Two men have filed separate lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey, CA claiming that negligence by church officials allowed them to be molested by priests. In one case, the victim said he only recently discovered the psychological damage he suffered from the 18 month long molestation. His lawsuit claims diocese officials were aware of previous allegations of abuse against the same priest and that they had reason to suspect the abuse, but failed to inform the victim’s family. In the second case, the abuse by a Salinas priest led the 16-year-old teen to attempt suicide twice. At no time did the diocese advise parishioners of the allegations. Both suits claim negligence by the diocese and seek unspecified damages. The Monterey diocese has faced at least one other lawsuit alleging abuse by one of its priests. It settled that suit in 2009 for $1.2 million.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you are aware of the sex abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church dating back to the late 1980’s. As an attorney who has handled Catholic priest abuse cases, it continues to boggle my mind that these dioceses would not only cover up these sexual abuse, but would also allow the offender to re-offend. That is correct; despite their despicable conduct, the Church transfers the priest to another parish. Why weren’t these children protected? No child should ever suffer sexual abuse from anyone; this is especially true of those we entrust our children’s safety to, like priests, teachers, and coaches.
Child abusers seek to operate and abuse their power within nurturing, child-friendly environments where it is assumed that nobody would want to harm a child. Child sexual abuse is scary, but you don’t have to feel powerless. We, as parents, have the most power to our protect children. Talk to your kids; explain what physical acts of conduct are and are not acceptable. Furthermore, explain to them that they need to be open and honest with you. If they feel someone is approaching them in an inappropriate or questionable manner, they need to tell you right away. Reporting sexual misconduct is the best way to bring a predator to justice and prevent him/her from harming others. Every time you share a fact with someone about child molestation, and every time you tell them what can be done to stop it, you are building a stronger safety net for children.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of sexual abuse, it is important to contact the authorities immediately. You should also seek legal counsel from an attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases. Lawsuit Financial, the pro-justice lawsuit funding company, has a free referral program that will assist you in finding an attorney. The call is free; the advice is priceless.