Abused by Nuns
The past decade has brought to light serious allegations of sexual abuse against the Catholic Church, with new stories still appearing in the news. Now, another group of religious leaders are facing claims of abuse: nuns. CBS News has reported cases of molestation and other mistreatment from those willing to share their stories.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is a resource for survivors. One survivor, a former nun herself, described her experience of being molested by a superior. She was called into an office and knelt by her superior. Then, the other woman kissed the victim’s face repeatedly, making her very uncomfortable.
The former nun now works with SNAP, and said that before the sexual abuse scandal started, she rarely heard about abuse by nuns. She says that nuns take difficult vows of celibacy and chastity, and their culture is extremely private. Since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s report identified pedophile priests in the state, 18 people have reached out to tell her about their experiences with abuse.
More Survivors Speak Out
Another woman told CBS about how she was sexually abused by two church officials. When she was five years old, a priest, who was also her uncle, started sexually abusing her, which lasted for years. She first revealed this to a nun at a New Jersey convent. The nun later gave her alcohol and drugs and taught her about sex. The survivor later reported this to the congregation, who paid her a large settlement out-of-court.
Congregation representatives stated that they investigated the claim right away, and that they acted in a responsible way. The accused nun lost her position as a grade school principal but is still a nun. The church gives her housing and food, although she is not permitted to provide outside ministry.
Effects of Abuse
The woman who was abused twice said that she is facing a lifetime of suffering and trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder. She had issues with drug and alcohol addiction, dating back to when the abuse started. Now, she feels that the settlement does not equal the amount of distress that she is dealing with, and that other nuns were aware of the situation. She hopes that sharing her story will give others the courage to speak up and prevent the abuse from happening again.
The Church’s Response
In early January, Catholic bishops from different parts of the country met in Chicago at the behest of Pope Francis. This retreat lasted a week and was organized around spiritual reflection and prayer. No new policies were announced.
The International Union of Superiors General, which is the Catholic Church’s world-wide nun organization, issued a statement late last year. They urged nuns who have experienced sexual abuse by the church to report it and made a vow to help them do so to help survivors and find justice.
Georgetown Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Help Victims of Sexual Abuse
If you or someone you care for has been abused by a clergy member, a Georgetown sexual abuse lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. can help. For a free case evaluation, fill out an online form or call us at 302-656-5445. With offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we represent clients in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.
Suits of Sexual Abuse Against Pittsburgh Diocese
Sexual abuse of children is among the most heinous crimes a person can commit. Yet, over the past few years, evidence of extensive sexual abuse of children by priests within the Roman Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania has been revealed. The work to uncover this abuse has not been easy. The dioceses have consistently worked to conceal abuse by its clergy. They have also enabled sexual abuse of children by allowing accused priests to continue attending to parishioners and their children.
Evidence Continues to Mount
Recently, several lawsuits were filed in Allegheny County against the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh regarding four priests that were not named in prior lawsuits. Many of the suits provide evidence of grooming, a methodical process of manipulating a person to a point where they can be victimized. Activities such as giving gifts, going on trips, and gradually escalating touching were reported in several new cases.
Some of the cases also allege coordinated abuse among priests. If a child had already been groomed and victimized by one priest, they would be given a cross to wear. This would then serve as a signal to other predator priests that the child was already groomed, victimized, and unlikely to report abuse. By wearing the cross, the child was inadvertently broadcasting their vulnerability to other predators.
There were also two very disturbing commonalities among the lawsuits. First, priests would threaten punishment by Jesus if the child informed anyone of the abuse. Second, trusted adults, including parents and grandparents, refused to believe children who reported the abuse. Such acts can absolutely devastate a child.
Barrier to Justice
Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse have only been able to come forward with their accusations as adults. Often, this happens after the statute of limitations has expired. Until now, this has been a barrier to justice. In recent days, a new path has been forged to compel release of information regarding sex abuse offenders in the Catholic diocese of Pennsylvania.
