Sexual abuse is something no victim should ever have to suffer. According to a recent grand jury report, internal documents from Catholic dioceses throughout Pennsylvania reveal that greater than 300 “predator priests” are credibly accused of abusing greater than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury also noted its belief that the true number of child sexual abuse victims at the hands of the church is in the thousands. In addition, the grand jury identified a pattern of practice of concealing the abuse. The abuse dates back to 1947 in six different dioceses throughout Pennsylvania.

Those who represent victims of sexual abuse are speaking out against the cover ups and calling for accountability for those involved in the childhood sexual abuse. Though some of the cases of abuse may be considered too old to prosecute criminally, additional legal options may be available to victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of the church. There are many important protections available to victims of sexual abuse, including legal protections, with which they should familiarize themselves.

Legal options are available for victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits against their perpetrators and possibly others as well, though those that advocate for sex abuse victims note that the age limit for filing such lawsuits should be extended to those older than what is currently allowed. Coming forward is understandably difficult. Because it can take time for victims to be able to come forward, there is an argument in favor of victims being allowed to bring a lawsuit at any age. Calls for accountability to end this type of sex abuse behavior in the church are being voiced and the ability for more victims to bring lawsuits may be one increased measure of accountability.

Because sexual abuse is such an unthinkable trauma for victims to have to suffer, legal protections exist at different levels to try to help them through the challenges they face. Legal resources serve as one option to help victims seek the accountability for the abuse they have suffered and the accountability that they deserve.