Long Island New York Child Abuse & Molestation Lawyers
The Catholic Church has a long and unfortunate history of sexually abusing children. They also have a regrettable practice of discouraging churchgoers from reporting incidents to the police and moving offending priests from parish to parish as opposed to turning them into the authorities. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault, the law firm of Rappaport, Glass, Levine and Zullo, LLP can help you secure compensation for this reprehensible crime. We represent the legal rights of victims of child abuse and molestation and their rights to compensation for pain, suffering and other emotional scars. Call for a free legal consultation today
Child molestation is one of the most horrid and insidious crimes imaginable. It is a crime so low that even other hardened criminals view it with disgust. The physical abuse is bad enough, but the emotional damage from child abuse can last for years, often well into adulthood.
The sense of outrage felt by the families of the victims and the public increases exponentially when the perpetrators of such horrid crimes are teachers, coaches, priests or other authority figures that we entrust with positively influencing our children. This is an obscene violation of trust, made even worse by the fact that with this type of abuse, the victim is often afraid to report it, so it happens over and over again. For victims of abuse by teachers or coaches, allegations are generally taken seriously and acted upon immediately. But the Catholic Church is notorious for stonewalling, ignoring complaints, and doing everything it can to protect the accused priest rather than the victim.
The Catholic Church and Molestation: A Shameful Past
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, they teach specifically that the sexual abuse of children is a grave moral offense:
"...any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it, all their lives; and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing." (CCC 2389).
So while on the surface the Church is in agreement with the law of the land, the actions taken by the Church when discovering abusers in their ranks is insufficient and inconsistent with their own doctrine.
In December of 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of the Boston Diocese, resigned over his role in one of the deepest scandals in church history. It became known that priests who had been accused of sexual misconduct were routinely placed in therapy, and then transferred to different parishes when the Bishop had been advised that the abuser was fit to return to “duty.” This did nothing but compound the problem. The cause of child molestation is a deep-seated sexual psychosis. According to one study, the recidivism rate of those offenders who have never married and select extra familial boy victims is 77%. Recidivism is the continued, habitual or compulsive commission of law violations after first having been convicted or prior offenses.
Offering a few sessions with a therapist and moving the offending priest to another location where he can start all over again was hardly a solution. One of the worst examples of this practice was Father John Geoghan. In a thirty-year career, this Priest was transferred to six different parishes and was accused of molesting over 160 children.
Perhaps even more stunning than this shuffling cycle of possible molesters from town to town is the fact that from May, 2001 up until April, 2005, any accusations of molestation brought to the church from its own members were sealed under Pontifical Secret. This means that any inquiries and investigations were to be handled internally, and that legal authorities were not to be involved. Only after the Church faced an obstruction of justice lawsuit in Houston, Texas did it change this policy to include cooperation with legal authorities.
Also included in this wall of silence and unaccountability are allegations of church officials actively discouraging victims from pursuing further action or ignoring reports of abuse. Quite often they will take cynical advantage of the accusers faith and love for the Catholic Church. Tactics range from claiming that the Priest in question would never do such a thing to promises to “look into the matter” and then doing nothing.
Victims are understandably hesitant to bring legal action against the Church. Quite often they would accept an apology and the removal of the offending priest. But the sad truth is that this rarely happens. The Church goes to great lengths to avoid any sort of culpability for the priest in question or the institution as a whole. Filing a lawsuit is often the only way that a victim can get the Church to accept any sort of accountability.
If a priest has sexually abused you or any of your loved ones, and any attempts to redress this wrong have been ignored or delayed, YOU HAVE LEGAL OPTIONS. We can help. At Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo, LLP, our main concern is getting the victim the settlement that they deserve, and in doing so we’ll help to make the Church accountable for the actions of its representatives and their leaders.