Dismantling the Cover-up
Two survivors whose abuse occurred outside the statute of limitations have filed suit against the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the state’s diocese alleging crimes of conspiracy and nuisance under state law. The remedy they seek is to compel every diocese across Pennsylvania to reveal the names of all clergy members who took part in enabling and concealing child sex abuse. The attorney for the survivors said that a recent grand jury report issued by the Office of the Attorney General has not done enough to address the problem since it does not force any of the bishops to reveal the names of the offenders or the history of the bishops and top church officials that concealed the abuse.
Georgetown Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Advocate for Victims of Clergy Abuse
Sexual abuse of any kind is abhorrent. When it involves a spiritual leader abusing a child under their charge, it is nearly unfathomable. We understand the difficulties faced by survivors. The Georgetown sexual abuse lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. have successfully won cases for victims of sexual abuse. We encourage you to allow us to defend your case against a sexual abuser regardless of when the abuse occurred. Call us at 302-656-5445 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.
Nearly 80 Abusive Priests Remain on Diocese Payroll
In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury report identified over 300 abusive priests in the Catholic church and detailed alleged acts of sexual abuse committed against children within six dioceses that spanned decades. This report prompted the push to remove the statute of limitations for filing claims in older cases, instigation of other state clergy abuse investigations, initiation of civil lawsuits against dioceses and clergy members, and onset of diocese-based compensation funds for survivors of clergy abuse. While these strides may appear as steps toward rectifying the abuse pervading the Catholic church, one issue left out of the conversation is that nearly 80 abusive priests continue to receive compensation.
Removal from the Priesthood
Despite being removed from their respective ministries, the abusive priests receive both paychecks and pensions from the dioceses in which they formerly presided. Though the priests may be defrocked and relieved from their duties, this does not mean that they lose their compensation or even their status as clerics. The Pope must officially remove the priest from the priesthood and cease their ability to collect compensation. Laicization, the official process for removal of a priest, must be approved by the Pope and could take years to occur or may never take place at all.
Why Priests Still Receive Compensation
Defrocked priests continue to receive compensation for reasons beyond the fact that only the pope can officially remove a priest from the priesthood. According to diocese officials, they believe that the Vatican may be reluctant to conduct laicization due to the advanced age and deteriorating health of certain priests. Bishops from some of the dioceses may decide to avoid the defrocking process altogether and permit the abusive priest to receive retirement compensation, which is funded by the church.
Where Retired Priests Reside
Some predatory priests who even admitted to the sexual abuse of children reside in a retirement home, Villa St. Joseph, owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Sixteen abusive priests live in the home and are enrolled in a program called “Prayer and Penance,” where they are supposedly being monitored. Instead of going through the laicization process, the priests live in the home, which is funded by the diocese. Representatives at the home state that the reason they reside there is due to the advanced age and compromised health of the residents. Unfortunately, this does not provide solace to those who survived abuse by the predatory priests who may never be punished for their actions.
The Experienced Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Fight for Clergy Abuse Survivors in Delaware and Pennsylvania
If you or a loved one has suffered sexual abuse by a clergy member, contact a compassionate Delaware sexual abuse lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. We will provide support and fiercely advocate for your rights, so that the healing process can begin.
Please call 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware. We serve clients from the surrounding areas, including those in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. We also have an office in Media to assist clients in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania.
What Feds Want to Find in Clergy Abuse Cases
In another investigation into the Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, the FBI is collecting specific evidence to prove that Catholic clergy committed sexual crimes against children.
The investigation included recovering documentation, files, and testimony to prove that clergy:
- Took children across state lines for illicit purposes
- Physically threatened and abused victims to stop them from contacting police
- Used money, gifts, and trips to gain victim compliance
- Sent sexual images and messages electronically
- The church reassigned those suspected of clergy abuse
Common Child Lures
Although the above investigation is not the first time the Catholic church has been in hot water, perpetrators of sexual abuse of children are not confined to religious figures. In fact, clergy is just one of the many occupations that fits a child predator’s profile; but child abuse can be committed by anyone in any occupation.
The truth is, at least 90 percent of all sexually abused children are abused by someone they know and trust, and oftentimes it is another family member.
There are 16 identified child lures that are used by child predators. Child lures are certain behaviors and situations that allow a predator to appear trustworthy to both the child and the child’s family.
