The number of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergymen more than quadrupled in 2019 compared to the average for the past five years, according to a report by the US Bishops' Conference. The 2019 report, which runs from July 2018 to June 2019, counted 4,434 allegations of sexual abuse by clergy against minors. 2,982 priests and other church personnel were involved in these allegations. The report is part of an annual review of nearly 200 dioceses and ecclesiastical institutions across the United States.
This exponential increase in clerical sexual abuse cases is due to US dioceses becoming targets of state investigation after a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report detailed hundreds of suspected abuse cases in August 2018. The shocking report from Pennsylvania, long protected by its own code of silence and favorable statute of limitations, forced other states to re-investigate sexual abuse cases. Across the country, states have begun mandating church records and changing statute of limitations to help victims seek justice. Thirteen states have created “lookback” windows that temporarily suspend statute of limitations and allow victims to file civil claims against institutions such as churches and youth groups that have some responsibility for the abuse.
With the release of the 2019 report, it will become more important than ever for victims of sexual abuse by priests to speak to a lawyer and assess the avenues available to seek justice. Despite recent transparency and pledges to help victims and stop the plague of sexual abuse, the Church does not currently require that cases of abuse be reported to civil authorities. She has a long history of shielding and continues to protect pedophile priests from prosecution. The Church should never be a protection against prosecution, and history has shown that the Catholic Church is unable to monitor itself against abuse of power.
If you are an adult and were sexually abused by a priest as a child, it is time to finally seek the justice you have been denied for so long. But you have to act soon. If a priest or other church member has sexually abused you or someone you know, please contact Saunders & Walker at 1-800-748-7115 to discuss your legal options. All conversations are treated as strictly confidential.