Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer
If you or your loved one have been a victim of clergy sexual assault in Illinois, the Mahoney Law Firm is here to help. Ryan Mahoney, our experienced clergy sexual abuse lawyer, can guide you through the complicated process of filing a claim and going to court. Find out how our compassionate support and representation can help you get justice and compensation. Schedule a confidential consultation today and gain the closure you deserve.
Clergy sexual assault has devastated religious groups nationwide and in Illinois in particular. Believers trust priests and other religious leaders to offer spiritual guidance. But all too often, clergy have used their positions of authority and influence to prey on their congregants.
Reports of clergy members exploiting, harming, and sexually abusing children and others have become widespread. Meanwhile, many churches and religious institutions have often covered up these allegations, choosing to protect and enable the perpetrators while putting their congregations at further risk.
Recently. many investigations have exposed the Roman Catholic Church as a key perpetrator of abuse over the past few decades. According to a recent report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 3,946 survivors filed 4,250 allegations of clergy sexual abuse in 2020. These cases accused 2,771 clerics of sexual abuse.
If you’re a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, know that you’re not alone. The Mahoney Law Firm has helped victims in Illinois receive the support, guidance, and advocacy they need to navigate the legal process. When you pursue legal actions against an abuser, you can hold those individuals— and the organizations enabling them — accountable.
What is Clergy Sexual Abuse?
Clergy sexual abuse occurs when a priest or other person of authority or influence uses that position and power to sexually exploit or abuse a congregation member. Victims of clergy sexual abuse may experience various forms of harassment and assault, such as the following:
- Sexualizing conversations
- Touching without consent
- Creating a hostile environment
- Pressuring for sexual actions
- Using sexual language and jokes
- Invading personal space
Unfortunately, the true extent of clergy sexual assault is difficult to determine since many incidents go unreported. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement officials.
Clergy sexual abuse has affected many communities, religious organizations, and individuals for decades. While the Roman Catholic Church has been in the spotlight, sexual misconduct and abuse have been reported in all faiths and denominations across the U.S., including Southern Baptist and United Methodist churches.
What Percentage of Catholic Priests Have Been Accused of Sexual Abuse?
The John Jay Report, commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004, found that between 1950 and 2002, four percent of Catholic priests in the United States were accused of sexual abuse of minors.
Why You Need an Attorney for a Clergy Sexual Assault Case?
Clergy sexual abuse leaves survivors with physical and emotional wounds. Many people have suffered in silence, unable to confront those who assaulted them.
If you have been the victim of sexual assault in Illinois, you may want to consider pursuing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit to recover financial compensation for the harm you have suffered.
The Mahoney Law Firm understands the devastating impact that sexual assault has on victims. Our law firm is dedicated to providing compassionate and effective legal representation. With over 16 years of experience advocating for survivors of sexual assault, clergy sexual abuse attorney Ryan Mahoney has successfully held abusers accountable and obtained fair compensation for his clients.
We can assist with the following:
- Investigating the details of your case
- Gathering evidence to build a civil claim for damages
- Interviewing witnesses who may have relevant information
- Navigating any legal challenges
- Representing you at trial, if necessary
With our legal representation, you can feel confident that your rights are protected. Contact our Madison County, Illinois, law office to schedule your free consultation today.
Legal Options for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse
Clergy sexual abuse survivors have several legal options. The type of option you choose depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident.
Whether you need representation for a criminal, civil, or alternative dispute resolution in Illinois, the Mahoney Law Firm is ready to represent you. We will help you find the ideal option for your circumstances and stand by your side.
Local, state, or federal prosecutors can pursue criminal charges against the perpetrators of sexual abuse. They may also be able to pursue charges against those who aided, abetted, or covered up the perpetrators’ criminal acts.
Criminal proceedings determine whether a person is guilty or not guilty of a criminal offense. With a conviction, the judge or jury will impose penalties on the guilty party, including prison sentences, probation, and fines. By helping to secure a criminal conviction against your abuser, you may have a sense of justice as you prevent the perpetrator from continuing to harm others.
Civil litigation is the legal process of filing a lawsuit to resolve disputes between individuals, businesses, or organizations. In civil cases, plaintiffs seek compensation for the damages, such as physical or emotional injuries, that they have suffered from the defendants’ actions or negligence.
Sexual abuse survivors often pursue cases through civil courts, where they can recover damages for physical, emotional, and financial harm.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, is another option to consider. With this legal option, you will work with a qualified, neutral third-party mediator in civil court.
By listening to all sides of the case, the mediator helps the victim and the perpetrator reach a settlement or resolution outside of court.
What are Clergy Abuse Settlements, and How Much are They Worth?
Clergy abuse settlements refer to the legal agreements reached between victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy and the institutions or organizations that allegedly allowed the abuse to happen.
These settlements typically involve monetary compensation paid to the victims in exchange for dropping or settling legal claims against the institution or organization.
In lieu of settlements, some abuse survivors have taken their cases to trial and obtained verdicts against their abusers and others responsible for their harm.
According to one advocacy group tracking sex abuse settlements and monetary awards against U.S. Catholic clergy, the national average settlement and verdict amount for victims is $268,466.
Clergy Sexual Abuse Case Challenges
Taking clergy sexual abuse claims to court is challenging, as survivors must face some of the most prominent religious organizations in the world.
Power dynamics, finding sufficient evidence, and overcoming emotional burdens are all challenges that a legal team can help you overcome. The Mahoney Law Firm is experienced in ensuring victims receive the support and guidance they need to get justice.
The power dynamics inherent in clergy abuse cases make it difficult for victims to speak out. Even if victims aren’t minors when sexual abuse occurs, there is little place for uncoerced consent when the perpetrator is in a position of authority.
Power dynamics in a sexually abusive relationship refer to how one person exerts power and control over a victim. With an imbalance of power, the perpetrator often dominates and controls another person. When a person in power abuses their authority, the victim may feel compelled to comply with their requests.
Victims may not want to come forward as they fear retaliation or think no one will believe them.
Lack of Evidence
Unlike other types of abuse, sexual abuse rarely has witnesses, physical evidence, or documentation. This makes it difficult to prove the perpetrator’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Litigating cases of clergy sexual abuse also takes a significant emotional toll on the victim, who must repeatedly relive their trauma throughout the legal process.
What Should You do if a Clergy Member has Abused you?
If a priest or other religious figure has abused you, take these steps to seek justice and aid your healing process.
- Report the abuse to the appropriate authorities, such as law enforcement, child protective services, or the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible to receive appropriate treatment and document any physical injuries or issues related to the abuse.
- Seek representation from a lawyer specializing in clergy sexual abuse claims.
Mahoney Law Firm Helps Survivors Seek Justice and Compensation
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual abuse by church clergy in Illinois, seek legal representation as soon as possible. Doing so allows you to exercise your rights, seek justice, and hold your abuser accountable.
The experienced attorneys at The Mahoney Law Firm can help you understand your legal options and pursue justice and compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more. Don’t suffer in silence — let us support you in fighting for your rights.