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Breaking: Scranton Diocese announces fund to compensate abuse victims – if you are reporting abuse for the FIRST time, the deadline is July 31. Contact us to learn more or to submit a claim.

Munley Law is here for you if you or your child is a victim of sexual abuse by a priest in the Scranton Diocese

In August 2018, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General issued an extensive and detailed report of its findings in the investigation of childhood sexual abuse by clergy in the Scranton Diocese of the Catholic Church.

 If you were sexually abused as a child, or you are the parent or guardian of a child who is a victim of such abuse, you should consult a Scranton clergy abuse lawyer to understand your rights and protections.  Munley Law attorneys have experience with sexual abuse lawsuits and with compensation funds for cases involving numerous victims. We are standing by to help.  Call, chat or fill out our online form and one of our clergy abuse attorneys will help you understand your rights.

Scranton Diocese Independent Survivors Compensation Program

The Independent Survivors Compensation Program is now accepting claims. Any person who was victimized by a member of the clergy or a layperson in the diocese may submit a claim, regardless of when the abuse occurred or whether it was previously reported.

The compensation program 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 program in Scranton and in five other Pennsylvania dioceses.

Here’s what victims 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
  • Victims reporting abuse for the first time must file a claim by July 31, 2019.
  • Those who have previously reported their abuse have until September 30.

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.

How much will victims be compensated?

In the first three months of the program’s operation, 49 claims have been submitted by individuals who had previously raised claims of abuse. Administrators reviewed nearly two-thirds of these claims and sent letters containing offers of payment to 31 individuals totaling $3,640,000. Seventeen claimants have accepted the offered compensation and have been paid more than $2,155,000. The remaining claims are still pending.  Each claim will be considered and evaluated individually, and there is no monetary cap on how much victims can receive in compensation.

In addition, during the same period, 54 previously unknown persons have come forward with allegations and registered on the Program website. Of these new claim registrants, 51 have been accepted into the Program. One remains under consideration.

The grand jury’s report on sexual abuse by Pennsylvania clergy

The grand jury report  released  in August 2018 uncovered abuse of children as far back as the 1960s.  Over 1,000 cases were reported, and the grand jury believes there were even more cases that were never reported.  In Scranton alone 59 offenders were identified by the grand jury. The report states the bishops generally knew what went on and were involved in the cover-up, protection and enabling of the abusers.  Bishops acted with a blatant disregard for the abused. Churches handled cases within the institution, without the involvement of law enforcement. They continued to shelter abusers by shuffling them from one parish to another or sending them to a church managed treatment center.  In some cases there were payouts to families who were forced to sign confidentiality agreements, intending to silence victims and their families forever.

As a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the church, you may have the right to file a civil lawsuit

Unfortunately, it often takes years to uncover sexual abuse of a child, and at times, it is never reported.  Children may be afraid to speak of the abuse and may repress their memories of the assaults.

As a resident of Pennsylvania, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the abuser as well as any other person or institution that may have aided in the crime or cover-up.   The law allows victims who experienced sexual abuse as a child to file a civil case until they are 30 years old. Criminal cases can be filed until the child victim reaches 50. Munley Law only handles civil cases, but will help our clients find a criminal attorney if they want to pursue a criminal case.

What constitutes child sexual abuse?

Legally children may not consent to any type of sexual contact or overtures.  Therefore, if an adult engages with a minor, whether it be indecent exposure, sexual exploitation, penetration or rape, it is an illegal assault.  The most likely culprit of sexual abuse to a child is someone the child knows and trusts; perhaps a family member, family friend, teacher or even a priest.

When sexual behavior with a minor takes place over an extended period or is repetitive, it is recognized by the legal system as sexual abuse, and may be subject to stiffer penalties.

Sexual abuse is traumatic to the victim and the effects may last a lifetime.  Children may repress their memory of the abuse, perhaps only recognizing it at some point in adulthood.  

The trauma of child sexual abuse may manifest itself physically, emotionally and psychologically.  Clergy abuse attorneys at Munley Law understand the devastation of sexual abuse to a minor and take great care in protecting the privacy of the victim and the family.  Our clients take comfort in the knowing that while we aggressively fight for justice and monetary compensation, we do so with compassion and dignity.

How can abuse victims be compensated?

Aside from a criminal trial, a civil, personal injury lawsuit, may compensate victims in any or all of the following ways.

  • Economic compensation for medical, therapy and prescription costs as well as loss of wages
  • Non-Economic compensation for intangibles like emotional pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages may be awarded as a way of punishing the accused above and beyond economic and non-economic awards.  At times, when a person is found guilty of an egregious wrongdoing, the court adds on punitive damages. Along with being seen as an additional punishment, punitive damages are seen as a way to prevent future misconduct.

Statistics on childhood sexual abuse

It is a long standing believe that not all childhood sexual abuse is reported, therefore, the assumption is that statistics of abuse are understated.  That being said, here are some published statistics.

    • Almost one in ten children who are victimized are sexually assaulted
    • Before their 18th birthdays, about 20% of girls and 8% of boys will be victims of sexual assault
    • In 95% of cases, the abuser is someone the child knows and trusts
    • 90% of the perpetrators are male
    • Children who survive sexual abuse are more than 10 times more likely to attempt suicide
  • In the past year, nearly 60,000 children were victims of sexual abuse

Long term consequences associated with sexual assault

Every sexual abuse victim is different, will suffer in a different way, and will heal in their own timeframe.

Many will live the rest of their lives with both short and long-term physical, emotional and psychological effects.

    • Physical effects may include chronic pain, sexually transmitted disease, gastrointestinal disorders, gynecological complications and sexual performance problems
  • Emotional and psychological problems may include, post-traumatic stress disorder, anger, guilt, anxiety, shame, fear, emotional and physical withdrawal, depression, sleep disorders and suicidal tendencies.

Munley Law’s attorneys have a long history of winning.

For 60 years we have been winning cases for residents in and around Scranton.  Lastyear, Daniel Munley led a legal team at Munley Law, winning a $4 million judgment for a young woman who was victimized by someone she knew and trusted when she was a minor.  

Read more about Munley Laws award winning legal team and our victories for our clients.

Scranton clergy abuse lawyers at Munley Law are ready to help you.

The clergy abuse lawyers in Munley Law’s Scranton office have a proven track record getting justice for survivors of abuse.  We have seen the devastation suffered by victims and their families. We know the justice system cannot erase your suffering, but it can punish the wrongdoers and help ensure the abuse does not continue.  If you or your child is a victim of childhood sexual abuse and you are ready to come forward, Munley Law child abuse attorneys will help you.  Contact our legal team now for a free case evaluation.  You can take comfort in knowing if we represent you, you will have the best possible legal team with no out of pocket costs.  We only get paid when we win your case. .

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