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KBA is Here to Help Survivors of Sex Assault in Addition to Catholics

  • April 12, 2023
  • kbaattorneystg
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For well over a decade, survivors of sexual assault have sued the Catholic Church. As states change their laws to allow people to bring lawsuits many years later, these cases persist. While the attorneys at KBA are here to help survivors of Catholic clergy sex assaults, we are equally able to help other survivors as well.

Church Abuse of Power Encompasses More Denominations Than Catholicism

Alleged physical and sexual abuse within parishes of the Catholic Church has been known to be a long-running epidemic. With reported incidents dating back centuries, and incalculable trauma afflicting thousands of young children, the damage cannot be overstated. All too often, predatory priests, bishops, cardinals, and clergymen abuse their position of power to flagrantly abuse and get away with abuse.

One decades-long study by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, estimates that 4-5% of Catholic priests and deacons in the U.S. had credible abuse allegations against them. This study was from 1950 to 2002; more’s come to light in the two decades since then, and that 4-5% figure only encompassed reported incidents of child sexual abuse (CSA) in America’s Catholic parishes.

By now, most Americans are aware of the scope, scale, and severity of this clergy abuse epidemic. According to one Pew Research survey conducted a few years ago:

  • Approximately 92% of U.S. adults have heard about reports of sexual misconduct amongst Catholic priests, bishops, and clergy members.
  • Nearly 80% of U.S. adults believe that reports of abuse in the Catholic Church reflect ongoing problems which still haven’t been fully resolved.
  • Close to half of all U.S. Catholics (46%) report discussing reports of clergy abuse with their friends, family, or acquaintances.
  • About one-in-four practicing Catholics who regularly attend weekly mass believe that clergy abuse remains an ongoing problem.
  • Roughly 57% of U.S. adults think that CSA is “equally common” amongst religious leaders and other adults who work predominantly with children.
  • Practicing Catholics are more likely than non-Catholics to believe that religious abuse reports reflect issues of the past, though a large majority of Catholic adults in the United States (69%) still view it as an ongoing problem.
  • Nearly half of all U.S. adults (48%) believe that this abuse is more common in Catholicism than other religious denominations, whereas close to another half (47%) perceives it being “equally as common.”

Sexual Abuse Extends beyond Catholics

However, religious abuse encompasses a wide swath of Christian denominations and other religious orders, not just the Catholic Church, nor solely just Christianity. For example, the last few decades have seen:

  • An increase in abuse allegations against the Lutheran Church, prompting tens of millions of dollars in clergy abuse settlements from 2004 onward. (NBC)
  • Sexual abuse allegations against ultra-Orthodox religious leaders in Brooklyn. (VICE)
  • The Mormon LDS church being hit with hundreds of CSA allegations. Most recently, the Church of Latter-Day Saints reached a $1.1 million settlement with a survivor in Washington, with more lawsuits expected to follow suit. (Spokesman)
  • A bombshell 288-page independent report exposing hundreds of sex abuse cases within the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2022, this report prompted a subsequent federal investigation, which is still ongoing. (NPR)
  • Survivors go public about the years-long abuse they suffered from a predatory volunteer at a Tampa Bay mosque. (WTSP)
  • Inquiries into the United Kingdom’s Anglican Church, including a sweeping independent 2020 report. (IICSA)

The point is that religious abuse does not discriminate by religious denomination, nor does it discriminate by religious venue. In any institution where people are afforded positions of power, bad actors could be capable of abusing that position.

The Catholic Church might be one of the most well-known religious institutions where this happens. Unfortunately, cultures of abuse, complicitly, and chilling silence aren’t just exclusive to one institution: they can exist in multiple.

Survivors Have Accused Jewish Rabbis of Sexual Abuse 

The Jewish faith has seen its share of accusations as well. Rabbi Baruch Lanner stood trial in 2002 “allegations of sexual misconduct involving two female students at Hillel Yeshiva in Ocean Township.” Survivors later alleged the N.J. rabbi committed ‘horrific acts’ of child sex abuse while Jewish organizations did nothing. Author Danya Ruttenberg reported last year that we are “in the middle of yet another reckoning with abuse in the Jewish community.” Reports of abuse by a DC rabbi brought about, ‘”a Spiritual Earthquake’”. 

This zeitgeist is not limited to Catholics or Jews. Islam presents a similar trend in American. See, e.g., ‘A long time coming’: These Muslims are bringing sex abuse by sheikhs out of the shadows (religionnews.com)

Abuse extends beyond religious groups

It’s difficult to quantify the last figure, either way, as it’s not uncommon for sexual abuse  survivors to be reluctant to report their abuse. Nevertheless, spiritual abuse doesn’t have a monopoly in any single religious denomination, Catholicism or otherwise.

Adult predators abusing their position of power to maliciously target children, also don’t exclusively operate in religious settings. Incidents of abuse and misconduct are far too common in youth settings in general. Abusers are capable of abusing their power in a wide range of environments, including schools, camps, group homes, in healthcare settings, and within social organizations, for example. Let’s explore how these cases vary in different settings.

Consider KBA Attorneys for Your Sex Abuse Survivor Claims

At KBA Attorneys, we have decades of combined professional experience in navigating these claims. If you or a loved one is a survivor, you might be eligible to file a legal claim. To learn more about our team and how we might be able to help you, contact our office by clicking here.