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The Turning Point for Justice | Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church

“Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.” This quote is from the first paragraph of the 2018 report that first brought to light a substantial amount of names of sexual predators in the Catholic Church. The report by the Dioceses responsible for these predators prompted others to do the same. Two years later, just the Dioceses of California and New York alone, have released the names of more than 1,200 members of the clergy who have been deemed “credibly accused.” Given the new handling of sexual abusers in the ranks of the Church, the governments of California and New York have partially lifted what is perhaps the biggest obstacle for victims that seek to obtain justice: the statute of limitations.

Catholic church sex abuse allegations

Picture courtesy the Irish Sun

The Catalyst

In 2018, a grand jury investigating the extent of sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church, from a court in Pennsylvania, showed in its nearly 900-page long report that just from the Church’s records alone, more than 1,000 victims could be identified. Although there are presumably more victims and abusers out there, the report could only confirm the names of 300 abusers. Nevertheless, two months after the report was released only two priests were charged.

Catholic Church Lawsuit

Some of these cases go back as far as the 1940s which unfortunately means that, until recently, the victims could not file a lawsuit because of the statute of limitations in place for sexual abuse cases regarding minors. Statutes of limitations can either set a limit on the maximum age a victim can have to file a complaint, or a maximum period of time that can pass after the assault. Nevertheless, recent developments indicate that history will not repeat itself.

sex abuse scandal in catholic church

Story by Justia, Pic courtesy CNN

Learning from Mistakes

This report led to a wave of other Dioceses to report the names of clergy that could be deemed “credibly accused.” ProPublica, a New York based non-profit focused on investigative journalism, has compiled all the names that have been reported by Dioceses nationwide. This list contains the names of more than 6,700 sexual predators, of which more than 1,200 are from California and New York alone. Looking at the Archdiocese of New York as an example, approximately three-quarters of predators were ordained between 1908 and 1969, which resembles the situation in Pennsylvania where the sexual assaults probably happened so long ago they can no longer be presented to the court. However, both the governments of California and New York have taken steps to ensure this is not the case in order to avoid what happened previously.

US Catholic Church Spent $281,611,817 on child sex abuse cases in 2019 According to a yearly audit of the Catholic Church by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Why You Should Act Now

Last year, both New York and California changed the statute of limitations they had in place for sexual abuse of minors. California now allows victims to file claims until the age of 40, or 5 years after the abuse. Previously the law required claims to be filed before the victim turns 26 years old, or 3 years after the abuse. New York took a more drastic measure, allowing victims as old as 55 years of age to file a complaint, where originally it was limited to victims younger than 23. The real beacon of hope for victims, however, is the new limited period of time where anyone can file a complaint against their childhood sexual abuser, regardless of how long ago the incident happened. California is giving victims 3 years to file their claim, until January 2023, while New York is just giving two years, extending its original deadline by one year until August 2021.

A new report from U.S. Roman Catholic bishops tallies 4,434 sex abuse allegations against church clergy in the audit year through last June — triple the number from the previous year (Image Courtesy The Associated Press)

This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to seek justice for the harm that was done to you or a loved one. If you have been sexually abused when you were a minor please reach out to us, for you may be entitled to financial compensation. Time is of the essence, so we highly encourage you to get in contact with us as soon as possible.

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Our team at Oppenheim Law recognizes that nothing can take back what has been done, yet we do believe you have the right to make justice happen. That is why our firm provides a team of professionals committed to zealously represent our clients. We are currently representing clients that were sexually abused while affiliated with the Boy Scouts so we are well versed in how to handle these types of extremely sensitive matters.

Please feel free to contact us at (954) 384-6114 or e-mail us at so we can inform you of your legal rights so you can obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.

From the Trenches,

Roy Oppenheim


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