Clergy members sexually abusing congregation members can inflict overwhelming physical, mental, and psychosocial wounds that last a lifetime. Clergy sexual molestation survivors often deal with unimaginable emotional trauma, keeping the secret of how an individual with religious authorities told their innocence. This web page will go through clergy abuse statistics to give some perspective on this pervasive issue.

Are you or someone you know a clergy sexually abused survivor? Are you looking for legal remedies to hold sexual perpetrators accountable? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can discuss all your legal options.

Contact our sexual abuse lawyers today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our compassionate legal team can provide a confidential setting to discuss your story of what happened days, weeks, months, or years ago.

The Roman Catholic Church leadership had stayed silent for decades on clergy members sexually abusing children and young churchgoers. In the last twenty years, many sexually abused survivors have come forward recounting how priests, ministers, clergy, or other religious leaders sexually assaulted them decades ago.

Many sexually abused victims waited too long to file charges against their sexual predators years after the statute of limitations expired. However, many states have changed sexual predator laws, lifting the restrictions on how long sexually abused survivors can file a claim or lawsuit against all those responsible for the molestation.

What Is Clergy Abuse?

Religious leaders and clergy members from numerous organizations including the Catholic Church, Protestant denominations, Mormons, and others have been involved in abusing minors for centuries. Clergy sexual predators is a global abuse scandal on a worldwide scale involving sex crimes against the innocent.

For decades, church officials have protected the sexual predator under their employment while abandoning child sex molestation survivors that suffer the impact that lasts their entire lives. Many sexual predators died years ago, never being held accountable for their unspeakable acts.

Roman Catholic Church Sexual Predators

For the last few years, the Pennsylvania Attorney General has released the state’s grand jury report identifying credible allegations of sexual misconduct involving predator priests in the state. The 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report identified 300 clergies sexually abusing over a thousand children in cases dating back seven decades.

Attorneys General in other states responded nearly immediately by looking into problems with the Catholic Church leadership hiding predators in parishes and Church-operated retirement homes to hold them accountable.

The release of the grand jury report generated intense pressure from child sex abuse advocates to act. In response to the report, the Conference of Catholic Bishops released a charter of procedures for how the Catholic Church in the United States will resolve thousands of cases of sex molestation their leaders had hidden since the 1930s.

Some clergy abuse statistics involving sexual predators in the Catholic Church include:

  • In 2002, the Conference of Catholic Bishops contracted the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to study over 11,000 allegations of sexual misconduct involving nearly 4400 Catholic priests in the US
  • The John Jay Report identified approximately 4% of all active Catholic priests in the US between 1950 and 2002 had been accused of sexual abuse of minors
  • By 2008, the John Jay Report added hundreds of more names to the list of the accused Catholic priests, deacons, and other living and deceased religious leaders, totaling 5375 accused predators, including many that had been a part of the church’s cover-up
  • In 2009, the John Jay report added 286 more names of Catholic priests to their sexual predator list, including many that had been a part of the church’s cover-up
  • In April 2021, the Santa Fe Archdiocese revealed they were selling off over 700 properties later in the year to initiate a settlement fund to resolve approximately 400 sex molestation lawsuits
  • In April 2021, five men and woman filed a civil lawsuit in federal court claiming sexual predators victimized them years ago in Rhode Island and New Hampshire at schools operated by the Legion of Christ
  • In February 2021, 145 sexually abused survivors harmed when children negotiated a $21.5 million settlement with the Minnesota Diocese of Winona-Rochester
  • In 2004, a Louisville Kentucky attorney filed a civil lawsuit against the Vatican claiming church leaders organized to cover up three male sex offenders harming children as far back as the 1920s, and the US Court of Appeals denied the Catholic Church’s claim of sovereign immunity, allowing the case to move forward

Catholic Church Settlement Amounts Statistics

Over the last few decades, the Catholic Church has negotiated settlements and lost lawsuit trials ending and multimillion-dollar jury awards.

