Maryland Clergy Sex Abuse – Will Marylanders Be Able to Recover?
Sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and clergy members has been pervasive across the United States for decades, with evidence pointing to some of these acts dating as far back as the 1940s. Several states/commonwealths have investigated these crimes and changed laws to allow survivors to recover through the civil justice system.
Maryland Joins Pennsylvania Investigating the Church
The Pennsylvania Attorney General conducted an investigation concerning sex assaults by priests in the Catholic Church. It appears Cardinal William Keeler, an Archbishop of Baltimore, concealed instances of sexual abuse. Thus, the Attorney General of Maryland launched their own investigation.
In January 2019, after they issued a subpoena to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, they have received hundreds of thousands of documents from the last eighty years detailing allegations of sexual abuse and the Archdiocese’s response to the allegations. Nearly three and a half years later, in late 2022, the Attorney General of Maryland published a 463-page report on the investigation’s findings.
The Maryland catholic church sex abuse investigative report includes accounts of sexual abuse. It identifies 158 Catholic priests who sexually and physically abused people. One hundred and fifteen of these priests “were prosecuted for sex abuse and/or identified publicly by the archdiocese as having been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.” The other forty-three priests in this report were not identified publicly by the archdiocese.
Thousands of Marylanders May Be Able to Recover
While the initial investigation identified over 600 victims, whose ages ranged from preschool to young adulthood at the time of the abuse, the court expects that there are “certainly hundreds more, as the Department of Justice’s Annual Crime Victimization Report has demonstrated that most incidents of sexual assault go unreported.” The Attorney General report mentions that many survivors now struggle with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In some cases, they also battle alcohol or substance abuse due to the sexual and physical abuse they endured.
Many survivors of sexual and physical abuse find it incredibly difficult to speak up about the abuse they experienced. Sometimes, when a survivor is ready to speak up, they may be past the age of the statute of limitations. In 2017 Maryland lawmakers raised the age of the statute of limitations to the age of 38. This amendment meant that survivors of child sexual abuse would have until their 38th birthday to file a civil lawsuit.
Will Maryland Law Change to Allow Survivors to Recover from the Church?
Maryland expects to propose legislation sometime in 2023 that, if passed, would eliminate the statute of limitations in lawsuits involving child sexual abuse. The passing of this legislation would allow for more survivors to file lawsuits, even if they are older than the age of 38. Given, the average age for a child sexual abuse victim to come forward in the United States is 52, the passing of this legislation would provide many more survivors the opportunity to bring their perpetrators to justice and find a sense of closure.
KBA is Here to Help Maryland Church Sex Abuse Survivors
KBA’s attorneys have years of experience fighting sexual abuse cases and are here to help you pursue justice. If you were sexually abused, please contact KBA today to discuss confidentially.