Attorney for Sexual Abuse Victims at Churches in Queens
Priests, clergy, and lay-clergy in New York City have had more than 100 accusations of sexual abuse and rape committed against children and others in their churches and communities. These victims may face severe trauma and debilitating effects in their lives, potentially resulting in substantial damages. While the criminal justice system may be able to put some of these abusers behind bars, many abusers escape justice because of their old age or the expired statute of limitations. Victims of sexual abuse at churches in Queens may be able to hold their abusers accountable in the civil court system, seeking compensation and justice for the harm they suffered, even if the abuse occurred nearly 50 years ago.
For a free legal consultation, call Sullivan and Galleshaw. Our sexual abuse victim attorneys represent victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault in the church and fight to get them the justice they deserve from the individuals who abused them and the institutions that allowed the abuse to happen. To schedule a confidential meeting with our lawyers to discuss your potential case, call (718) 843-0300 today.
The Process of Suing Priests for Sexual Abuse in Queens, NYC
While the process of holding someone accountable for a crime typically starts with calling the police or reporting the crime to the District Attorney’s Office, civil claims are filed directly with the court. Your lawyer can file the paperwork accusing an individual priest of abuse and, if it applies to your situation, your lawyer can join the church itself in the lawsuit to hold them accountable for their participation in the abuse.
When you file a civil lawsuit, your case is presented to a judge. The defendants – the abuser and the church – will have an opportunity to claim that the case should be dismissed on legal grounds or because the statute of limitations has lapsed, but if your case is legally sound, it can progress to trial. Before trial, you and your lawyer will be able to subpoena witnesses and defendants and hold depositions to hear their side of the story and gather evidence to help support your claim. We can track down potential witnesses and supervisors at the church who may have known of the abuse. If there are records of accusations against the priest and active coverups to protect the priest, these documents can also be subpoenaed.
If the case progresses to trial, you and the other witnesses can testify as to what happened. Your lawyer can also present records and documents that will help prove the abuse you suffered. In many cases, this process is difficult on the victim, who must talk about their trauma. Because of this, our lawyers will work to protect you and settle the case if possible so that you do not need to testify and relive your trauma.
Unless you settle, the jury decides your case and determines the award you deserve. Your lawyer will present a calculation of the damages you seek, potentially including the cost of therapy and damages for mental anguish and emotional distress for your abuse. Our attorneys will work to ensure that these damages are suitable for your case, and we will fight to maximize the damages you receive. These damages are typically paid by the defendant, which could mean getting very high damages paid by the Church itself if its employees and priests were responsible for your abuse.
Time Limit for Filing Church Sexual Abuse Claims Under the NY Child Victims Act
Victims of sexual abuse that occurred when they were children can bring their claims up until their 55th birthday under the Child Victims Act. This law was passed in 2019 to help extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims, with special attention paid to victims of sexual abuse in the church. This extension gives victims a longer time limit to bring claims against their individual abusers as well as claims against the institutions, such as the churches, which allowed them to be abused.
In addition to the time limit extension, there is a single window of time where victims whose claims would be time-barred can still file their claim late. If you are older than 55 years old, it is vital to speak to a lawyer about your abuse claim immediately to see if you can still bring your claim.
In addition to the extension for civil lawsuits, the Child Victims Act also extended the deadline for criminal charges. Even with this longer criminal statute of limitations, the deadline to file criminal charges may have already expired on your case. If that deadline passed, you can still file a civil lawsuit against your abuser, since these statutes of limitations have different lengths. You can even choose to file a civil lawsuit instead of reporting your case to the police, or you can work with police to progress criminal charges against your abuser instead of suing them.
If your abuse claim does not meet the legal definition of any crimes of abuse or assault, you may still bring a civil claim. Not only is the burden of proof lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt” in civil cases, but the legal definitions of acts you can sue for are often more broad and include many degrees of abuse or sexual harm.
Call Our Queens Catholic Church Sex Abuse Lawyers for Help Filing Your Claim
The Queens attorneys for victims of church sexual abuse at Sullivan and Galleshaw offer free, confidential consultations to help victims file lawsuits for sexual abuse they suffered recently or sexual abuse that took place decades ago when they were children. For help with your case, call our law offices today at (718) 843-0300 to set up a free, confidential, no-obligation legal consultation with our attorneys.
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