Tag: Colorado Springs sexual abuse attorney

Colorado Bill Passed For Child Sexual Abuse Survivors

Colorado Law Removes Statute of Limitations On Lawsuits Filed By Child Sex Abuse Victims

Colorado sexual abuse survivors will finally get a long-awaited change in law to provide civil justice.

After 15 years of intense lobbying, Colorado joins a dozen other states that have eliminated the statute of limitations for some or all types of claims arising from childhood sexual abuse. On April 15, 2021, Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 73, which removes the restrictive statute of limitations placed on victims to file civil lawsuits against their perpetrators or institutions, including employers or youth programs, which are implicated in the misconduct.

Bill 73 goes into effect beginning on January 1, 2022, and survivors of childhood sex abuse and other types of sexual misconduct will be able to hold their perpetrators accountable in Colorado’s legal system, no matter how much time has elapsed since the abuse occurred.

“To all the survivors and advocates who worked tirelessly, I’m really proud to be here when this day has come. There’s no place for red tape between survivors and healing in Colorado,” said Polis during the signing ceremony.

Under current law, children who are abused have six years after they turn 18 to file a civil suit against their perpetrator and two years to sue an organization. This bill applies to a range of other offenses against children and adults, including sexual assault and trafficking.

“Victims deserve justice whenever they choose to seek it. Outdated laws won’t be able to stop them anymore,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, one of the bill’s sponsors. The other House of Representatives sponsor, Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta, called it a “historic bill.”

Many survivors go years before they are ready to report or talk about the abuse they encountered as children, and this new bill could give them justice and some peace of mind.  According to ChildUSA, the average age for a survivor who comes forward about their abuse is 52. Delayed disclosure can happen for a variety of reasons, including fear, shame, cultural norms, a relationship to the perpetrator and intellectual or communication challenges.

SB-73 also allows parents to bring lawsuits on behalf of their children, including against organizations or entities such as school districts or churches that turned a blind eye to abuse. SB73 applies only to future victims and those whose statute of limitations has not yet expired, with no “look-back window” which would have allowed people for whom the six-year statute of limitations had already expired to be granted a limited period of time in which they’d be able to sue their abusers.

Horowitz Law is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of child sexual abuse victims in Colorado. You can reach Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Child Sex Abuse Attorney Horowitz Law

New Colorado Bill Gives Child Sexual Abuse Survivors A Chance For Justice

Colorado sexual abuse survivors may finally get a long-awaited change in law which provide for civil justice. Under a new bill that the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) helped draft, survivors of child sexual abuse could sue individuals or institutions – for triple damages – if their abuse resulted from a cover-up, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.

This means that sexual abuse survivors would be able to file a claim against the institution, not the individual, without having any expiration date or statute of limitations, seeking three times the damages. Many survivors go years before they are ready to report or talk about the abuse they encountered as children, and this new bill could give them justice and some peace of mind.

Many times when reports of sexual abuse are made to schools or institutions the institutions decide, for whatever reason, to disregard the reports and ignore the problem. There are countless historical examples of this within the Catholic Church in Colorado as noted in recent grand jury reports.

“These organizations and their youth programs were trusted by families and parents to protect children, and instead they covered up child sex abuse. We have a fundamental obligation to hold them accountable to bring healing to these survivors, and also prevent this behavior from happening in the future,” says Danielson. Danielson is also introducing a bill that removes the statute of limitations for all sexual assault claims going forward.

Raana Simmons, Executive Director of CCASA, says the bill is narrowly tailored to target staff who knew, or should have known, about the abuse and did nothing to stop it. “When institutions choose to protect their power and profit by concealing the truth, the cover-up is something completely different and distinct from the sexual abuse that the child experienced in the first place. What this is, we believe, is a path forward to lift the veil of secrecy, to protect our communities, and to make sure that survivors have access to the single system that can provide them with the monetary relief to recover from trauma,” said Simmons.

Unlike other civil liability laws, the bill also prevents school districts from using government immunity to avoid damages.

