Houston Clergy Abuse Lawyer

 

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Sexual clergy abuse has occurred in many parts of the U.S. Though churches, temples, and other religious institutions should provide a safe and trustworthy environment, several people suffer abuse at the hands of clergy members. If you're a victim of clergy abuse, you can hold your abuser liable for their actions and claim damages. Consider hiring a Houston clergy abuse lawyer to ensure you get justice and are rightfully compensated. 

Understanding Clergy Abuse

According to Bishop Accountability, the Roman Catholic Church has received a lot of attention regarding allegations of clergy abuse. However, sexual misconduct or clergy abuse isn't limited to a single faith.  For example, in 2019, the Southern Baptist Convention gave a detailed report on the rising rate of sexual abuse within their congregation nationwide. Likewise, the Methodist Church issued a similar statement on sexual misconduct between the clergy and the church community. Clergy sexual abuse also occurs in other religions, including Islam and Judaism.  States have enacted legislation that makes it easier for victims to take criminal and civil legal action against their abusers. Those who witness the abuse but failed to protect the victim can also be charged. These sexual abuse laws give victims the tools to seek justice and compensation regardless of religious affiliation. 

Legislation Laws

Texas has legislation that allows victims to revive criminal charges and claims for clergy abuse. This ensures that survivors can get the justice they deserve without the limitations of a deadline.  According to the CHILD USA, several states now allow survivors to take civil actions. In addition, prosecutors can file criminal charges for abuse that happened years ago. In Texas, you can also claim compensation from the church institution that ignored or enabled the abuse. Therefore, if a clergy member sexually abused you or a loved one, you can sue them in a civil court regardless of a conviction in a criminal court.  A criminal court aims to punish the abuser, whereas a civil court helps a victim collect monetary damages from the abuser or institution. Unlike a criminal case where you must prove that the abuser is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof for a civil claim is lower. 

Effects of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Revealing a history of abuse by a clergy member is never easy, and victims tend to shy away from facing their past or seeking justice. Victims of sexual abuse by religious leaders can suffer both psychological and physical damages. Some common effects of sexual abuse can include:
  • Broken bones
  • Damage to the genitals
  • Bruises or contusions 
  • Eating disorders
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Personality or anxiety disorders
  • Depression
In addition, younger victims are at a higher risk of developing health complications like chronic pain, obesity, gynecologic or reproductive health issues, gastrointestinal health issues, and cardiopulmonary symptoms. Though psychological trauma may not have the tangibility of physical trauma, it can have long-term effects. This trauma can impact a person's relationships, career, and decisions in life.

Damages to Claim in a Clergy Abuse Claim

Civil action claims for clergy abuse primarily include monetary compensation. Though money cannot heal the effects of abuse, it can compensate survivors for the hospital bill, doctor fees, therapy fees, and other associated costs.  Consider enlisting a lawyer to understand what damages you're entitled to and how much to expect as monetary compensation. Some of the damages you can claim include:
  • Past, current, and future medical expenses
  • Cost of past, current, and future therapy and mental health counseling
  • Pain and suffering
  • Impaired relationships 
In some cases, the court can award statutory or punitive damages. Apart from monetary damages, you can also seek injunctive relief. This is a court order that can direct the abuser or religious institution to take steps to prevent cases of abuse in the future. If you can achieve an injunction, you'll help others avoid clergy abuse and may encourage other survivors to seek justice. 

Statute of Limitations for Clergy Abuse in Houston

Texas has made progress in helping clergy abuse survivors get justice by changing its statute of limitations (SOL) laws for child sexual abuse in both civil and criminal claims. According to Texas SOL laws, clergy abuse victims can claim compensation before 48 years old.  This age cap has increased over time. In 2021, the state introduced legislation to open a permanent revival window for all expired claims. If this bill becomes law, several survivors of child sexual abuse whose claims have expired will have the chance to file a lawsuit and claim compensation from their abusers and anyone who covered up the abuse. 

How a Houston Clergy Abuse Lawyer Can Help

Due to the improved statute of limitations changes in Texas, it's best to work with a clergy abuse lawyer. Some clergy abuse cases, especially recent ones, trigger criminal and civil cases. The victims will also need to act as a witness in such cases. Testifying against a current abuser in a criminal case can be challenging.  Your lawyer will prepare you for the criminal case. Your lawyer will also:
  • Gather evidence to support your claim
  • Value the cost of economic and non-economic damages
  • Represent you in court
  • Negotiate the best settlement 
You have a right to pursue a legal claim against your abuser. Regardless of the kind or nature of abuse, your lawyer will advise you and help you throughout the process of claiming compensation.

Let the Dolman Law Group Help

If you or a loved one is a victim of clergy or child sex abuse, don't waste any time. With the help of our Houston clergy abuse lawyer, you can seek compensation from your abuser, the religious institution, and any other person who covered up the abuse.  The Dolman Law Group is ready to investigate your claim and fight for justice. Contact us for a free case review. Houston Office  6330 Gulf Fwy Suite 110 Houston, TX 77023 Phone: (281) 524-4370

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

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 represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $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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