San Antonio Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Clergy Sexual Abuse in San Antonio, TX
In the last few decades, the widespread abuse of children in various religious groups – such as the Catholic Church and the FLDS Church – has come to light through media attention and lawsuits. The Me Too Movement – which began to go viral on social media in 2017 – also continued the conversation of institutional sexual abuse.
The increased media attention, lawsuits, and the Me Too Movement made everyone realize the extent of the sexual abuse crisis in the church. Thousands of young boys and girls are sexually abused by Catholic priests, bishops, pastors, deacons, and other religious leaders every year. Clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic church is incredibly traumatizing for the victims and families involved. In fact, many child sexual abuse victims suffer from a wide variety of physical and mental health issues for the rest of their lives. Up until a few years ago, the Texas statute of limitations prevented sex abuse victims from seeking justice and compensation for their suffering. But now, victims in the state of Texas have until their 48th birthday to sue their abusers.
If you have suffered sexual abuse in the Catholic church, Mormon church, Methodist church, or any other church, you have grounds to take legal action. The legal team at Janicek Law wants to help you speak up, seek justice, and receive a fair settlement. Call 210-366-4949 to schedule a free consultation with us today.
What is Clergy Abuse?
Clergy abuse occurs when church leaders (a priest, a pastor, a deacon, a bishop, a youth pastor, a worship leader, etc.) physically or sexually abuse someone else within the church. The most common victims of clergy abuse are children and teens.
How Common is Clergy Sexual Abuse in the U.S.?
Clergy abuse is unfortunately very common across multiple religious groups, but the sex abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church is probably the most well known.
There is no way to truly know the exact number of sexual abuse cases committed by church officials. Why? Sexual abuse victims are often shamed and threatened into silence by their abusers. Very young victims are often too naïve and confused about the situation to recognize its severity. If the victims are brave enough to speak up about the abuse they have suffered, the church often takes every possible measure to cover it up and protect the abusive priests. In fact, there have been countless cover ups within the Catholic church and other religious communities.
However, we will discuss the approximate clergy sex abuse numbers that we do know within the Catholic church, Methodist church, Southern Baptist Convention, and the Mormon church.
Catholic Church Abuse Data
Sexual abuse accusations date back several decades within the Catholic church. The victims are mostly boys, but girls are sexually abused as well. There are a few studies and online archives that paint a damning picture of child sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic priests.
Bishop Accountability is an online archive of sexual misconduct committed by Catholic clergy members. This source reports that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) counted upwards of 7,000 credible sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests from 1950 to 2018. The USCCB estimates that there were more than 20,000 victims of child sexual abuse within this 68 year time frame.
John Jay Report
Meanwhile, a study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (frequently called the “John Jay Report”) states that 4,450 of the 110,000 Catholic priests (4%) included in the study have faced accusations of child sex abuse between the years of 1950 and 2002. Only 252 priests accused were actually convicted of child sex abuse. That breaks down to 5.7% of the accused priests and less than 0.1% of total priests. An even smaller number of accused clergy (100) actually went to jail for the crimes committed.
With startling statistics like this, it’s no wonder that more victims don’t feel brave enough to speak up about Catholic church sexual abuse. If they do, they are risking their safety, their reputation, and their mental wellbeing. Tragically, so many victims take these risks only for their abusers to not face any criminal charges or penalties.
The San Antonio sexual abuse lawyers at Janicek Law want to change this. We want to stand by victims who have been sexually abused within Roman Catholic dioceses in Texas. Our team recognizes that taking civil action against predator priests is crucial for obtaining justice and safeguarding children. Allow us to stand by your side and help you speak up.
Methodist Church Abuse Data
There is less data regarding sexual abuse claims within the Methodist church, but that doesn’t mean that such crimes aren’t committed within this denomination.
4,374 people participated in a 2017 survey conducted by the GCSRW. More than 58% of women and more than 35% of men reported sexual abuse claims within the Methodist church. 23% of survey participants claimed that church pastors committed the abuse while 15% claimed that other church leaders committed the abuse.
Southern Baptist Convention Abuse Data
A 2019 Houston Chronicle report states that approximately 380 Southern Baptist Convention church leaders faced sexual assault claims. The report estimates that 700 victims suffered at the hands of these leaders. The Southern Baptist Convention actively tried to cover up this sexual abuse crisis by moving the church leaders to other churches.
Mormon Church Abuse Data
There is very little data that shows how common sexual abuse is within the Mormon church, but again, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen on a regular basis.
Possibly the biggest (and most well-known) sex abuse scandal revolves around Warren Jeffs, former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church). In 2007, Jeffs faced two counts of rape as an accomplice, but the conviction was later overturned. Later, in 2011, Jeffs was convicted of two felony counts of child sexual assault. He is currently serving a life sentence plus 20 years in jail for his widespread abuse of young girls within the church. Experts believe that Warren Jeffs had upwards of 78 wives – many of which were under the age of 18 – and had sexually abused more than 480 young girls.