Horowitz Law is experienced in filing lawsuits nationwide on behalf of child sexual abuse victims. You can reach Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Father E – Diocese of Colorado Springs

Father E

Diocese of Colorado Springs

Father E Diocese of Colorado Springs Horowitz Law

  • 981-1982: Holy Apostles (Colorado Springs, CO)
  • 1983-1984: Presentation of Our Lady (Denver, CO)
  • 1985:           Annunciation (Leadville, CO)
  • 1986:           St. Joseph’s (Leadville, CO)
  • 1987:           St. Patrick’s (Colorado Springs, CO)
  • 1988:           Unknown
  • 1989-1992: On Duty Outside of the Diocese
  • 1993-1994: St. Joseph’s (Colorado Springs, CO)
  • 1995-1996: Absent on Leave
  • 1997-2021: Unknown

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against “Father E:”

“Father E” was ordained a priest in 1980, and served in multiple parishes in the Archdiocese of Denver. According to media reports, in October 2019, the Colorado Attorney General released a detailed report of an investigation into the handling of child sexual abuse allegations by Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses.  In some cases, the Report does not identify priests accused of inappropriate conduct by name because the misconduct alleged did not rise to the level of “sexual abuse” as defined by an agreement between the AG’s office and the dioceses.

Among the allegations documented in the files of the Diocese of Colorado Springs was one against a priest identified only as “Father E.”  According to the Report, Father E was the subject of a report that he was engaging in ‘grooming’ behavior with a teenage girl in his parish (which is not identified).  According to the report, the behavior started in 1987 and continued for 8 years, but never escalated to physical sexual abuse.

When the report was received in 1994, the priest denied the allegations but was required to undergo counseling. His ministry continued unrestricted.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Colorado Springs.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Colorado Springs now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

Fr. William Martinez – Diocese of Colorado Springs

Father William Martinez

Diocese of Colorado Springs

William Martinez Diocese of Colorado Springs Horowitz Law

Laicized: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • Holy Apostles Parish (Colorado Springs, CO)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. William Martinez:

Fr. William Martinez served in the Archdiocese of Denver. According to media reports, in October 2019, the Colorado Attorney General released a detailed report of a special investigation into the handling of child sexual abuse allegations by Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses.  For the first time, Fr. William Martinez was publicly identified as a priest with multiple documented reports of sexual abuse.

According to the documents reviewed by the investigators, the Diocese of Colorado Springs became aware of rumors that Martinez engaged in ‘homosexual activity and inappropriate behavior with boys,’ but deemed them to be “unsubstantiated” because none of the alleged victims would come forward to make a report to the Diocese.  However, a parish employee at Annunciation parish in Leadville reported to the Diocese of Colorado Springs that he suspected Martinez was involved in a sexual relationship with an underaged boy.  When the employee did not provide the boy’s name, the Diocese determined that his report was nothing more than a rumor and took no action except to transfer Martinez to St. Patrick in Colorado Springs.  His supervising pastor was never told of the rumors or anything else relating to Martinez’s history.

The ‘rumors’ never died down.  In 1992, the Bishop of Colorado Springs called Martinez to the chancery and asked him if he ever engaged in sexual contact with an underage boy.  Martinez denied it to the Bishop and to the personnel board, but did admit that he shared a bed with boys occasionally.  He said it was a “culturally appropriate way” to soothe a scared child.  The Bishop took no action except to tell Martinez not to do that again.

The Diocese of Colorado Springs received a report of sexual abuse from Victim #1 in 1993.  According to the victim, he knew Martinez from the parish youth group at Holy Apostles parish in Colorado Springs.  The man said that Martinez invited him to come to the rectory to mediate, and used the setting to massage and then fondle him.  On subsequent occasions, Martinez plied him with alcohol and the abuse escalated to other types of sexual contact.  The victim says the incidents occurred over the course of a few months in 1980 and 1981 when he was 17 years old. Martinez admitted to the allegation and was placed on leave to undergo an inpatient psychological evaluation.

The victim sued the Diocese of Colorado Springs, and the matter was settled in late 1995.

