Clergy Sex Abuse Claims in Winter Garden

A number of religious leaders and officials nationwide—most infamously within the Catholic Church—have been engaging in rampant sexual abuse of vulnerable children and adult community members for decades. Unfortunately, Florida is no exception to this unwanted trend, as evidenced by a recent investigation conducted by the state Attorney General which named almost a hundred priests accused of sexual abuse in the state.

If you were sexually abused by a clergy member while you were a minor, you may still have grounds to pursue civil litigation against various people responsible for your abuse. That applies even if no criminal charges have been filed and the usual statute of limitations for civil claims has expired. Assistance from compassionate personal injury attorneys is available for anyone who wants to explore their options for clergy sex abuse claims in Winter Garden.

Establishing Civil Liability for Clergy Sexual Abuse

Anyone who engages in sexual molestation, exploitation, or battery of someone under 18—including and especially authority figures within religious organizations—can face civil liability for injuries and losses they cause to the person they abuse. That is in addition to criminal prosecution for their violation of state law. What many people do not know, though, is that an individual clergy member is not the only party who could hold civil liability for losses caused by sexual abuse in Winter Garden.

In practice, lawsuits against clergy members over sexual abuse are built around allegations that the named defendant(s) violated an implied “fiduciary duty” they owed to the person they abused. This means they failed to act in accordance with their position of authority and guidance over that person. In addition to the individual clergyperson who actually engages in sexual abuse, the organization which employs or names that clergy person as a member in good standing often owes a fiduciary duty to other members of their organization.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to file suit against a church or similar organization for negligent hiring, failing to properly supervise clergy members, or negligently (and sometimes knowingly) retaining a person accused of abuse. This can make it easier to recover for long-term damages such as medical and therapeutic treatment costs, physical and psychological suffering, and lost quality of life.

What Deadlines Apply to Clergy Sex Abuse Cases?

Most of the time, someone who sustains injury through another person committing a sex crime against them has (as of 2023) a maximum of two years under state law to file civil suit against their abuser. However, there is an extremely important exception to this “statute of limitations” carved out specifically for minors subjected to sexual abuse.

Anyone who was sexually abused by a clergyperson or any other adult in Winter Garden before the victim turned 16 years old has no time limit on their right to file suit against their abuser or enablers. Even if decades have passed since the abuse occurred, it may still be possible to pursue a claim with help from a knowledgeable legal professional.

Learn How a Winter Garden Attorney Could Help With a Clergy Sex Abuse Claim

Sexual abuse by priests, bishops, and other high-ranking religious leaders has impacted thousands of Americans over the past several decades. If you or a family member were abused by a clergy member you trusted, you likely have standing to file suit against them and demand compensation for the harms you endured.

Clergy sex abuse claims in Winter Garden can be challenging to pursue alone for many reasons. Call today to learn how The Umansky Law Firm could assist with your case.

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    Clergy Sex Abuse Claims in Winter Garden