The following is a list of several such lures that were discovered to be part of the Catholic dioceses’ systematic clergy abuse:
- Bribery Lure: Gifts to coerce engagement in the illicit behavior, or as reward for keeping quiet
- Threat Lure: Violence or intimidation to keep quiet
- Online & Electronic Communication Lure: Sexual predators can communicate with their victims covertly online or via text
- Pornography Lure: Pedophiles often use pornography to appeal to a child’s curiosity
- Authority Lure: Using social status and power to gain trust and then exploit children
- Affection Lure: Befriending a child, especially when a parent may be physically or emotionally absent from the child’s life
How Can We Protect Our Children?
As parents, it is not something we like to think about. But sexual predators are out there, and the research indicates they are often someone we know. The first step to protecting our children is to trust gut feelings about others, and not allowing a child to be alone with anyone who seems “off”.
Additionally, educating children about the common child lures can provide children with the resources they need to protect themselves when parents cannot be there.
Here are some important topics to discuss with children:
- Bathing suit zone: Teach children that this area is private and off limits to others.
- The boss of your body: No one has a right to touch, photograph, or look at parts of their body.
- No secrets: Assure children that all secrets should be told, and they will be protected from further harm when they do so.
- Family Emergency Plan: Inform children that a stranger will never be asked to pick them up for any reason. Children should ignore a stranger with this claim, and families should have a well-rehearsed plan to handle real emergencies.
Georgetown Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Advocate for Survivors of Clergy Abuse
If you or your child are suffering from the aftermath of sexual abuse, empower yourself, and begin the healing process today by contacting a Georgetown sexual abuse lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Our dedicated lawyers can offer compassionate, discrete guidance, while holding those responsible accountable for their actions. Call 302-656-5445 or complete our online form for a free initial consultation. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware we represent clients in Dover, Newcastle County, Sussex County, and throughout the state.
Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse
A grand jury report detailed credible allegations of sex abuse against approximately 1,000 child victims by more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania. Due to lack of reporting, the number of victims is more likely to be in the thousands. The grand jury report is said to be the largest, most comprehensive document alleging child sex abuse in the Catholic church ever filed in the U.S.
Allegations of Widespread Child Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania
Six dioceses throughout the state were implicated and grand jurors found that church leaders throughout the state chose to protect the priests and the institution in one of the largest cover-ups ever exposed.
When the sexual abuse was reported, priests were often sent to other parishes in order to sweep the allegations under the rug and protect church leaders. Attempts to silence accusers and cover up the abuse caused the statute of limitations to run out in almost every case, according to the grand jury.
Current Statute of Limitations Prevents Victims from Justice
The allegations of abuse date back to 1947. According to the grand jury, because the accusations were prevented from coming out and were covered up for decades, many of these cases are too old to be prosecuted due to the Pennsylvania statute of limitations.
The current Pennsylvania statute of limitations prohibits child sex abuse victims from filing criminal charges after they turn 50 years old and civil claims after they turn 30. A proposed bill that would eliminate the time limit for criminal charges and change the civil lawsuit limitation to age 50 is now before the state House, after being passed unanimously by the Senate last year.
State Representative Proposes a Two-Year Window
A Pennsylvania state Representative, who is also a former victim of child sex abuse by a priest, is pushing for an amendment to the bill that would allow child sex abuse victims a two-year window to sue their abusers once the bill is passed, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.
The Senate previously rejected the proposal but the representative hopes they will reconsider it due to the present wide-sweeping allegations. The grand jury supports the two-year retroactive window, but a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses stated that such legislative matters will be addressed later and that for the time being, they are solely focusing on the survivors’ healing process.
If the bill is passed, thousands of child sex abuse victims will have the opportunity to get the justice and closure they need. It remains to be seen whether the legislature will crack down on this systemic abuse by passing the bill and making reforms.
Georgetown Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Seek Justice for Sex Abuse Survivors
If you are a survivor of sex abuse, contact a Georgetown sexual abuse lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. We have been litigating childhood sexual abuse cases against churches, schools, and doctors since 2004, and we also advocate for adult survivors of sexual abuse and assault. From our offices in Georgetown and Wilmington, Delaware, we represent clients throughout the state. Our attorneys are also licensed to practice in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. For a confidential consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445.