A second man reported his sexual abuse directly to the Diocese of Colorado Springs sometime between 1986 and 1988.  According to the documents reviewed by the AG Investigators, the victim was served alcohol and forced to watch pornographic movies.  At the time, Martinez was assigned to Annunciation in Leadville.

Martinez was voluntarily laicized (removed from the priesthood) by the Vatican in 2006.  His current whereabouts are unknown, but he is believed to be living outside of Colorado.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Colorado Springs.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Colorado Springs now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

What Do You Need to Know About the Diocese of Colorado Springs’ IRRP and Claims Packet? 

 

Diocese of Colorado Springs

The three Catholic dioceses of Colorado, including the Diocese of Colorado Springs, have started a voluntary compensation for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.   

The program, sometimes called the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP) or something similar, is being administered by Washington D.C.-based attorney Ken Feinberg and his business manager, Camille Biros.  The two have administered similar diocesan settlement funds nationwide over the past two years. The Colorado fund is expected to launch in October 2019, according to our information. 

Our attorneys have handled hundreds of claims in similar funds nationally since the creation of the first such fund for victims in the Archdiocese of New York.  

In the thousands of hours that we have spent working on the claims, we have noticed that our clients, all of whom are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, often ask us similar questions about the independent compensation programs.  We have included some of those questions – and the answers – for you now. 

For more information on the Archdiocese of Denver’s program, click here.

For more information on the Diocese of Pueblo’s program, click here.

Question 1:  What is the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP)?

The Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP) is a program created by the three Colorado Catholic dioceses: the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Diocese of Colorado Springs, and Archdiocese of Denver.  It is funded by the dioceses and, in most cases, their insurance companies.  

It is a voluntary program that allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergymembers to participate in a simpler, more streamlined process of resolving their cases than traditional litigation (filing a lawsuit in court).  In often results in compensation being paid to survivors in a period of a few months.   

Question:  Who can file a claim in the Colorado IRRP? 

The program is open to anyone who was sexually abused by diocesan clergy (like a priest or a deacon) while the victim was under the age of 18.  The IRRP is not currently open to anyone sexually abused by members of a religious order or anyone who was a lay employee of the Diocese of Colorado Springs.  If you are not sure if the assailant was a diocesan priest or a member of a religious order (e.g., Jesuits, Franciscans, Salesians, any type of nun), we have various ways of obtaining that information. 

Even if your abuser was a member of a religious order, or if he/she was a lay employee of the diocese, like a teacher, we encourage you to call us today about your options.  In some cases, the programs have expanded into a new phase for those kinds of claims after the initial wave of cases are resolved.

Question:  I received the lengthy claims packet in the mail – what do I do now?  

If you have received a packet, we strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney before you attempt to submit the packet yourself.  The questions can seem daunting and confusing. An experienced attorney can mean the difference between a very small offer from the fund and a much bigger one.  People who file claims are not typically interviewed by the IRRP administrators so the claims packet is the one chance survivors have to tell their entire story from start to the present, and even the future, particularly if therapy or counseling will be needed in the future.    

Our attorneys have spent thousands of hours preparing compensation program claims packets for funds across the country.  We have a unique understanding of how to assemble supporting documents and present your case in a manner that gives the claims administrators the best and most complete information necessary to evaluate your claim.  

Question: What is a “claims packet?”

The claims packet is a 6 to 10 page form generated by Mr. Feinberg’s office.  The length – and the questions asked – vary by diocese. Typically the packet asks for some basic information about you and your background.  Of course, it also requests information about your sexual abuse experience and how it has affected you. It is these two areas that are the most important to the IRRP administrators, for various reasons – and that is exactly why you should consult with an attorney before you try to do anything on your own.  

Question: I didn’t get a claims packet in the mail but I think I am eligible for the IRRP.  What should I do?

The IRRP does have an open registration period during which anyone who thinks they are eligible to participate in the IRRP can request to do so.  During this very strict – and brief – registration period, the IRRP administrators will communicate with the Diocese of Colorado Springs to verify some preliminary information regarding the priest’s status with the Diocese and his assignment at the time of the abuse.  This is generally a routine review of basic facts that results in a claims packet being sent to our office.  

