Clergy Sex Abuse Attorneys in Miami

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Clergy sexual abuse in Miami is a serious epidemic that seems almost as common as going to church. You cannot turn on the news without hearing something about the most recent clergy sex abuse claim. Whether the abuser is a priest, an elder of the religious community, a rabbi, or any other leader in religion, clergy sex abuse is illegal and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. For over 25 years, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group have been helping victims of clergy sex abuse, just like you, get the justice they deserve.

What Is Clergy Sex Abuse in Miami?

Clergy sexual abuse in Miami is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs when a member of the clergy makes sexual advances or performs sexual acts on or with a child within the clergy’s religious community. The clergy grooms and takes advantage of the child by forming a trusted relationship and then convincing the child this is “God’s will” or that it is natural and OK because they love each other and love God. Members of the clergy may include, but are not limited to:

  • Priests
  • Rabbis
  • Deacons
  • Bishops
  • Ministers
  • Pastors
  • Imams
  • Spiritual Advisors
  • Spiritual Leaders
What Are Examples of Clergy Sex Abuse in Miami?

Clergy sexual abuse can be blatant sexual acts or more subtle actions of a sexual nature. Some examples of clergy sex abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Anal, vaginal, or oral penetration with a penis, finger, or other objects
  • Forcing a child to fondle a clergy person’s genitalia
  • Videotaping a child performing sexual acts
  • Sharing pornographic material
  • Fondling a child’s genitalia or intimate areas
  • Possession of child pornography
  • Watching a child perform sexual acts
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexting
  • Sending sexually explicit emails
  • Discussing sexually explicit issues with a child
What Are the Effects of Clergy Sex Abuse in Miami?

Victims of clergy sex abuse suffer severe trauma on many levels. Not only are they sexually abused by a person they know and trust, but the abuse is often associated with God and religion, which can cause additional confusion and pain for the victim. Some of the effects of clergy sex abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Night terrors
  • Severe nightmares
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Shame
  • Distrust of authority
  • Substance abuse
  • Schizophrenia
Who Are the Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse in Miami?

Clergy members choose to groom children that are closest to them. As trusted members of the community in a position of high respect, they have access to families and children in private and close quarters, Families trust clergy members because they are supposed to be closest to God and therefore be pure.

The victims of clergy sex abuse are minor members of the religious community They are often children that volunteer to help the clergy around the community in different areas and positions. These children are often left alone with clergy for hours on end and are taught to trust the clergy without exception.

What Rights Do Clergy Sex Abuse Victims Have in Miami?

As of July 1, 2010, victims of clergy sex abuse have been protected by the Florida House Bill 525, which was passed in March 2010. As a result of this bill, any child abused under the age of 16 can file criminal and /or civil claims against the sexual abuser, including clergy members at any age. There is absolutely no statute of limitations or time limit for these victims to file a claim and obtain justice.

Who Are the Accomplices that Contribute to the Culture of Clergy Sex Abuse in Miami?

The environment in religious communities make it easier for clergy to have unmonitored access to children than other individuals in other communities. However, certain people are in positions to help children and can be considered accomplices to be included in litigation when filing a claim for clergy sexual abuse. Some of the accomplices may be:

  • Elders within the religious community
  • Therapists and others in a position to report the abuse
  • Religious schoolteachers
  • Religious school leaders
  • Supervising adults within the religious community
What Type of Justice in Criminal Court is Typically available to Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse in Miami?

The criminal justice system in Miami views victims of clergy sex abuse as witnesses to help convict clergy members of these crimes. Clergy sexual abuse convictions include the following sentences:

  • Clergy who abuse children under 12 may be sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 25 years or may receive the death penalty
  • Clergy who abuse children over the age of 12 may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
  • Clergy who use drugs or other aggressive means, such as guns or family threats, may receive a sentence of up to 20 years in prison
  • Dangerous sexual predators may be sentenced to a mandatory 25 years in prison.
  • All clergy convicted of sexual abuse must register ad sex offenders.
What Remedies Are Available in Civil Court for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse in Miami?

In Miami civil court, you would become a party to the lawsuit and the plaintiff bringing a lawsuit against the clergy member(s) that sexually abused you. As a plaintiff, you are likely looking for relief through the courts. Some of the remedies available to victims of clergy sexual abuse may include, but are not limited to:

  • Reimbursement of medical and other expenses
  • Therapist and counseling payments
  • Lost wages
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Punitive damages
What Resources Are Available for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse in Miami?
  • Lauren’s Kids. Lauren’s Kids is an organization which helps children by offering guidance and education to begin the healing process.
  • RAINN. Rape, Assault, Incest, National Network is the largest national organization to help victims of sexual assault. It provides a hotline to help victims of clergy sex abuse as well as other resources to help people more on and start a new life.
  • Darkness to Light. Darkness to Light helps victims of clergy sex abuse by helping them find therapists, and other helpful resources needed to move forward.
  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. This organization helps children by using evaluations and therapies to overcome the trauma of the abuse.
  • Stop It Now. Stop It Now helps adult survivors of clergy sexual abuse find the organizations to help the healing process.

Contact Our Experienced Miami Clergy Sex Abuse Attorneys for a Free Consultation

Clergy sexual abuse traumatizes children in ways that other forms of child sexual abuse may not, especially because of the nature of the relationship between the clergy member, the child, and God. If you or a family member has been the victim of clergy sexual abuse, the team of prior sex-crimes prosecutors at the Derek Smith Law Group will be able to help. Contact us today at (305) 946-1884 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case

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