About Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PARepresenting clients across the country, Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA attorneys spend every day fighting to achieve justice and compensation for anyone who has suffered injuries and losses through no fault of their own. Over our years of practice, we have built a national reputation as a group of seasoned trial lawyers who are prepared to tackle the most complicated and difficult cases on behalf of those who need our services most. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we put every last ounce of energy and commitment into representing courageous survivors of clergy sexual abuse. It is the least we can do to honor the incredibly brave step our clients take when they decide to come forward to tell their stories and to confront their abusers and/or the institutions that facilitated abuse. No two allegations of clergy sexual abuse are the same. That is why our attorneys put the highest priority on listening to our clients' stories, hearing what they hope to achieve as a form of justice and accountability, and putting the full measure of our effort into achieving the legal and practical outcome that best suits their needs. Over our years of practice, we have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients. We cannot guarantee the outcome of any particular case, of course. And we are sensitive to the fact that our clients who confront their clerical abusers may feel hesitant about coming forward with their stories when there is no way to promise how the legal process will end. For that reason, the lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA never pressure our clients to take any particular steps. It is always our clients' decision when it comes to how to proceed.
About the Minnesota Child Victims ActClergy sexual abuse is a tragically persistent problem in faith communities around the world. According to advocates for sexual abuse survivors, even as the devastation of clergy sexual abuse has finally begun to come to light, many survivors remain hesitant to come forward, fearing they cannot achieve meaningful justice through a legal process because so much time has passed since the abusive events. Sadly, they have often been right to think this. In many American jurisdictions, criminal and civil laws fail to account for how difficult is for survivors to step forward. As a result, survivors in those places have found their claims expired long before they were ready to come forward. Recognizing this sad reality, in 2013 Minnesota legislators passed and Governor Dayton signed the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual abuse to bring civil lawsuits against their abusers and others who enabled the abuse. Today, there is no statute of limitations on civil claims against a perpetrator of sexual abuse that happened before the victim turned 18, and a six year statute of limitation for abuse that happened when the victim was 18 or older. Survivors of sexual abuse that occurred before their 18th birthday also have until they turn 24 to take legal action against their abuser's employer (such as, in the case of clergy abuse, a church institution). The statute of limitations period is six years for claims against employers in cases of abuse where the victim was 18 or older. The Child Victim's Act also allowed for a three-year “lookback window” that allowed survivors of sexual abuse to bring civil claims for damages arising from past sexual abuse, even if those claims had otherwise expired under existing law. That “window” closed in 2016. As of now, the statute of limitations for prosecutors to bring criminal charges against perpetrators of sexual abuse is the later of 9 years from the date of the abuse or 3 years from when the event was first reported to law enforcement. A bill pending in the legislature would eliminate those time limits entirely.
Options for Seeking Accountability for Clergy Sexual Abuse in MinnesotaAt Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we know survivors of clergy sexual abuse choose to come forward with their stories for a wide variety of reasons. Some want to see criminal charges brought against their abusers. Others want church institutions to face up to their complicity in covering up abuse. All usually want to play some part in protecting other innocent victims from sexual predators within the clergy. We do not take a position on the “right” way to hold perpetrators and church institutions accountable for clergy sexual abuse. Instead, we focus on giving compassionate, accurate legal advice to our clients so that they may achieve their goals in coming forward to share their painful stories. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we frequently discuss with our clients:
Lawsuits for Monetary DamagesThanks to the Child Victims Act, survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Minnesota have the opportunity to take legal action to seek money damages against their abusers and the church institutions that may have facilitated the abuse. Money cannot heal old wounds, of course. But it can provide our clients with much-needed support, such as paying for:
- Costs of mental health and emotional support services;
- Pain and suffering inflicted by clergy sexual abuse;
- Harm done to personal relationships by abuse; and
- If available, statutory and/or punitive damages.