Roman Catholic priests keep making headlines, for all the wrong reasons. In 2003, Thomas O’Brien, who was bishop of the Dioceses of Phoenix at the time, admitted he had sheltered dozens of priests who had been accused of sexual abuse. Beyond just sheltering them, however, he allowed them to work with children. In 2016, O’Brien himself was accused of sexually abusing a young boy.
In the early 2000s, the Roman Catholic diocese exposed a handful of priests as abusers, two of whom fled the country and are still at large. Another 60-or-so lawsuits are currently pending against priests across the nation, some of the alleged sex crimes dating back seven decades. The most recent involves Louisiana Rev. F. David Broussard, a 51-year-old former pastor who was charged with 500 counts of possession of child pornography. Broussard remains free, on administrative leave.
Mark A. Broussard, a former priest who is not related to F. David Broussard but presided over a neighboring Louisiana parish, was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences and 50 additional years for molesting and raping altar boys in the 1980s. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse.
Is Justice Being Served?
Today’s Catholic Church is responding much differently to sex abuse scandals than the Catholic Church of the past. During the first half of the 20th century, priests accused of sexual abuse were often simply reassigned to different parishes. Today, the likes of Mark and F. David Broussard are turned over by Bishops who say they now follow the Catholic Church’s mandates to protect children, including requiring criminal background checks for anyone who has contact with children.
Although progress is definitely being made, you don’t have to go back to the early 1900s to see the Catholic Church turning a blind eye to sex abuse. In 1986, former priest Gilbert Gauthe was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he admitted to raping 37 children, also in Louisiana. But despite having abused more than 100 people, Gauche was released after only 10 years.
And in 2002, during the Boston archdiocese child sex abuse scandal, decades of covered-up child abuse in Wilmington, Delaware began to surface. By 2011, more than $110 million was distributed to 152 adults who had been sexually abused as children by Catholic priests in the Wilmington area. Dozens of priests were involved. A MA injury attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been sexually assaulted or abused.
Statute of Limitations
Most civil and criminal cases have a statute of limitations, a window of time within which a claim or lawsuit must be filed. With regard to sexual abuse cases, the statue of limitations varies from state to state. In MA, it’s 15 years. However, in light of the recent surge of sex abuse scandals involving Catholic priests, private schools, and even celebrities, some of these statutes of limitations are being lifted. In Minnesota, for example, a 2013 law temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for victims age 24 and under, giving them unlimited time to file a lawsuit. Anyone over 24 was given a new, three-year window. When that window ended in 2016, more than 800 claims had been filed against state churches and schools, and the Boy Scouts.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Personal Injury Law Firm
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. Our compassionate, experienced lawyers will ensure that you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward, and we will be with you every step of the way. You don’t need to suffer in silence anymore. Justice can be served. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.