Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyers Representing Victims Nationwide
Millions Recovered for Victims of Clergy Abuse
As religious leaders, clergy are trusted to provide spiritual and moral guidance. By using their positions of authority and their religion to commit sexual abuse and keep that abuse a secret, members of the clergy or priesthood commit the ultimate betrayal.
Many churches and religious institutions have come under scrutiny for widespread sexual abuse within their ranks, and those same institutions have faced criticism for their failures to adequately investigate allegations, report abuse, and keep vulnerable children and members safe.
Today, clergy from many religious institutions have been implicated in widespread child sexual abuse scandals, including:
- The Catholic Church
- Evangelical Christians
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Orthodox Judaism / Yeshivas
- The Church of Latter Day Saints / Mormons
- The Church of Scientology
The time has come for these organizations to be held accountable.
Trusted Advocates. Proven Results.
The Zalkin Law Firm has cultivated a record of success fighting for survivors abused by priests, pastors, and others within religious organizations across the country.
Our childhood sexual abuse lawyers have spear-headed high-stakes and high-profile clergy abuse cases, and have successfully taken on some of the most powerful religious institutions in the world.
This includes major litigation and multi-million global settlements against the Catholic Church:
- $660 million settlement. Irwin Zalkin was one of the lead trial lawyers prepared to litigate a 14-victim trial against the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles before a global settlement was reached.
- $198.5 million settlement. Irwin Zalkin was appointed Mediation Liaison Counsel and lead negotiator for over 144 victims of child sex abuse against the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego. The negotiations resulted in a nearly $200M settlement.
- $100 million settlement. Irwin Zalkin was part of the legal team representing sex abuse survivors in the Diocese of Orange, CA, and helped negotiate the first $100M global settlement in the nation over Catholic sex abuse.
- $4.2 million settlement for three adult survivors abused as minors by priests associated with a Northern California Diocese
- $2.75 million settlement for two survivors of clergy sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic priest in 1975.
In addition to complex and multi-victim claims, our clergy sexual abuse attorneys have also recovered millions in compensation for survivors in single-victim claims. Examples of our results include:
- $1.75 million settlement. Montana clergy abuse case which occurred over forty years ago
- $1.25 million settlement. 27-year-old abused as a minor by a youth pastor associated with an evangelical church in Northern California.
- $1 million settlement. California clergy abuse case against a religious school for sexual abuse that occurred over 20 years ago.
- $937,500 settlement. 27-year-old male survivor abused as a minor by a Catholic priest in Southern California.
- $750,000 settlement. California clergy abuse that occurred in the early 1990s.
- $675,000 settlement. California clergy abuse case against a religious order for abuse that occurred 30 years ago.
- $600,000 settlement. 45-year-old male survivor abused as a minor by a Catholic priest.
What is Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Clergy sexual abuse refers to instances where members of the clergy, such as priests, ministers, rabbis, or other religious leaders, engage in sexual misconduct or abuse of a sexual nature with individuals under their spiritual care or authority. This form of abuse is a betrayal of trust and a violation of the sacred relationship between religious leaders and their congregants.
Common forms or examples of clergy sexual abuse include:
- Non-consensual Sexual Contact: Any unwanted and non-consensual sexual touching, fondling, or physical contact initiated by a clergy member.
- Sexual Assault: Involves more severe forms of sexual misconduct, such as rape or coerced sexual acts, where the victim is subjected to sexual penetration without their consent.
- Sexual Exploitation: Using one's position of authority to exploit individuals for sexual gratification or gain. This may involve manipulation, coercion, or emotional abuse.
- Grooming: Clergy members may engage in a process known as grooming, where they build trust and emotional connection with individuals, often with the intention of later engaging in sexual abuse.
- Child Sexual Abuse: In cases involving minors, clergy sexual abuse may include any form of sexual exploitation or violation against children, ranging from molestation to more serious offenses.
- Sexual Harassment: Unwanted sexual advances, comments, or behavior that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for the victim. This can occur within the context of a religious institution.
