Tag: sex abuse attorney

Child Sexual Assault in the Church Horowitz Law

One Step Forward, One Step Back In the Battle to Stop Child Sexual Assault in the Church

One step forward, one step back, that’s how it sometimes feels in the battle to stop child sexual assault in the church. Unfortunately, Horowitz Law has witnessed that steps forward are often taken by those OUTSIDE church hierarchies (victims, police, prosecutors, lawmakers, attorneys, whistleblowers). The steps backward are often taken by those INSIDE church hierarchies. Such was the case last week in New England. We read encouraging stories about a positive ruling by the top court in Massachusetts. We also read discouraging stories about an accused Maine priest being supposedly ‘cleared’ by his Catholic supervisors.

Backward Steps in the Battle to Stop Child Sexual Assault in the Church

In July 2021, the Portland, Maine Diocese put Fr. Robert C. Vaillancourt on leave when he was accused of sexually abusing a girl in the 1980s. In 2021, a second alleged victim came forward. Last month, Maine Bishop Robert Dailey, through spokespeople and lawyers, claimed the abuse reports against Fr. Vaillancourt were “unfounded,” and the priest was immediately put back on the job.

But let’s keep in mind a few facts that suggest that Dailey could be wrong.

Fr. Vaillancourt faces two accusers. The odds of a mistaken or false allegation go down dramatically when a second person makes another abuse report. The alleged victims are female. Statistics show that more often, it’s women (more than men) whose reports of sexual violence are disbelieved. One of the victims is represented by an attorney, which increases the chance of her credibility. The other did a credible interview with a local television station.

In the late 1980s, Fr. Vaillancourt was involved in Diocesan Youth Ministry. He was also in charge of youth ministry at St. Andre’s in Biddeford. It is common for child predators to gravitate towards jobs that put them around children. The same goes for priests that work as the diocesan director of the Office of Vocations and the youth ministry at different times. Of course, most men in these posts are not predators., but history, psychology, and common sense all tell us that many predators gravitate to these kinds of jobs because they provide access to kids.

In 2002, Fr. Vaillancourt led the Maine delegation to World Youth Day in Toronto. On that trip, 350 young people and their chaperones went to see the Pope. He may have been given this assignment, as opposed to seeking it out, but again, this is a troubling sign. It is common for men who are sexually attracted to youngsters to take them on out-of-town trips. Fr. Vaillancourt also worked as a chaplain at two Portland hospitals. We acknowledge that the vast majority of clerics who are chaplains are not abusers. But it’s also true that bishops often transferred proven and admitted, credibly-accused child molesting clerics from parish ministry to hospital ministry.

If other abuse reports surfaced later, a bishop could claim that he was unsure if the priest had molested and transferred the priest to a position with closer supervision. If parents were upset about abuse allegations, a bishop could say that they couldn’t substantiate the charges, but out of an abundance of caution, they took him out of his parish. People make mistakes, of course, and memories are not perfect. There have been false allegations of clergy sexual abuse, although very few. Most often, they are unintentional, caused by similarities in priests’ names, nicknames, or physical appearances. So, Fr. Vaillancourt could be innocent. He could also not be.

We at Horowitz Law would not be surprised if Catholic officials erred in the direction of saving a cleric instead of a child. We won’t be shocked if others come forward with knowledge or suspicions of wrongdoing by Fr. Vaillancourt.

Steps Moving Forward in the Battle to Stop Child Sexual Assault in the Church

The top judicial body in Massachusetts, AKA, the Superior Court, just ruled that a child sex abuse and cover-up case against a retired bishop can proceed. Lawyers for the Springfield, MA diocese argued that the case should be tossed because of a law called ‘charitable immunity.’ A lower court judge had ruled that charitable immunity “does not protect” the diocese from the lawsuit related to sexual assaults by Bishop Christopher Weldon and other priests “as these allegations do not involve conduct related to a charitable mission.” 

This is actually the second legal victory for Weldon’s alleged victim. Earlier, a judge said no when lawyers for the diocese wanted to delay the case, saying the plaintiff “has a right to expeditious resolution of his case.”

We at Horowitz Law often point out that lawmakers across the US and worldwide are increasingly becoming more sensitive to the needs of abuse victims. They’re passing laws that give survivors of childhood trauma more time to gain strength and report those who have hurt them.

