Clergy Sex Abuse Attorneys in Philadelphia

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Clergy sexual abuse in Philadelphia is among the most heard about forms of child sexual abuse. Clergy members are in a position of trust and respect in the community, which makes clergy sex abuse especially traumatic for victims and other members of the community. For over 25 years, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group have helped clergy sex abuse, just like you, get the justice they deserve.

What Is Clergy Sex Abuse in Philadelphia?

Clergy sexual abuse in Philadelphia is an epidemic that is sweeping the religious community throughout the city and beyond. Clergy sexual abuse occurs when a member of the clergy sexually abuses or assaults an individual under the age of 18. The children are usually in positions within the religious community that are sought after and are in demand. Victims of clergy sexual abuse are children that are taken advantage of sexually by a community and the person they are taught to respect and taught are closet to God. Clergy members include, but are not limited to:

  • Priests
  • Deacons
  • Pastors
  • Rabbis
  • Ministers
  • Bishops
  • Imam
  • Nuns
  • Spiritual Leaders
  • Spiritual Advisors
What Are Examples of Clergy Sex Abuse in Philadelphia?

Clergy sexual abuse can be subtle and ongoing, or drastic and abrupt. Some examples of clergy sex abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Sharing pornographic material with a child
  • Possession of child pornography
  • Forcing a child to have sex with another person
  • Videotaping or recording a child in sexual acts
  • Forcing a child to touch a clergy person’s genitals or intimate areas
  • Touching a child’s genitals or intimate areas
  • Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration with a finger, penis, or other objects
  • Sending sexually explicit emails
  • Sexting
What Are the Effects of Clergy Sex Abuse in Philadelphia?

Victims of clergy sex abuse experienced severe trauma. They are betrayed in a horrific manner by the person or people they are taught are closest to God. They are made to feel ashamed and that God brought this on them for their sins. Many experiences the following as a result of the abuse:

  • Severe nightmares
  • Night terrors
  • Low self-esteem
  • Substance abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Distrust of authority
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
Who Are the Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse in Philadelphia?

Victims of clergy sex abuse in Philadelphia are often children who are in coveted positions within the religious community. These children feel it is an honor to be called by God to be in these positions. They can be males or females and come from any economic background. The clergy people take advantage of their position within the community and the level of trust bestowed upon them by the parents and children. They use this trust through their advantage to groom and then sexually use and abuse these children. The children are often ashamed and feel that the actions are God’s will because the clergy has conditioned them to believe that.

What Rights Do Clergy Sex Abuse Victims Have in Philadelphia?

Reports of clergy sex abuse in Philadelphia sparked changes in the laws affecting the ability to report clergy sexual abuse and even bring a lawsuit. Ass of August 27, 2002, a victim of clergy sexual abuse can file a lawsuit for any clergy sexual abuse which occurred on or after that date until the victim reaches the age of 30. Any incident occurring before August 27, 2002, includes a statute of limitations of 5 years after the victim turns 18 (or until the victim reaches age 23).

As for criminal charges, any child under the age of 18 can, at any point until the age of 18, press charges against a clergy person for clergy sexual abuse. However, since 2002, once the victim reaches 18, the time limit to file a criminal complaint is 32 years, or once the victim reaches the age of 50.

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

In a religious community, there are many people responsible for a child. As a result, many people could and should be held responsible for clergy sexual abuse. Accomplices to the abuse may include, but are not limited to:

  • Other members of the clergy community
  • Individuals with a responsibility to report wrongdoing that chose not to report it
  • Religious teachers
  • Community elders
What Type of Justice in Criminal Court is Typically available to Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse in Philadelphia?

When a person is the victim of clergy sex abuse, they become witnesses in criminal court to help put the clergy person in prison so they cannot continue to hurt others. The sentencing for clergy sexual abuse are:

  • First-degree misdemeanor. The sentence is up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
  • Third-degree felony. The sentence is up to 7 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
  • Second-degree felony. The sentence is up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
  • First-degree felony. The sentence is up to 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
What Remedies Are Available in Civil Court for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse in Philadelphia?

In contrast, when you choose to file a lawsuit against the clergy who sexually abused you, you become a party in the lawsuit. The courts offer relief to plaintiffs who are victims of clergy sexual abuse in the form of:

  • Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
  • Therapy and counseling expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
What Resources Are Available for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse in Philadelphia?
  • Lauren’s Kids. Lauren’s Kids helps children by offering guidance and education to begin the healing process.
  • RAINN. Rape, Assault, Incest, National Network is the largest national organization which 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 find therapists, and other helpful resources needed to move forward.
  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. This organization helps children overcome the trauma of the abuse through the use of evaluation and therapies.
  • Stop It Now. Stop It Now is geared towards helping adult survivors of clergy sexual abuse find the organizations to help the healing process.

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

Clergy sexual abuse hits close to home, taking innocence away from children and using religion as the grooming tool. If you or a loved one is the victim of clergy sexual abuse in Philadelphia, our team of former sex-crimes prosecutors and experienced attorneys can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today at (215) 391-4790 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.

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