- Violation of Pastoral Relationship: Breach of the sacred pastoral relationship, where clergy members exploit the trust and authority bestowed upon them for their personal sexual desires.
- Abuse of Spiritual Authority: Clergy members may use their spiritual authority to manipulate individuals into engaging in sexual acts, claiming that such acts are part of a religious or spiritual practice.
- Psychological and Emotional Abuse: Clergy sexual abuse is not solely physical; it may also involve psychological and emotional abuse, including manipulation, intimidation, and coercion.
Clergy sexual abuse can have profound and long-lasting effects on the survivors, causing emotional, psychological, and spiritual harm. Many cases involve not only the abuse itself but also the subsequent cover-up or failure of religious institutions to address the misconduct appropriately. Legal actions and accountability measures are often pursued to seek justice for survivors and prevent further abuse within religious organizations.
Common Signs a Child is a Victim of Clergy Sexual Abuse
Identifying signs that a child may be a victim of clergy sexual abuse requires careful observation and attention to behavioral, emotional, and physical changes. Keep in mind that these signs may not definitively indicate abuse, but they could be potential indicators. If you suspect a child may be a victim of clergy sexual abuse, it is crucial to report your concerns to the appropriate authorities.
Common signs include:
- Withdrawal: Sudden social withdrawal, isolation, or reluctance to participate in activities they previously enjoyed.
- Regression: Reverting to earlier behaviors, such as bedwetting or thumb-sucking, that were previously outgrown.
- Depression: Persistent sadness, changes in mood, or expressions of hopelessness.
- Anxiety: Unexplained fears, nightmares, or anxiety related to specific places or individuals.
- Nightmares: Recurrent nightmares or night terrors that may be indicative of distress.
- Insomnia or Changes in Sleep Habits: Difficulty falling asleep or changes in sleep patterns.
- Speech Issues: Regression in speech development, sudden reluctance to speak, or difficulty expressing oneself.
- Loss of Milestones: Reversal of developmental milestones, such as loss of toilet training skills.
- Physical Pain: Complaints of unexplained physical pain or discomfort.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): In cases of sexual abuse, the child may contract STIs.
- Avoidance of Specific Individuals: Fear or avoidance of specific individuals, including clergy members or other religious figures.
- Distrust: General distrust of adults or authority figures.
- Decline in School Performance: A sudden decline in academic performance, attention problems, or difficulty concentrating.
- Knowledge Beyond Age Level: Displaying knowledge of sexual acts or language beyond their developmental stage.
- Inappropriate Sexual Behavior: Engaging in age-inappropriate sexual behavior or expressing sexualized language.
- Reluctance to Attend Religious Activities: Expressing fear or anxiety about attending religious services or events.
- Changes in Personality: Rapid and unexplained changes in personality, mood swings, or irritability.
Can I File a Civil Sexual Abuse Claim?
Determining whether you have the right to take legal action over childhood sexual abuse will depend on the unique facts of your case. At The Zalkin Law Firm, our lawyers offer free and confidential case evaluations to help survivors evaluate their options.
We serve all survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault, including:
- Child victims and their parents;
- Adult victims of abuse or assault; and
- Adult survivors who were sexually abused as minors.
With new legislation in many states, such as California AB 218 and the New York Child Victims Act, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are often given the opportunity to bring civil claims against at-fault parties years or decades after abuse occurred. This includes adult survivors whose claims were previously barred by statutes of limitations.
Our attorneys can help you better understand how eligibility and the statute of limitations works in these cases.
How Can an Abuse Lawyer Help the Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse?
An experienced clergy sexual abuse lawyer can provide victims with powerful legal representation while they seek justice for the abuse they suffered. These attorneys are knowledgeable of the laws and regulations that surround these cases, as well as the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. They understand the importance of protecting their clients’ rights and obtaining the best possible outcome.