But judges are also becoming more sensitive to the needs of survivors. After all, judges are human too. They have read and seen the articles, news shows, documentaries, and testimonies before legislative panels that the rest of us have seen. It’s tough for anyone in any position to learn about this widespread, devastating, and ongoing pain to children and not be moved. And when there are gray areas in the law, judges are more often siding with survivors and their advocates whenever possible. This is just speculation, but we strongly suspect that five or ten and certainly 20 years ago, a judge might have ruled differently in this Massachusetts case. 

All of us at Horowitz Law are optimistic about the future and even the present. We recognize that much work needs to be done to protect children, heal victims, and prevent cover-ups. But instead of standing totally on the sidelines or taking the side of predators and enablers, judges and other government officials are coming around to see our point of view and making it more possible and less risky for victims to seek remedies in court. Our society will only benefit from this trend.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a member of a religious organization, contact us today at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.

 

Pope Francis' Apology Tour Horowitz Law

Judging a Papal Apology – Actions Do Speak Louder Than Words

When judging a Papal apology, sincerity and follow-up are key. Pope Francis has gotten wall-to-wall news coverage with what’s been called his ‘apology tour‘ in Canada. Francis stated, “I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous Peoples.” But apologies come in all shapes and sizes, and many people have been chiming in that he failed to offer a concrete way forward and next steps. Here are our two cents on what makes a good apology versus a bad one and what an apology tells us about the individual or institution that makes one.

Our first question is, “why is the pontiff expressing sorrow?” Could it be because of the church’s role in the “notorious” residential schools, which were designed to erase Indigenous culture and language by forcibly separating roughly 150,000 children from their families, where thousands of Indigenous children died, and countless others were sexually and physically abused?

Let that last part sink in: “where thousands of Indigenous children died, and countless others were sexually and physically abused.” According to a NY Times article, about a year ago, at the site of just one school, an analysis of ground-penetrating radar scans found evidence consistent with the testimony of former students that hundreds of students were buried in unmarked graves on school grounds.

So it’s pretty clear that Francis has plenty to apologize for. 

Here are five questions to ask when evaluating any apology:

Not surprisingly, Pope Francis, like bishops worldwide, especially in the US, has earned a failing grade this week.

      1. Is the apology clear? Francis, like his underlings, deliberately uses vague language, going so far as to not even mention the word “abuse.” “Roddy Gould Jr., chief of Abegweit First Nation in Scotchfort, said Pope Francis’s words were too vague and seemed unconnected to the hurt and trauma caused by the residential school system,” reported the Canadian Broadcast CompanyAnother Indigenous survivor of these horrific abuses said, “You can’t dance around the, you know, bypass the truth and go right to reconciliation . . .” These actions are, of course, consistent with the apologies of many Catholic officials, high and low. All too often, they get all hazy and refuse to use common terms used by the public, instead tossing around opaque church phrases that ‘soften the blow’ that plain, clear words would cause. One of the most memorable examples of this comes from the now-retired cardinal who headed the New York Archdiocese for ages, Edward Egan. Egan stated, “If in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”
      2. Is the apology prompt? Again, the Pope fails on this score too. For decades, church and governmental authorities have known of this widespread, preventable, and egregious wrongdoing. In fact, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada first sought an apology from Pope Benedict XVI during a Vatican meeting 13 years ago. It’s hard to get excited about an apology or consider it sincere when it comes after years and years of begging.
      3. Is the apology forced or voluntary? In a technical sense, since Francis is the undisputed head of a global monarchy, no one can force him to do anything. However, the truth is that sometimes even monarchs feel compelled to respond to public pressure, media firestorms, and widespread discontent by their subjects. Sadly, however, in clergy sex abuse and cover-up cases, the level of shock, shame, and damage that must be done and exposed to prod Catholic officials to finally act is shocking.
      4. Does action follow it? If the past is any indication, we at Horowitz Law would be shocked if Pope Francis, in the days, weeks, and months to come, lays out a concrete plan to provide real help for vulnerable kids or wounded adults. Years ago, Canadian church officials promised to pay victims $25 million in restitution. To date, they have paid just 1.2 million Canadian dollars. Gould said, “The Catholic Church has accommodated and changed things in its church service to accommodate and keep its clientele. And that’s what I saw. I saw the largest political organization in the world make a vague, very articulated statement, not out of accountability, but to appease its base.”
      5. Does the apology come before or after wrongdoing is exposed? We’ve all heard apologies of both types: those offered AFTER someone else, not the wrongdoer, has revealed the bad behavior, and those offered BEFORE or WHILE the bad behavior is disclosed. We’d likely all agree that the ‘BEFORE’ and ‘WHILE’ apologies are always more genuine and, therefore, more healing. Suppose you’ve followed the church’s ongoing, decades-old, still-flourishing clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis. In that case, you know that it’s exceptionally rare for a bishop or a Vatican bureaucrat to share news of a scandal and apologize for it BEFORE it hits the media.

