St. Petersburg Clergy Abuse Lawyer

May 7, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

A significant portion of America's population is religious. They find peace and comfort in churches. But, this place of solace can quickly turn dangerous due to abusive clergy members. In recent times, the news has been littered with reports of clergy abuse towards parishioners. As a victim of child abuse, you may feel voiceless and desolate.

The leadership of your church may cover up the abuse. But, you can still seek justice by filing a lawsuit. A St. Petersburg clergy abuse lawyer can represent you or a loved one that has gone through clergy abuse. We will listen to the details of your ordeal and analyze your case. Then, we can tell you which legal options you can pursue to achieve justice.

Types of Clergy Abuse That Could Entitle Clearwater Victims to Damages

Generally, clergy abuse happens when a minister, pastor, or priest uses their position to take advantage of their followers sexually. Clergy abuse may present itself in different forms, including:

  • Unwelcome touching
  • Pressurizing followers to take part in intimate relationships
  • Having unwanted sexual conversations

Churches may conceal the occurrence of clergy abuse in their institutions. They may then choose to handle the matter themselves. Failure to report these abusers to the police exposes other people to the same. What's worse, some churches opt to transfer the abusive clergy as a way of dealing with the situation.

In doing so, they place parishioners at the new location in jeopardy. Most of the victims of clergy abuse are children. You may have suffered child sex abuse at the hands of a clergy member. 

As an adult, you can consult a clergy abuse lawyer to examine your options. You may find that the law provides windows that allow you to bring a claim for child sex abuse cases that were previously barred by the passing of time.

Filing a Case After Clergy Abuse in St. Petersburg

You have a choice to file a case against an abusive clergy member as a way to seek justice. Filing a lawsuit against the perpetrator will help you have your voice heard. The culprit will have to answer for their actions and compensate you for damages. Your lawyer can help you file a suit even if the perpetrator faces criminal charges.

What makes that possible is the difference between the civil and criminal justice systems. In some cases, you can even file a suit following the conclusion of the criminal case. 

Your clergy abuse attorney can inform you if such a dynamic is possible in your case. The compensation you receive may not erase the trauma and pain you endured at the clergy member's hands, but it can help you get some closure.

Building Your Case and Reaching a Settlement Agreement

In a clergy abuse case, your lawyer will take some time to investigate and collect evidence. If there is an ongoing criminal trial for the same case, it could help provide evidence to build your case. 

Evidence may include witness testimonies and medical proof. A St. Petersburg lawyer can also consult experts to help your case. For example, a psychology expert could speak on the signs of abuse you exhibit. This could serve as corroborative evidence in your clergy abuse case.

After collecting enough evidence and building a strong case, your lawyer can help negotiate a settlement. A strong case can be instrumental in helping you settle. Some factors can affect your settlement amount, including the length of time you suffered the abuse and the resulting losses.

Damages You May Recover in a Clergy Abuse Case

The severity of the abuse will play a role in determining how much you receive. For instance, you could recover medical expenses in a clergy abuse case if you sustained physical injuries.

Compensation will include the cost of treatment (both now and in the future). Medical costs may include the cost of seeking psychological help through counseling. Victims of abuse may face psychological impacts such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Therapy sessions can help you in your journey to healing. You do not have to handle the costs.

Clergy abuse, like other forms of assault, is traumatizing to the victim. Emotional trauma can make you feel incapable of doing anything. You may miss work and the income that comes with it. You can seek compensation for these lost wages. You can also recover damages for the pain and suffering you experienced. Your clergy abuse attorney can help you recover damages.

Your Lawyer Can Determine the Statute of Limitations for Your Case

The statute of limitations is the period you have to bring a case. For sexual abuse cases, the statute of limitations depends on the details of your case. 

For example, under Florida Statutes § 95.11 (7), a victim has seven years after reaching the age of majority to bring a case. Or, four years after realizing that there exists a link between your injuries and the abuse.

If the victim has not yet attained the age of majority, the statute of limitations is not applicable. Donna's Law could apply in your case and waive any timeline that would have been relative to your case. Your lawyer can examine your case and tell you which period applies to your case. They can also help you bring a case before that period ends.

Clergy members hold leadership positions based on the trust of their community. They violate this trust by being abusive. You deserve to hold an abusive clergy member responsible for the suffering they put you through. We can help you seek justice by filing for compensation. Call a St. Petersburg clergy abuse lawyer's team today for help.

St Petersburg Office
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
Phone: (727) 472-3909


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 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 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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