One of our abuse lawyers near you can help with:
- Investigating the facts of your case and identifying potential defendants who may be liable for sexual abuse
- Evaluating legal statutes to understand how state laws and court rulings could affect your claim
- Negotiating with insurance companies, religious organizations and other entities on your behalf
- Representing you in civil litigation if needed
- Reviewing settlements offered by churches before an agreement is made
- Helping secure financial compensation for medical bills, therapy costs, lost wages or income due to abuse-related trauma, pain and suffering or other damages caused by clergy sex abuse
- Providing resources to help survivors cope through support groups, counseling services, and other forms of assistance
- Assisting in filing criminal charges against perpetrators when appropriate
When Should You Contact a Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
The statute of limitations for filing a civil legal claim in clergy sexual abuse cases varies from state to state. In some states, survivors may have decades from the time of their abuse to come forward and file a lawsuit. In other states, victims may have just a few years or even months to take action. It is therefore essential for survivors of clergy sexual abuse to act quickly and contact an attorney as soon as possible after the abuse comes to light in order to ensure that their rights are protected and that they can pursue the justice they deserve.
An experienced lawyer who specializes in clergy sexual abuse cases can provide invaluable guidance about filing deadlines, potential defendants, negotiation strategies and more—allowing survivors to focus on healing and recovery. Survivors should also keep in mind that there may be exceptions to statutes of limitation in certain jurisdictions or specific circumstances, so it is best to consult with an experienced attorney right away if you believe you may have a case.
Accused Priest Directory
The Zalkin Law Firm maintains a directory of priests who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, particularly in California Dioceses.
Our directory curates public information about accused priests and claims brought by victims in one place, and can help survivors who are considering stepping forward understand what has happened to others – and why making their voice heard is important to putting an end to abuse.
Visit our accused priest directory to learn more about accused priests.
Your Right to Compensation
As a clergy abuse survivor, you have the right to hold wrongdoers and responsible church leaders accountable for their misconduct, failures, and willful conceit. Stepping forward with a claim not only exposes unforgiveable practices, but also fosters needed change to prevent others from being victimized.
As a civil lawsuit (or tort), sexual abuse claims also provide survivors with the opportunity to recover financial compensation for the damages they incurred as a result of their abuse. This may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical and mental health treatment
- Future medical / mental health expenses
- Emotional and psychological anguish
- Other economic and non-economic damages
Call Our Nationwide Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyers for a FREE Consultation
The Zalkin Law Firm is nationally recognized for fighting on behalf of survivors who were sexually abused by priests, pastors, and other religious leaders.
Our clergy sexual abuse attorneys have recovered hundreds of millions in compensation for our clients in single-victim and multi-victim cases, and have the insight and resources to take on powerful adversaries that failed to protect children and victims.
We serve survivors across the U.S., and can help explore your options for pursuing the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call for a (800) 477-2989 FREE and confidential case evaluation.
Clergy Sexual Abuse
Irwin Zalkin was one of the lead trial lawyers and part of the trial team prepared to commence a 14 victim trial against the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, the day a global settlement was reached in the amount of $660,000,000.
Clergy Sexual Abuse
Irwin Zalkin was appointed Mediation Liaison Counsel and a lead negotiator by United States Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas on behalf of over 144 victims of childhood sexual abuse against the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego.
Clergy Sexual Abuse
Irwin Zalkin was part of the team of lawyers representing clergy sexual abuse survivors in the Diocese of Orange, California who recently helped to negotiate the first $100,000,000 global settlement in the country involving childhood sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.
Clergy Sexual Abuse
Multi-victim case against religious group home.
Lohse v. Lakeland Village HOA (Oakland, CA) $8,000,000
An $8 Million judgment against a resort facility after a six-week jury trial for a woman who was rendered a paraplegic following a fall off of an unguarded pier.
Clergy Sexual Abuse
Multi-victim case against a religious leader and institution.
Child Sexual Abuse
Single Victim $4,250,000
$4.25 Million paid to single sexual abuse Plaintiff.
Clergy Sexual Abuse
Three survivors abused as minors by priests associated with a Northern California Diocese.
Child Sexual Abuse
Single Victim $4,150,000
$4.15 Million paid to single sexual abuse Plaintiff.
Child Sexual Abuse
Single Victim $4,000,000
$4 Million paid to single sexual abuse Plaintiff.