In summary, we at Horowitz Law understand – and are glad – that some feel good about what Francis said in Canada this week. Those who suffer should, of course, get some comfort and consolation. But his words could and should have come sooner, been more explicit, and led to significant tangible help, not temporary emotional solace.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

 

Disturbing Trends Found in the Catholic Church

Red Flags and Disturbing Trends Found in the Catholic Church

Last year, an article about a small, obscure Catholic monastery overseas was released that disclosed numerous red flags and disturbing trends found in the Catholic church that are still happening. Although a year old, we would like to draw attention to it now for two reasons.

The first reason is that this article contains a shockingly thorough list of ‘red flags’ and disturbing trends found in the Catholic church. It highlights descriptions of very troubling behaviors that could almost serve as a ‘checklist’ for those who wonder, “Is what my boss/pastor/counselor doing appropriate?”

This article is also an example of a troubling trend in some religions, the growth of ‘independent’ churches headed by charismatic individuals that operate with fewer constraints and thus are even more likely to attract and coddle child molesters.

Regarding the ‘red flags,’ according to this article, a young man who wanted to become a priest felt manipulated, anxious, depressed, and harassed while “locked” in this weird emotional thing with his alleged abuser.

Allegedly he wasn’t allowed to go to the doctor, was urged to take psychiatric medication (by his boss), ‘broke down weeping,’ and ‘has been ostracized. He also reportedly saw ‘inappropriate guests’ at the monastery where both men lived, as well as financial mismanagement and inappropriate personal disclosures. His boss reportedly was highly flattering, personally charismatic, and dynamic. He was good at inspiring trust and frequently gossiped to (others) spiritual direction. He seemed to act possessive toward the alleged victim.

Let’s be clear. If you saw a person, especially a boss, exhibit one or two of these behaviors, you’d rightfully think, “That’s odd” or “That’s creepy,” even though laws were not technically broken.

But imagine that your supervisor did all – or even most – of these things. One act, however awkward or uncomfortable it may make you, could be chalked up to an anomaly. But repeatedly disturbing actions by a boss should immediately prompt an investigation and maybe some kind of disciplinary moves. This article showcases even more ‘red flags’ than we’ve listed here. There should really be a pocket-sized checklist that could be laminated and provided to every employee of youth-serving institutions.

More Disturbing Trends Found in the Catholic Church

The second point of this article is that the growth of new, ‘independent’ churches and religious groups that are NOT part of larger, established, mainstream religious bodies is troubling. A Catholic journalist summarizes the entire sordid story laid up above “is a lesson about what can happen when a charismatic founder is imbued with spiritual authority but with little supervision or oversight.” 

The proliferation of small, purportedly, and partially independent religious institutes or religious orders often headed by a charismatic official translates into even less ‘supervision or oversight’ than one typically finds in a diocese or conventional denomination. Who benefits from this lessened oversight? And who might be drawn to become part of one of these smaller, newer, less conventional, and more ego-dominated religious groups? Men who want to abuse power. 

The good news here is that in the legal realm, despite their reduced supervision and their claims to be independent, many times, these entities can still be held responsible for child sex crimes committed by their members or officials.

So if you’ve seen, suspected, or suffered abuse in one of these religious institutes or orders, do NOT assume you are without legal options. You owe it to yourself and others to report these crimes and check with an experienced attorney who can best explain what remedies you may have.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a member of a religious organization, contact us today at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.