Delaware Launches Investigation Into Potential Clergy Sex Abuse
Delaware launched an investigation into potential sexual abuse committed by priests in the Catholic church community. The current Attorney General Matt Denn issued a subpoena to the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware on September 11, a month following the publication of the Pennsylvania Catholic church grand jury report. The investigation will cover sexual abuse and other types of abuse committed by Catholic priests and other clergy members since 1955. A previous investigation took place regarding clergy sex abuse records from 2002 to 2004.
Cases involving clergy members sexually abusing children may be trending in the news, but it is an age-old problem for which religious entities such as the Catholic church have seemingly swept under the carpet. Children who endure sexual abuse may face a lifetime of struggles including academic challenges, substance abuse, depression, suicidal tendencies, difficulty engaging in healthy relationships, and various psychological disorders. Sexual abuse survivors are entitled to justice, and their abusers must be held accountable for their unlawful actions.
If you or someone you love endured sexual abuse by a clergy member, the Delaware clergy abuse lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. will treat you and your concerns with respect and compassion. Please call 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation. We represent sexual abuse and assault victims throughout Delaware including Dover and Georgetown.
Big Brother Pennsylvania Should Learn From Its Little Brother Delaware
Years ago, when they were both colonies, Delaware and Pennsylvania had the same Governor and their own legislature. For years, Delaware has looked to Pennsylvania for guidance. It is about time in the case of Childhood Sex Abuse that Pennsylvania follows Delaware’s lead.
In 2007, after the first Philadelphia Grand Jury report on the problem of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church and a series of news articles that reveal a similar pattern in the Wilmington Delaware Diocese, The Delaware General Assembly passed a law giving survivors of childhood sex abuse whose right to file a case had been barred by Delaware’s two year statute of limitations, a “two year window “ wherein previously barred claims could be filed. This is basically what the Pa. House has passed and what the Pa. Senate just ignored.
The Catholic Church and the Insurance Industry made the same objection in Delaware in 2007 that we have recently heard in Pa. – it was unconstitutional, it would be financially devastating to the good Charitable institutions etc. None of these proved true. The Delaware Supreme Court unanimously rejected the constitutional challenge.
On the eve of one of the first trials, the Catholic Diocese, realizing they were going to lose the case before the Jury, filed for reorganization bankruptcy. Like many businesses who have sought Chapter 11 protection, this was just a tool to minimize their expense and force the plaintiffs to settle all at once. The Diocese paid off the survivors and emerged from the Bankruptcy with little change in their operations.
The litigation did finally open up for the World to see (the story was reported even in Rome) what the Church had done to cover up the sins and crimes of its Priests. For the first time in decades, survivors got some measure of justice.
Clergy Abuse Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Represent Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
An important step in healing is to confront the abuser and hold them accountable. The Delaware sexual abuse lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. empower survivors to seek justice in order to enable them to move forward without fear or shame. Call 302-656-5445 or complete our online form for a free initial consultation in a supportive environment. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, as well as our new office in Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout the surrounding areas.
Sen. Scarnati’s Proposed Compensation Fund – a Scam
It is no surprise that the Catholic hierarchy in Pennsylvania has warmly embraced Sen. Scarnati’s last minute attempt to derail the momentum to pass a Window Law which would finally after decades allow survivors of horrific sexual abuse and the Church’s cover-up to finally obtain some measure of justice.
The compensation fund proposal is a slap in the face. It is based on the premise that the victims only want money. Having represented hundreds of survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse I can state that money is secondary to almost all the survivors.
What they want and need for any real healing is accountability and transparency. The survivors need to be able to force their abuser and /or the enablers to testify under oath and often in their presence. They want to have some sense that their pain will not have been in vain and real change will occur.
The PA Grand Jury report was the first step. A series of civil cases will involve the production of documents – which can be made available to the public – which will ensure this never happens again. When the survivors of clergy abuse settled here in Delaware, one of their major demands was the public production of the abuse files. In the end they were all produced, and they have had an international impact – being quoted even in the Italian papers.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse by a clergy member and are ready to have your voice heard, please call a dedicated and compassionate clergy abuse lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. at 302-656-5445 to arrange a free and confidential consultation or submit an online contact form. We have offices in Delaware and Pennsylvania to represent clients nationwide.