Often, we see church and clergy members as outstanding citizens and leaders in their communities. Unfortunately, some clergy members take advantage of their power and exploit members of their congregation. Around the world, cases upon cases of sexual abuse continue to emerge.
If you or a loved one has suffered abuse at the hands of a clergy member, it's essential you work to protect your rights and that the abuser is held accountable for their actions. A New Port Richey clergy abuse lawyer with Dolman Law Group can help you understand your legal options and determine the best way to move forward.
Types of Sexual Assault from Church and Clergy Members
Sexual abuse victims are often scared to speak out against their attackers due to a fear of prolonging their own suffering. This situation may be more common if an abuser is seen as an authority figure, especially if they're important figures in a church and community.
Clergy abusers can take advantage of members of their congregation and prey upon victims, including young children and teens. Clergy members have been found guilty and held accountable for a variety of sexual misconduct, including:
- Inappropriate or lewd conduct
- Unwanted touching
- Indecent exposure
- Exposure to pornography
- Sexual harassment
Even if your specific situation isn't included on the list above, you still have the right to explore your options and pursue compensation. A New Port Richey clergy abuse lawyer at our firm can answer any questions you may have and help determine if you have a viable case.
Common Injuries Clergy Abuse Victims May Suffer
Victims of clergy abuse suffer many types of injuries, including both physical and psychological wounds. Sexual abuse victims, particularly children, are susceptible to several injuries. Commonly seen injuries amongst victims include:
- Contusions and abrasions
- Broken, dislocated, or fractured bones
- Sexually transmitted diseases and infections
- Oral injuries, including broken and missing teeth
- Genital or reproductive issues
It's not uncommon for victims to suffer psychological damage as well. These damages can occur immediately after the event and continue for many years if left untreated. Victims often feel:
- Afraid to talk about what happened for fear of retribution
- Guilty, as if they were responsible for what happened to them
- Withdrawn and unwilling to talk with anyone
- Betrayed by their community and church
- Angry that they were not protected or not taken seriously when they tried to report the abuse
Long-term Effects on Sexual Abuse Survivors
Sexual abuse of any kind can have long-lasting effects on its victims. Victims of clergy abuse often trust these church members entirely, only to have that trust betrayed in the most horrible way possible. Victims may struggle to recover emotionally.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other long-term effects include the following:
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Unhealthy view of sex and relationships
These are just some of the things clergy sexual abuse victims have to endure through no fault of their own. Creating a civil lawsuit can bring about different consequences for the abuser and hold them criminally liable and the church or institution that enabled the behavior.
Damages That Clergy Abuse Victims Can Claim
Sexual abuse cases are extremely sensitive. Victims have endured the most horrible moments of their life at the hands of a person that they trusted. For these reasons, clergy abuse cases are treated far differently than more traditional personal injury cases. Our team of lawyers will treat your case with sensitivity and understanding.
Because the aftermath of a sexual assault can affect victims for years to come, victims may require surgery, prescription medication, or long-term therapy, among other medical treatments. These treatments are expensive, and you should not be the one to pay them off. When you file your case against the other party, you may be able to claim damages for:
- Any medical expenses in the treatment of their injuries, both physical and psychological, which may include hospitalization costs, prescription medication, rehabilitation, and more
- Lost wages and lost future earning capacity if you missed time at work due to your injury and the aftermath
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Wrongful death damages, if your loved one lost their life to the effects of the abuse
While no amount of compensation can make up for this traumatic experience, it's important to receive what you need and ensure the abuser is held accountable. In many of these cases, the abusers are supported by a large organization, such as the Catholic Church or other religious organizations, with many resources and lawyers of their own. Retaining a clergy abuse lawyer at our firm may help you ensure that your rights are protected.
Dolman Law Group Can Help You Fight for Justice in a Clergy Abuse Case
Dolman Law Group wants to help support you through your traumatic time as you seek damages for your sexual abuse. Our team can assist you in a number of ways, including the accumulation of evidence, filing a lawsuit, and protecting your rights along the way. Not only does our team have in these kinds of cases, but we are also compassionate and understanding.
If you have questions about your legal options, contact Dolman Law Group today for a free case review. Our New Port Richey clergy abuse lawyers take cases based on contingency, so we won't ask for any upfront costs, retainers, or hourly rates. Only will we take payment if we obtain a financial award for you at the end of your case.
New Port Richey Office
5924 Main St
New Port Richey, FL 34652