 

Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Horowitz Law

The Statute of Limitations For Sexual Abuse Reform Movement Marches On!

It’s official. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has signed House Bill 492, removing the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims. It’s now the law of the land in Louisiana.

This means that those who were sexually victimized as children in that state – at any time, by anyone, can take an important step to help the wounded heal and help the vulnerable be safer, as they can now file a civil lawsuit. As defendants, they can also name both wrongdoers who perpetrate the abuse AND wrongdoers who enabled it; those who commit AND or concealed these awful crimes.

But that’s only part of the good news regarding archaic, arbitrary, and predator-friendly statute of limitations these days. More and more, our society and courts are expanding victims’ rights to expose predators and win compensation. Read on!

New York City has just enacted a civil window for those sexually abused or assaulted AS ADULTS! Those abused as adults also have expanded opportunities for justice in New Jersey.

Last year, Maine and the North Mariana Islands (a US territory in the western Pacific) became the latest jurisdictions to adopt a permanent revival statute of limitations for child sex crimes. (Vermont did as well in 2019.) Perhaps the first time, federal legislation has been introduced, giving states greater incentive to update and expand their child sex abuse laws. (Specifically, the measure would make states eligible for additional funding if they have ended the statute of limitations in sexual abuse for both civil and criminal cases.)

At the same time, fewer and fewer jurisdictions are upholding or honoring long-standing roadblocks that stand between survivors and justice. Only three states (Utah, Wisconsin, and Missouri) make it harder for abuse survivors to sue because they let churches hide behind the First Amendment (claiming that any abuse lawsuit inevitably interferes with their ‘freedom of religion’). TAKE NOTE: This doesn’t mean you have no hope for justice if you were victimized in these three states. It just means that your legal road is more challenging.

Only eight states still have some form of “charitable immunity,” another obstacle that makes legal action more difficult (though not impossible) for survivors. The Louisiana law merits some explanation. “Over the past year, the Catholic Church has repeatedly argued in Louisiana courts that some of the claims being brought under the lookback window are not valid,” according to one news outlet. Church officials argue that “the window only applies to abuse that has happened since 1993 because the language of the law references an older statute regarding child abuse that wasn’t enacted until 1993.” 

In other words, despite clear legislative intent to help survivors that were shut out of the legal process, the church hierarchy seized on a minor legal technicality to try and evade their duty to help survivors. Several Louisiana judges have ruled in different ways on this argument. That necessitated a second legislative vote that clarified the window. So, in the end, justice prevailed. But only after yet another fight initiated by Catholic bishops.

But now is the time to focus on – and circulate – the good news. Though it’s long overdue, policy-makers across the US are slowly showing greater sensitivity to the suffering and less deference to the powerful, at least in child sex abuse that happens in large institutions. So please spread the word: Though it’s almost always hard for survivors to speak up and seek justice, lawmakers and judges continue to make the journey forward less intimidating and difficult for those who do manage to reach out for help and take action.

We have reached a tipping point in society where sexual assault and abuse victims have become empowered in record numbers to share their stories, speak out, and hold perpetrators and others responsible for acts of sexual misconduct.  We have seen this trend emerge in many industries and institutions.  From the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts, Hollywood moguls, celebrities, and powerful politicians, we have witnessed sexual misconduct exposed amid the collective strength of victims who refused to be silenced. Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual assault lawsuits on behalf of clients who have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery. Please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz for massage clients at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Church Officials Disbelieve Horowitz Law

Just Because Church Officials Disbelieve Victims of Sex Abuse, Doesn’t Mean We Will

We at Horowitz Law care about all survivors. But we feel especially sympathetic toward – and worried about – survivors who summoned the strength to come forward but were rebuffed by the very church officials who encouraged them to come forward to report their abuse.

It must be terribly upsetting: to do the hard, responsible, moral thing by reporting a heinous crime only to be told by church officials, “Sorry, we’re not going to do anything. There’s no evidence.” But guess what? Not believing you is abuse as well. They are committing the sin of silence. Just because church officials disbelieve victims, doesn’t mean we will.  When it comes to kids’ safety, we prefer to be on the side of caution.

