According to some reports, sexual abuse by priests has been going on for more than 50 years. Some even suggest that leaders within the church have been involved in the relocation of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse and the cover-up of their atrocities.
The emotional damage done to the children who were victimized by their parish priests will impact them for the rest of their lives. If you or your child was sexually abused by a priest, you should have your case reviewed by a reliable California lawyer who will fight to see that these horrific acts do not go unpunished.
When most people think of children being sexually abused by a priest, most think of the Catholic Church. Sexual abuse by priests is a problem that has impacted numerous Christian communities, however, and the need for aggressive representation for victims is universal. At The Cifarelli Law Firm, LLP, we have extensive experience representing children in these extremely difficult cases.
We understand how difficult it can be for children to talk about the abuse they have suffered and how hesitant they can be to make an accusation. Our goal is not to put victims in a difficult situation. We are concerned with obtaining justice for them. We will do everything in our power to see that the priests are held accountable for their actions without forcing the victims to relive the entire experience.
Recently, the Vatican revealed that it has defrocked nearly 850 priests for sexual molestation and rape of children, and has sanctioned more than 2,500 priests in the past decade. The statistics were revealed by a representative of the Holy See during intense questioning by a United Nations committee that monitors the UN treaty against torture.
There is an expectation that an expansion of the definition of torture to include sexual abuse against children will start a new wave of lawsuits against those who commit the vile acts. According to the Catholic News Service, there are well over 400,000 Catholic priests and the church has been accused of covering up abuses of their priests for decades.
Sexual abuse in California
Across the U.S., increased scrutiny of the Catholic Church and other religious organizations has revealed thousands of instances of covering up and excusing sexual abuses by priests. In February, the Los Angeles Archdiocese reached a $13 million settlement in a lawsuit involving a number of priests – one of whom allegedly molested more than 24 boys between the ages of seven and twelve – over a nine-month period. The local cardinal and various aides were accused of misleading police investigators and helping one of the priests escape the country before law enforcement agents were told about the sex abuse complaints.
Another priest who served in a number of parishes in California admitted to molesting more than 30 young boys over a 25-year period. Many of the boys – most of whom were altar servers – were subject to criminal acts on dozens of occasions. Although he was eventually defrocked and labeled as a violent sex offender, recently revealed church and seminary records show that many officials in the church knew of his sexual assaults against children but did little to stop him.
Protecting your child
Unfortunately, while the Vatican appears to be making efforts to deal with abusers, it is not the only religious organization that covers up abuses by child molesters. Parents and other loved ones should stay alert and take note of circumstances, behaviors and acts that do not feel quite right. Following are some tips for keeping your child safe:Protecting your child
- Network with other parents who have children involved in the same organization
- Take note of changes in your child’s behavior and mood
- Believe your children when they drop hints about abuse or behavior that makes them uncomfortable
- If your child spends time alone with an adult, drop in unannounced occasionally to check on them
- Monitor your child’s internet use and conduct your own internet searches regarding information about registered and alleged sex offenders
Unfortunately, you cannot watch over your child every minute of the day and abuse may occur despite doing everything you can to protect your child. If you believe your child – or another loved one – is suffering at the hands of an abuser, first contact the police and then contact an attorney. A lawyer who is experienced with helping victims of child molestation can help you stop and punish a predator, obtain medical and psychological care for your child and collect compensation for harm caused.