As this blog recently discussed, a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed widespread child sexual abuse in the Catholic church at the hands of priests. Some have described the problem as a crisis or an epidemic. In total, greater than 300 priests were responsible for the abuse of greater than 1,000 children in dioceses across Pennsylvania. The abuse went on in the state for seventy years.
The problem is just part of a greater problem nationally and internationally. The latest grand jury investigation released in Pennsylvania lays bare the extent to which bishops and others within the church hierarchy were complicit in covering up the abuse and even aided and abetted it in some circumstances. While there is an obvious need to address the systematic sexually abusive culture within the church, resources are available to help child sexual abuse survivors who suffered abuse at the hands of the clergy.
Victims of child sex abuse in the church should understand the legal protections available to them. Because the legal remedies can be complex, it is important to be familiar with what they are. It is also helpful to be familiar with the timelines and process for making claims of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse includes the infliction of sexual contact on another person that is forcible or the engaging in sexual abuse of inflicting sexual abuse on a person.
The benefit of trained guidance can sometimes be useful to help victims navigate through the sometimes seeming complexities of the legal process. It is understandable that these concerns can be sensitive in nature but victims should be aware of the different types of legal protections available to them.