Clergy Sexual Abuse
The Law Offices of Peter Angelos has developed a team of lawyers to help survivors and victims in their path to healing. We understand that there is a world of difference, and a long path of healing, that exists between being a victim of child sexual abuse and being a survivor. In our work with these individuals, we have come to understand that while both a victim and a survivor have suffered abuse, a victim has just recognized the healing process necessary to move forward with life. Often, a victim can go decades without recognizing healing is needed or how difficult the healing process can be. We understand that to these individuals, reassurance, patience and compassion are necessary.
We also understand the needs and voices of survivors. Working with those individuals, we have interacted with people who are emotionally confident in sharing their abuse experience. Generally, these individuals are involved in a long healing process that enables them to discuss openly their feelings and circumstances. Many of these folks are also comfortable in helping other victims and survivors with their healing. We understand the difference and are prepared to help anyone who has suffered the atrocity of child sexual abuse.
Attorneys Dedicated to Victims and Survivors
The team, including Jay D. Miller, Glenn E. Mintzer, Aaron R. Parker, Danielle S. Dinsmore and Marissa B. Joelson, is now actively involved in investigating civil claims against various church officials across Pennsylvania and nationally. These attorneys have experience in many areas of civil litigation, and place a special emphasis on understanding and compassion while helping clients navigate complex civil litigation. Perhaps more important than their years of work with survivors and victims of other horrible wrongdoing, the team members are personally committed to ensuring that survivors' and victims' voices are heard, and that justice is served.
Federal Investigation, Criminal Charges and Civil Suits Move Forward
A grand jury report released in August 2018, detailed claims of sexual abuse by more than 300 hundred priests of more than 1,000 victims across Pennsylvania. The report has had wide-reaching consequences and has spurred investigations within various other dioceses across the country, including Washington D.C. and Maryland. Specifically, the report resulted in criminal charges being filed against two priests from the Greensburg diocese.
The U.S. Justice Department also opened an investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania in October. Subpoenas have been served demanding confidential documents and testimony from various church leaders.
In addition to the criminal prosecutions and the US DOJ investigation, civil lawsuits have commenced against the Church.
Resources for Victims and Survivors
Seven of Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses have pledged to create victim compensation funds for those who were sexually abused by Pennsylvania priests. These dioceses include Pittsburgh, Allentown, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Scranton, Erie and Philadelphia. Some of these victim compensation fund programs have begun accepting claims, and letters have been mailed to victims detailing the claims process.
The victim compensation program may be an appropriate option for some survivor/victims. Those who do not wish to confront their abusers or the failures of the church to protect children, due to the emotional and mental costs involved, may elect to pursue the victim compensation fund program instead of legal action.
However, before engaging in the victim compensation program option, all survivors and victims should understand that these programs have no appeals process, and are truly a discretionary settlement tool created by the Church. Survivors and victims who accept compensation through this program must waive their right to file any subsequent future legal claims against the diocese. Anyone who may wish to consider the diocese' compensation program as an option should do so only after consulting with an experienced attorney.
How We Can Help
We agree that bringing litigation that can survive any defense raised by the Church is important to our clients and all survivors/victims. To that end, our research and investigation continues to focus on the Church’s conspiracy that covered up decades of systemic, institutional and cultural abuse visited on our clients. It is our hope to bring a voice to our clients as our investigation unfolds.
Sexual abuse, particularly of minors, is a reprehensible crime that has long-lasting emotional, physical and mental impacts on survivors/victims and their families. It is vital for survivors/victims of such abuse to be heard and for their claims to be investigated.
The compassionate and experienced victims rights attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter Angelos have tirelessly served the community at their three office locations across Pennsylvania and have years of experience advocating for victims. If you have experienced abuse at the hands of an institution such as the Catholic Church, we encourage you to reach out to discuss your legal options today.