And if you summoned the strength to report your abuse to church officials, only to be told that your report is “unsubstantiated” or “without merit” or “not credible,” our hearts ache for you, and we’d love to try and help you. We thank you for taking courageous action, even if the outcome was hurtful! Again, just because church officials disbelieve victims, doesn’t mean we will.

We’ve compiled an incomplete list of priests who have been accused of abuse, sometimes suspended, but then put back on the job (or exonerated) by a bishop or church body. It is, of course, possible that some of these clerics are wrongly accused. But it’s also possible, even more likely, that some of these alleged predators are in fact predators. Still, their church colleagues or superiors have opted to believe their denials rather than their accusers’ reports.

CALIFORNIA

  • Fr. Francis Arakal of Stockton
  • Fr. J. Patrick Foley of Sacramento
  • Fr. James Michael Ford of Los Angeles
  • Fr. Michael Eugene Kelly of Stockton
  • Fr. Editho Mascardo of Stockton
  • Fr. John H. Wadeson of Los Angeles
  • Fr. Christopher Berbena of Los Angeles

NEW JERSEY

  • Fr. Gabriel Zeis of Trenton
  • Fr. Kevin A. Gugliotta of Newark

VERMONT

  • Fr. John Milanese of Burlington

COLORADO

  • Fr. Melvin F. Thompson of Denver
  • Fr. Joseph A. Reade of Pueblo

MAINE

  • Fr. Antonin R. Caron of Portland

LOUISIANA

  • Fr. Luis E. Henao of New Orleans

So if you know current or former Catholics, especially in California, New Jersey, Vermont, Colorado, or Maine, we hope you’ll circulate this list. If there are others who may have seen, suspected, or suffered sexual abuse, misconduct, or harassment by one of these priests, we’d love to hear from them.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing survivors of sexual abuse who were victims of sexual abuse by a priest, minister, rabbi, deacon, nuns, or other clergies. We have handled multiple cases of sexual abuse by clergy. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Horowitz Law

What Does Sexual Abuse Awareness Month Really Mean To You?

Nowadays, every day and month has been declared something. National Dog Day, National Teachers Day, Black History Month, the list goes on. April has been declared Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But what does that mean exactly? And what does that mean to you? Maybe you know someone that was abused. Maybe you were abused? Maybe you just think it means nothing. We are here to tell you that it means everything.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) was created to bring awareness about what is really going on in our world, communities, neighborhoods, and on our streets, so we can do our best to end sexual violence. However, it is impossible to prevent an issue that nobody knows about. It is also difficult to make people aware of a problem without providing a solution. That is why SAAM was formed. 

This April, the SAAM 2022 campaign continues to build on this vision with a call to action: “Building Safe Online Spaces Together.” This initiative was set in hopes that we can make a difference to build inclusive, safe, and respectful online spaces. Free from bullying, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, assault, and sexual abuse.

The more people know about sexual abuse happening around them, the more we can do collectively. This type of movement actually stemmed from the 1940s and 50s with the civil rights era. Activists began to challenge the status quo in demand of equal rights. The movements have merged over the years, and more and more social activism has come to light. The first rape crisis center was founded in San Francisco in 1971. In the decades following, rallied survivors and advocates called upon legislation for funding to support survivors, such as the Violence Against Women Act of 1993 (VAWA). These monumental changes demonstrated that national efforts promoting sexual violence prevention were needed. 

In the early 2000s, the primary goal of SAAM was awareness — both raising visibility of the teal ribbon and the meaning behind it. By the mid-2000s, SAAM incorporated prevention more heavily, focusing on areas such as communities, workplaces, and college campuses. These campaigns discussed ways that individuals and communities can stop sexual assault before it happens by changing behaviors and promoting respect.

Though each year may have a different theme, they all share the same goals: to raise awareness about sexual assault and share how it can be prevented. Today, we also want to bring emphasis on the survivors and encourage them to tell their stories. The hope is that by hearing them, it will call attention to who the abusers, as well as let others know it’s ok and not to be embarrassed to speak up. In fact, it is one of the bravest acts, and survivors should be applauded. Because of them, we know more and more where the problems lay and work hard to prevent them. Our most powerful tool is the light of truth.