Another example of sexual abuse within the Mormon church is when the church used its sexual abuse hotline to silence victims.
Examples of Sexual Abuse by Clergy Members
It’s difficult for many victims to determine what is considered sexual abuse and what isn’t. That’s because many of these victims were young and naïve when the abuse happened, and it’s difficult for children to fully understand what is happening to them.
Additionally, psychological manipulation often plays a huge role in sex abuse cases. A Catholic priest or other church official will do or say whatever it takes to silence these victims. This means that they may threaten physical harm or gaslight the victim into believing that what is happening is normal and fine. As a result, many child sexual abuse victims won’t realize that the sexual touching they experienced is actually abuse until many years later.
With that being said, here are common examples of sexual misconduct and abuse committed by clergy members:
- Fondling and/or sexual touching of the genitalia and breasts
- Performing or asking for oral sex
- Sexual intercourse
- Any kind of anal, oral, and/or vaginal penetration by another body part or object
- Kissing on the lips
- Filming, distributing, or possessing child pornography
- Undressing in front of a victim
- Masturbation in front of a victim
- Forcing a victim to engage in mutual masturbation
- Frequent sexual conversations with a victim (discussing their sex life, asking about the victim’s sexual experiences, general sexual flirting)
- Sexual harassment
- Giving inappropriate gifts to victims, such as lingerie or sex toys
If you or someone you love has experienced any of these forms of clergy sex abuse, you have grounds to contact a San Antonio sexual abuse lawyer at Janicek Law.
Long-Term Effects of Clergy Sexual Abuse
Even if the child sexual abuse was a one time event, the victim will likely relive and remember the horror for the rest of their lives. Sexual abuse can create neurobiological changes in the brain, therefore leading to life-long physical and mental problems such as:
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic anxiety and/or depression
- Panic disorders
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Substance abuse
- Personality disorders
- Gastrointestinal health issues (chronic nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and/or lack of appetite)
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Eating disorders
- Extreme weight issues such as being underweight or overweight
- Chronic fatigue
- Frequent headaches
- Cardiopulmonary issues like irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart disease, etc.
- Hypersexuality or hyposexuality
- And so much more
Victims of child sex abuse also struggle to find and maintain healthy relationships, whether that be friendships or romantic relationships. They may suffer from chronic trust issues, feeling unloved and unworthy constantly, and feeling unsafe. They may also gravitate towards abusive people and relationships because, as a child, they confused abuse with love.
Even when the sexual abuse does come to an end, the body keeps the score. This means that the victims’ bodies will always remember how it felt to be the sexual objects of these clergy members. As a result, the abused children will likely be in and out of doctor’s offices and therapist’s offices for the rest of their lives. Clergy members deserve to be held accountable for this level of damage.
Can I Sue for Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Yes, you can definitely sue for clergy sexual abuse especially if it has severely disrupted your body, mind, and life. The San Antonio sexual abuse lawyers at Janicek Law are passionate about holding church officials accountable for their actions. We can help victims of child sexual abuse recover financial compensation through a civil lawsuit.
Damages for Clergy Sexual Abuse
If you have suffered sexual abuse in the Catholic church (or any other church), our legal team can help you recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical expenses relating to psychiatric medications, psych ward hospitalizations, and stress-related physical ailments
- Lost wages of your sexual trauma has caused you to miss work
- Loss of earning capacity if your sexual trauma prevents you from accomplishing one or more of your job duties
- Emotional distress
- Mental health counseling expenses
- Loss of consortium if your sexual trauma prevents you from having a normal relationship with your spouse
What is the Average Settlement Amount for Clergy Sexual Abuse?
According to combined data from Bishop Accountability and the John Jay Report, victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse have received a grand total of $3 billion in settlements over the last several decades. But the average settlement amount that Catholic Church sexual abuse victims have received is approximately $268,000.
Texas Statute of Limitations for Clergy Sexual Abuse
Tragically, by the time many victims of child sex abuse grow up and realize what has happened to them, they can no longer seek justice due to a tight window of time called the statute of limitations. This is why many states, including Texas, have recently extended the statute of limitations for victims of Catholic church sexual abuse.
According to a 2019 Associated Press article, Texas raised the age limit for sexual abuse claims from 33 to 48. In other words, victims abused by church officials have until their 48th birthday to file a civil lawsuit and recover damages. So if you have suffered sex abuse from priests in the Roman Catholic church (or any other church) and you’re younger than 48 years old, it’s not too late to seek justice. Contact the legal team at Janicek Law and we can fight for you.