All claims must be registered with the IRRP before November 30, 2019, so it is critical that you contact us soon to discuss your options.  

Question:  I told another priest about my sexual abuse 25 years ago. I will get a claims packet from the IRRP eventually, right? 

The claims packets were sent to people that the dioceses each define as “people who made a prior report.”  This is a very particular term of art that is very strictly defined by the Diocese of Colorado Springs and its attorneys.  Not every report is a “report” under the rules that the Diocese and its partner dioceses wrote for the IRRP. For example, a verbal report to a parish pastor 20 years ago is not a “prior report” in the IRRP. 

In our experience, the lists of prior reports provided by each diocese are woefully incomplete.  Unless your claim was investigated by the Diocese’s internal review board, which typically takes several months and involves you giving a sworn, written statement, it is safe to assume that your name may not be on the list provided by the Diocese of Colorado Springs.

Therefore, even if you think you made a prior report of abuse, we urge you to contact us immediately to make sure that your claim is registered in a timely manner and that a claims packet is generated for you.  If you do not act before the registration deadline (once it has been set), you may lose your chance to participate in the settlement fund forever.  

Question: Will anyone find out that I filed an IRRP claim?  

The program is confidential in the sense that neither the fund administrators nor the dioceses will disclose any information publicly about those who participate in the program or their sexual abuse experiences.  The amounts paid to survivors are never made public, except as a total amount of settlements paid to the group as a whole.  

IRRP Claimants, on the other hand, are not required to maintain such confidentiality and can share their involvement with as many – or as few – people as they would like.      

Question: Should I contact the Diocese of Colorado Springs myself to get the IRRP process moving?  

Attorneys and advocates alike all strongly discourage survivors from contacting anyone at the Diocese of Colorado Springs themselves, particularly if they have not spoken with an experienced lawyer yet.  The Diocese has highly trained staff and experienced lawyers to defend itself. Even the nicest person working at the Diocese is still being paid by the Diocese and working for the benefit of the Diocese.  You should have just as much experience and tenacity working on your behalf too. 

If you elect to retain our law firm, we will handle all of the communications with the IRRP administrators, with the Diocese and its attorneys, and, to the extent it is required, with law enforcement.  You will not have to tell your story over and over again to strangers. Your contact will be almost exclusively with the attorney handling your case. This is a road that we know well and we know how to protect you and your interests.    

Question:  Is the IRRP a class action settlement fund?  

The IRRP is not a class action settlement fund – each claim will be evaluated individual and each claimant will receive an individual response from the administrators. E ach claim is on its own timetable to a certain extent.  Settlement amounts in these funds vary widely, depending on various factors like the severity of the sexual abuse and its effects on the survivors. That is why having an experienced attorney is critical – we know what information is going to be important to Mr. Feinberg and his team.   

Question: If I file an IRRP claims packet, does that mean I can never sue the Diocese?  

No.  You do not waive any legal options by merely filing a claim with the IRRP.  

In some cases, you may have options beyond filing a claim – you may be able to file a lawsuit in court against the Diocese.  For the overwhelming number of claimants, the statute of limitations has long expired and, as of today, the IRRP is the only option for them to get some sense of acknowledgement and accountability by the Diocese of Colorado Springs.  

However, laws are being enacted in many states that change the statute of limitations for lawsuits involving child sexual abuse.  In some cases, the laws have created “windows” during which anyone who was sexually abused can file a lawsuit – even if their statute of limitations has already passed.  It is unclear if Colorado lawmakers will take similar steps. Therefore, it is very important that you have an experienced attorney guide you through the process so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family if and when you receive an offer to settle from Mr. Feinberg.  

CONTACT US TODAY.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Colorado Springs and throughout Colorado.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Colorado Springs now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  There may also be a major change in the statute of limitations that will open a window for survivors to file lawsuits regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.  

Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.