SNAP is an independent, peer network of survivors of sexual abuse that was also created for survivors. A place where victims can share experiences, get help, resources, and promote advocacy. Their main focus is on:

      • Support Survivors
      • Protect Children
      • Protect the vulnerable
      • Heal the wounded
      • Expose the truth

Together we are a unified voice to bring about change by exposing the malignant actions of abusive people and anyone that harms another sexually in any way without consent. This includes people of power, teachers, doctors, nannies, boy scout leaders, religious ministers, and church officials who shield them or are tangentially related to them in any way. Horowitz Law encourages individuals and communities to show their support for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse by wearing teal — the color of sexual violence prevention this month. We want you to tell your story and speak up because we are listening. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing survivors of sexual abuse. We have handled multiple cases of sexual abuse. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, assaulted, raped, or molested, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Suing the Church Horowitz Law

Top Reasons Why Suing the Church Can Ultimately Help It

This is what a hypothetical Q & A with a still-church-going Catholic who was abused by a priest, nun, seminarian, bishop, brother, or any other clerics when asked about suing the church.

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “Sue my church? Heavens no! Surely there are other ways to make the church safer that are not so confrontational and adversarial.”

Follow-up: One would like to think so. But when it comes to children’s safety, why take any chances and waste time? Time and time again, history has shown that litigation is often the quickest way to shed light where it’s needed and prod slow-moving or recalcitrant decision-makers to act. If your goals include publicly exposing predators, getting them away from kids, stopping cover-ups, deterring deceit, or bringing comfort to those hurt in childhood, suing the church almost always works.

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “But I love my church, and I would not want to do anything to hurt it.”

Follow-up: This may be precisely why you should consider stepping forward and taking action. Doing nothing about abuse or possible cover-up will likely HURT your church than speaking up. Of course, exposing horror will indeed be painful for a few church officials in the short term. But it may be the single most effective thing you can do for the church itself to make your church members safer and your church more transparent and healthy.

And let’s not confuse your church with its hierarchy. Exposing wrongdoing may hurt wrongdoers. But those wrongdoers are NOT the church. Nor do they belong in positions of power in the church. Your church is made up of moms, dads, grandparents, and children. Doesn’t their well-being and safety take precedence over the feelings or reputations of a few individuals high up in the church?

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “But I don’t want revenge or punishment or compensation.”

Follow-up: Neither do most survivors. Your view is in fact admirable. Each of these – revenge, punishment, and compensation – can be problematic. Revenge often hurts the person who tries to inflict it more than the intended recipient. Punishment is only sometimes a worthy goal. And compensation isn’t always necessarily a good thing. But there are plenty of reasons to speak up that don’t relate to revenge, punishment, or compensation. These include prevention, justice, healing, and reform.

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “I don’t want people to think I’m angry and bitter.”

Follow-up: That’s understandable. But maybe what other people might think of you shouldn’t be your top priority. Maybe stopping others from committing or concealing heinous crimes against kids should come first. Besides, if you have the personal wherewithal to survive horrible crimes and reach a level of maturity and success in your life, then you may be much more able to look beyond your own personal needs and wants. You may have a greater capacity to focus on the bigger picture: those who may have been hurt already or maybe in the throes of an abuser right now but are not so fortunate or don’t have the personal strengths you have.

Q: If someone at your church abused you, don’t you want to sue them and stop it from happening again?
A: “Basically, I feel like I’ve recovered from my abuse, so why would I sue now?”

Follow-up: Congratulations on your progress and hard work! We commend you for rebuilding your life. Others, however, are likely not so successful in overcoming abuse. Please think about them and how your taking action may well help them move further along in their own recovery. Think about the fact that self-serving clergy may still be in positions of power, both those who perpetrated and those who concealed your abuse. The fact that you’ve healed does nothing to hold these clerics accountable or decrease the chances that they’ll act hurtfully to others in the future.

Finally, please think about children who are at risk right now. Your speaking up through litigation might stop a child molesting cleric or a deceitful church supervisor. Filing a lawsuit might prevent another girl or boy from being severely violated by a supposed ‘Man of God’ like you were. Catholic church corruption has been going on for decades and it needs to stop. Check out Bishop Accountability for more info on your diocese.

Attorney Adam Horowitz represents children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by a priest, minister, rabbi, deacon, nuns, or other clergies in civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

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.