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California Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyers

Sexual abuse at the hands of clerics often proves immensely traumatic for victims. Not only must these people suffer at the hands of another human being, but they must live with the knowledge that somebody they trusted betrayed that faith. Most victims of clergy sexual abuse are also children. This makes an already sickening reality all the more painful.

Victims of clergy sexual abuse should understand their rights and the legal processes that may play into their cases. The more a victim understands what happened to them and how they can move forward, the more empowered they are to make the best decisions for their lives. If you feel as though you have been a victim of sexual abuse then speak with the trusted and sensitive California personal injury attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys to discuss what your options are.

The Prevalence of Sexual Abuse by Clergy

Sex abuse on the part of Catholic priests gets the most attention due to the sheer number of survivors who have come forward and the scope of the resulting scandals. Catholicism, however, is hardly the only faith community in which clergy abuse their authority.  Lutherans, Southern Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Methodists have endured sex abuse scandals. Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam are not immune, either.

Clergy hold positions of power over the adults and children who share their faith. This puts them in the position to manipulate—sometimes through fear, but sometimes just by exploiting innocent people. Extensive research has indicated that sexual assault, violence, and abuse is especially prevalent in scenarios that involve authority figures such as these.

Tack on the immense emotional pressure of religious faith and you have a recipe for disaster. Church members who feel unfulfilled in their religion or who struggle to feel accepted by God or their churches may find themselves abused by members of the clergy. These predators know how to pinpoint insecure and primed victims—and many pursue them aggressively.

Parents, in particular, should recognize that much of the sexual abuse carried out by clergy members involves children. Adult abuse is relatively uncommon—but many previous victims of childhood sexual abuse don’t take legal action until well into their adulthoods. Keep in mind that adult church members around you may harbor immense grief and fear as a result of experiences they endured long ago. These survivors, too, deserve compassion and justice.

Clergy Sexual Abuse: Should You Hire an Attorney?

Victims of any variety of sexual abuse should hire a trustworthy, seasoned attorney. The right lawyer can help simplify the legal process and clarify questions or concerns that victims may experience throughout. Many sexual abuse victims find that they feel disempowered, fearful, and uncertain as they begin their pursuit of justice; but, with an experienced attorney by your side, you’ll be well-equipped to see your case through to the end.

If you believe that you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy, contact an attorney as soon as possible. The Gomez Law Firm retains an extensive team of knowledgeable, empathetic, and hardworking legal professionals who are ready to assist victims as soon as necessary. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation or to learn more about our services.

The Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

Many behaviors and other factors that could indicate clergy sexual abuse apply to any time of the sexual assault. Some victims may act differently depending on whether their abuse was acute or systemic; others may fail to demonstrate any warning signs at all. There’s no guarantee that a victim will behave in a certain way after their experience; however, some signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • The appearance of sexually transmitted infections
  • Physical trauma to the genital area
  • An increase in inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Bedwetting (in children)
  • Fear of being alone
  • Mistrust of authority
  • Confusion concerning faith or religion
  • Excessive discussions or behaviors centering around sexual concepts (especially those that are inappropriate for the victim’s age if they are a child)

Keep in mind that every sexual abuse victim responds to their experiences differently. The best way to increase the likelihood of pinpointing abuse is to foster open and honest discussions. Creating an environment where victims feel more comfortable discussing their traumas is the first step to achieving justice.

California’s Independent Compensation Programs

This proved a monumental year of victims of clergy sexual abuse in California. The Catholic Bishops of California established the Independent Compensation Program for Victim-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests. Several prevalent dioceses opened their doors to integrate the program:

  • Archdiocese of Los Angeles
  • Diocese of Fresno
  • Diocese of Orange
  • Diocese of Sacramento
  • Diocese of San Bernardino
  • Diocese of San Diego

Any childhood abuse victim who experienced sexual assault at the hands of a clergy member can take part in the program. Catholic Bishops stand by this commitment to victim-survivors and their right to compensation and assistance.

Victims can even file claims through the program if certain factors bar them from filing traditionally. If the abuse has not been reported to the church, the statute of limitations for a case has passed, or the victim is an undocumented immigrant, there’s still a chance to pursue compensation. Participation in the program is free and voluntary.

You will want to contact a California sex abuse attorney before you attempt to file any action, whether through the state court system or the Independent Compensation Program for Victim-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests. An attorney will make sure that any compensation you recover is adequate for your situation.

The Gomez Law Firm: Assisting Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse

If your case proves legally sound, a qualified sexual abuse attorney could help you immeasurably. Not only will a seasoned attorney be able to help guide you through the tangled legal process, but they’ll also keep your best interests in mind.

Many sexual abuse victims find themselves overwhelmed, confused, and triggered as they begin to build their cases. An empathetic and experienced attorney can help ease your mind and offer support during this turbulent time. Survivors need to partner with lawyers who can doggedly pursue compensation without letting their welfare fall by the wayside.

At The Gomez Law Firm, we understand how difficult it can be for victims of sexual abuse to protect their rights and seek legal recourse for their experiences. That’s why we retain a team full of compassionate legal professionals who know how to help you succeed. Our attorneys partner with clients to build their confidence and knowledge; we strive to empower each individual regardless of their experience.

If you or a loved one was sexually abused by a member of the clergy, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices today. One of our knowledgeable and understanding team members will be happy to field your comments, questions, and concerns before determining whether our services will be the right fit for your case. You can reach us at (619) 237-3490 or write to us online.

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