dallas area to reassign a priest accused of sexual abuse to another parish as a means of quelling rumors.
Hiding Church Scandals Has Hurt Victims of Dallas Priest Sexual Abuse
Because the church became so adept at hiding accusations of priest sexual abuse from the public, victims often lived with the pain of knowing their abuser was still free to perpetrate their wrongdoing on other victims. We already know from years of studying sexual abuse victims that it is difficult for them to come forward and identify their abuser. These concerns are common in nearly all cases, regardless of the age of the victim.
Some of these concerns include:
- Not being believed – Too often, victims feel they are not going to be taken seriously if they tell someone they have been sexually assaulted. This is particularly true when a victim is a teenager or pre-teenager. This is a valid concern since victims can often be manipulated by their abuser and be convinced the abuse is something they wanted or asked for. This type of behavior is common when the abuser is a respected member of the community.
- Shame and blame – Victims often blame themselves and have feelings of shame over the abuse as if they had any control over the situation. Many victims feel they could have stopped the abuse and therefore blame themselves for allowing it to take place in the first place. This belief often leads victims to feelings of shame which can be difficult to overcome.
- Reprisals and retaliation – Sexual abuse is about power. One of the tactics which are commonly employed by sexual predators is to threaten victims with harm. In some cases, they may threaten the victim or a loved one of the victims which can prevent some from coming forward.
Naturally, every case of sexual abuse is different, and it would be wrong to characterize every victim’s state of mind as being the same. However, the fact remains victims often are loath to share their stories for similar reasons. In some instances, particularly in children, denial that the incident ever took place takes over as a protective measure. This often results in repressed memories which are often triggered by hearing a similar story, or when certain events result in an emotional response that could also revive a buried memory.
Time Limits for Survivors of Dallas Sexual Abuse by Priests Extended
Holding someone accountable for their actions is an essential aspect of justice. While there is little doubt that victims of priest sexual abuse have had so many things taken from them, it may still be possible for them to hold the parties responsible for their abuse accountable.
Defrocked priests and others who helped hide the actions of these abusers can and should be held accountable to the survivors. Fortunately, as more victims have come forward, more continue to come forward and share their stories. There are third parties who have also stepped up and helped make sure these allegations are brought out of the hiding spaces they have occupied for decades.
Many places around the country have taken unprecedented steps to increase the statutes of limitations on civil lawsuits, and in some cases, on criminal lawsuits when it comes to accusations of sexual abuse. Some of this action is a result of the church scandals.
Strategy Makes a Difference in Dallas Priest Sexual Abuse Cases
Part of the overall strategy of holding priests accountable is investigating claims of sexual abuse against them. This means beginning an investigation into the allegations, including reviewing documents which the church may be reluctant to release. Survivors of clergy sexual abuse are often undergoing treatment with a mental health professional. Finding an advocate who can work successfully with the victim and their medical team is critical to the final outcome. One does not wish to traumatize victims when they are sharing their stories.
When serving as an advocate for a victim of sexual abuse, one must have empathy for the victim. They must also have experience handling sexual abuse claims. Furthermore, a sexual abuse attorney must be determined to show their client is entitled to compensation for the years of mental anguish associated with sexual abuse.
No Standard Compensation for Victims of Dallas Priest Sexual Abuse
An interesting problem arises when compensation is discussed. For some victims of priest sexual abuse, they obtain some closure, and yet others may feel as if they fell prey to another form of abuse. Sexual abuse victims often do not file claims for many years after the abuse occurs. This often means there is little, if any, compensation for the physical trauma of victims. However, the long-term mental health implications do not evaporate with a cash settlement.
Victims of sexual abuse often have problems maintaining relationships. They often wrestle with feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. Victims can spend years attempting to reconcile their feelings of anger at their accused. In many cases, the priests who were accused of sexual assault are no longer alive—this can leave victims feeling like they have no options. In some instances, states have taken action to set up funds to help victims of priest sexual abuse.
Dallas Churches Attempt to Hide Assets Before Filing Bankruptcy
One of the many challenges which occur in holding priests accountable financially for their sexual abuse is the Dallas Archdiocese threat to file bankruptcy to protect assets. Before filing Chapter 11, some moves the church has made is to reclassify assets to keep them from being seized, liquidated, or otherwise turned over to victims of sexual abuse by priests. This reclassification was specifically designed to prevent victims from having claims against the church. These reclassification efforts generally were pursuant to the Archdiocese filing bankruptcy.
Dallas’s Sexual Abuse Survivors: Strength and Bravery Constantly Evident
Sexual abuse survivors who can come forward and share their stories are strong and brave. What has been evident since this scandal first came to light is that there is also strength in numbers. These victims have found their voice and when they did, they were also able to find a support system with other victims.
Despite the trauma visited upon them, these victims hold their heads up high and they continue to amaze everyone they come in contact with. Families of victims often suffer immeasurable guilt because while they may have warned their children about strangers touching them, most parents never consider the possibility a priest would abuse their child.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman: Holding the Dallas Archdiocese Accountable for Priest Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is a horrendous crime and victims often do not know where to turn for help. Not only is there a concern of not being believed, but with the mounting evidence the church has helped shield predators, these victims often feel that even if someone does believe them, the church will take steps to undermine their claim.
Victims need someone who has experience taking on large institutions. You need the peace of mind of knowing someone is willing to hear your story without judging you beforehand. You want someone who will treat you respectfully, serve as your advocate, and fight hard to protect your rights. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is committed to helping victims of priest sexual assault and abuse regardless of where the abuse occurred or how long ago the abuse occurred. There was still a crime: you are a survivor, and you have rights.
We understand money will never give you back some things you have lost—trust in other people, innocence, and the comfort many of us find in our religion. We cannot help you recover these things, but what we can do is make sure you are not paying for the rest of your life for the care necessary to overcome the challenges from sexual abuse at the hands of someone you trusted.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman are committed to making sure victims have a voice. We have a thorough understanding that every case of sexual abuse is different. Because of this, victims have different outcome expectations. We are committed to making sure we listen to everything you have to say, understanding your expectations, and explaining the legal process so you have a thorough understanding of what to expect.
We know you have questions and concerns. We also know how important your privacy is to you and we will go to every length to protect your privacy. You can count on us to represent clients zealously throughout the process of holding a Dallas priest accountable for sexual abuse. You can learn more about the process and have your questions answered without committing to moving forward with a lawsuit.
Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today and schedule a free consultation. A free consultation does not force you to commit to hiring us to represent you in priest sexual abuse cases. We can help you understand your options and make sure you know what rights and protections are offered to you under Texas laws. You can reach our office by calling us today at 833-552-7274 or by contacting us through our website. Priest sexual abuse has been a growing scandal in the Catholic Church, and victims need advocates. We are here to help.
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