Breaking: Dioceses in Pennsylvania announce funds to compensate abuse victims. Contact us to learn more.
If you or your child were abused by a member of the clergy, we are here to help you
Child sexual abuse by priests and other religious authorities is one of the most shocking and indefensible crimes ever exposed. Those injured by these unthinkable actions can suffer harm and damage that can last a lifetime. Many victims may not experience the full effects of their trauma until later in their lifetimes.
If you or your child were sexually assaulted or abused by a member of the clergy, we are here to help you today. At Munley Law, we fight for the rights of children and adults who were abused as children We will do whatever it takes to ensure that they receive the help and compensation they need and deserve. We have a team comprised of some of the top lawyers in the state Pennsylvania. When you have been hurt, silenced, and need someone to fight for you, we will be your champions.
Contact Munley Law today for a free and confidential consultation.
Independent Survivors Compensation Program
Six Pennsylvania dioceses have established compensation funds that would provide victims of all ages to recover damages for the abuse they suffered, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place, or whether it was previously reported. Participation in the fund is voluntary, and would open a path to justice for victims whose cases are time-barred by the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. However, those who accept a settlement will be prohibited from filing a separate lawsuit in relation to their abuse.
The compensation programs will be run by an independent firm, not by the diocese. The church will have no influence over the compensation decisions; decisions will be final, and cannot be appealed by the diocese or the victims. The firm of Kenneth Feinberg has been chosen to oversee the compensation programs the Pennsylvania dioceses.*
Here’s what survivors need to know:
- The compensation fund is open to all abuse survivors, regardless of age.
- Those who accept an offer of settlement through the program must surrender the right to file a separate lawsuit related to the abuse
- Claimants must meet with an attorney before accepting an offer of settlement from the fund
- Deadlines for application vary by diocese
*Each diocese has its own compensation program. Be sure to look at the criteria and protocol for the program in your diocese. A clergy abuse lawyer at Munley Law can distinguish between the different programs and make sure your claim is submitted properly.
The attorneys at Munley Law have handled cases involving victim compensation funds and can advise anyone who is interested in submitting a claim. We will answer your questions and help you decide the best course of action.
Clergy sexual abuse
In August 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a damning grand jury report on sex abuse in the Catholic Church, listing more than 300 accused clergy members and detailing 70 years of misconduct and systematic coverups. The report found there are about 1,000 victims involved, based on internal diocesan records, though the grand jury believes there are likely many more who never came forward or whose complaints were not on record.
Beginning in 2016, a statewide grand jury investigated the handling of sexual abuse claims by the Roman Catholic church in Pennsylvania. The probe examined hundreds of allegations from six dioceses dating back to the 1960s. The six Pennsylvania dioceses include Allentown, Scranton, Erie, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.
What is the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse victims?
Under Pennsylvania state law, victims who experienced sexual abuse as children may bring criminal charges until they reach the age of 50 years old. Victims may bring civil claims until the age of 30. Munley Law handles civil actions.
It is possible that the findings of the extensive grand jury report Pennsylvania may push lawmakers to change the laws on statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases. We will do everything in our power to see that victims get justice under the law.
Can I file a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Catholic Church?
As a survivor of sexual abuse, you deserve justice for the suffering you endured. Legal action will hold the abusers and their enablers accountable and send a message that this abuse will not be tolerated. In this way, we can help ensure that other children and families will not face the same horrors. In addition, we can help secure financial compensation for your emotional suffering as well as any medical treatment, psychological care, and counseling.
In cases of widespread abuse affecting numerous victims over a long period of time, such as those in the church, it is important to look not only at the individuals who committed heinous acts of abuse but also those who participated in covering it up or failed to report the abuse to the proper authorities. We will work with investigators and witnesses to identify all individuals who knew or should have known about the abuse taking place or otherwise created an environment where this behavior was allowed to continue.
What is child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, and sexual contact with a minor is considered assault. When a perpetrator engages with a child this way, they are committing a crime that can have lasting effects on the victim for years. Child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child. Most instances of child sexual abuse are committed by someone the child knows and trusts, such as a teacher, family friend, or religious leader.
While an isolated incident is referred to as a sexual assault, prolonged or repetitive predatory behavior is considered sexual abuse. Many cases of abuse in the church involve this kind of ongoing, widespread victimization. Those who can be held responsible include not only the perpetrator, but also those individuals who participated in covering up or repressing victims’ claims.
Effects of child sexual abuse
Sexual abuse of any kind is a trauma that can have long-term consequences. Victims may repress the memory of what they endured until well into adulthood. The physical, psychological and emotional effects of childhood sexual abuse are overwhelming, and can affect not only the victim but the victim’s family and loved ones as well.
Physical injuries resulting from sexual abuse may include:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Chronic pain
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Gynecological complications
Psychological and emotional injuries may include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Depression, self-harm, or suicide
- Damaged relationships, isolation, withdrawal from family and friends
- Guilt, shame
These are just a few of the immediate and long-term effects of sexual abuse and assault. You don’t have to bear these burdens alone. Our legal team will help ensure that those who caused or contributed to the abuse are held accountable.
Child sexual abuse statistics
• 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
• Over 58,000 children were sexually abused last year
• 8.3% of reported child abuse cases involved sexual abuse
• 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members
• 12.3% of girls were age 10 or younger at the time or their first victimization and 30% of girls were between the ages of 11 and 17.
• 27.8% of boys were age 10 or younger at the time of their first rape/victimization and 30% of girls were between the ages of 11 and 17.
The Munley Law child abuse lawyers are on your side
At Munley Law we stand with survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members. We make sure you and your family receive the help you need. Our team of PA Clergy Abuse Lawyers will exhaust all possible means of obtaining justice for you.
If you are a survivor of clergy abuse and you are ready to come forward, Munley Law is here to help. We know how difficult it can be to confront such painful memories, and we will make every effort to ease the anxiety you may have about this process. The first step on your path to justice is a consultation with one of our attorneys. The consultation is free and confidential, and we do not charge a fee for our services unless we win your case.
Our clergy abuse lawyers in PA
Too often, victims of sexual abuse are silenced. At Munley Law, our mission is to be a voice for the voiceless. The highly experienced, compassionate team of lawyers at Munley Law work together to stand up for victims and uphold justice, especially when it means taking on powerful organizations. With our firm, you will have an entire team by your side to fight for your rights.
Sensitive cases such as these require an attorney with experience successfully representing abuse victims and their families.
In 2018, Attorney Daniel Munley and Munley Law represented a young woman who had been victimized by an authority figure in her life while she was a minor. That case resulted in a $4M judgment.
Other recent case results:
- $26 Million
- $8 Million
- $3.97 Million
- $3.2 Million
- 1.9 Million
See a full list of our settlements and verdicts.
We do not collect a fee for our services unless we win your case.