Research revealed a small sampling of those jury awards and negotiated settlement statistics below involving billions of dollars paid by the church and their insurance companies including:

  • Jurors in the Long Island New York court awarded $11.45 million to a young woman and man claiming a use minister repeatedly raped both as far back as the late 1990s (2007)
  • The Spokane, WA Diocese Reorganization Plan mediators distributed $48 million among the hundred and forty plaintiffs, resolving cases involving sexually abusive priests (2007)
  • The Portland Diocese paid $175 million to resolve lawsuits involving hundred fifty sexually abused survivors assaulted by religious leaders (2007)
  • The Los Angeles Archdiocese reached a massive 660 million Dollar settlement agreement to resolve sex abuse lawsuits involving predator Catholic priests and 508 sexually abused survivors (2007)
  • A San Diego Archdiocese bankruptcy case distributed $198.1 million among hundred and forty-four sexually abused plaintiffs harmed by religious leaders (2007)
  • Belleville, IL jurors awarded $2.4 million in compensatory damages and $2.6 million in punitive damages to a victim of sex molestation (2008)
  • Data revealed that eight sexually abused survivors agreed to a negotiated settlement of $23.4 million in Dallas, TX as a part of a $119.6 million jury verdict, awarded in 1997 (2010)
  • A Lafayette, LA jury awarded $1.55 million to a sexually abused survivor, harmed by a Catholic priest, and $250,000 to the victim’s parents (2011)
  • Data reveals that over 145 abuse victims received $40.7 million paid by the Portland, OR diocese and their insurance company (2007)
  • The federal bankruptcy court ordered the Organ Province of the Jesuits to pay $48.1 million and their insurer Safeco to pay $118 million to resolve approximately 500 cases of sexual molestation involving numerous living and dead sexual predators in their Religious Orders (2011)
  • A Burlington, VT jury awarded the plaintiff $192,500 in compensatory damages and $3.4 million in punitive damages to resolve a case involving a Paquette priest (2008)
  • A Fairbanks, AK bankruptcy judge allocated $9.8 million to a sex molestation compensation fund involving 256 victims (2010)
  • A Savannah, GA sexually abused survivor negotiated a $4.24 million settlement with the Catholic Church after previously receiving $200,000 for therapy (2009)
  • Forty-seven sexually abused survivors in Bridgeport, CT negotiated a $16.7 million settlement with the Catholic Church (2003)
  • Between 2004, and 2019, the Catholic Church spent nearly $145 million on therapy, abused survivor legal expenses, and therapy
  • Many children sexually assaulted by Catholic priests were harmed when students participating in church, school, summer camp, catechism class, sports, youth groups, and other religious activities

Clergy Predator Sexual Abuse Allegations

For decades, the Catholic Church and other religious organizations have been protecting priests, brothers, sisters, Bishops, Cardinals, nuns, religious leaders, church workers, and lay teachers after reported allegations of sexual misconduct.

Clergy sexually abused survivors are among the estimated 9.2% of minors sexually assaulted during their lifetimes who were assaulted by someone they know including religious leaders, lay teachers, family members, and use leaders.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data defines child sex molestation as:

  • Any sexual conduct between minor victims and adults
  • Blatant sexual contact including intercourse, genital manual stimulation, and oral/genital contact
  • Fondling the child or predator’s genitals or other body parts in a prolonged or sexual manner
  • Inappropriate kissing between minor victims and predators
  • Inappropriate touching intending to sexually arouse the predators or minor victims
  • Sexual coercion
  • Sexual contact by a creditor at any developmental stage older than the child
  • Stimulating behaviors including photographing the child, showing explicit erotic material, or talking sexually toward the minor
  • Local law enforcement officials may identify sex molestation and sex offenders differently than the above list.

Christian and Other Faiths’ Sexual Predators

The nation’s three largest insurance carriers reported in 2018 that they “typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under eighteen being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers, or congregation members.”

The major denominations in the U.S. involve and covering up sexual predators include:

  • Baptists
  • Methodists
  • Pentecostal
  • Lutheran
  • Presbyterian
  • Protestantism
  • Evangelical Protestantism
  • Catholic Church
  • Eastern Orthodox Christianity
  • Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

Clergy Abuse Consequences

Many clergy sexually abused survivors spend a lifetime with the emotional and physical trauma inflicted by their abuser. Sexual molestation causes a significant adverse impact on their lives and the lives of their family members and relationships.

The aftereffects of childhood sexual assault vary between survivors. However, nearly all experience immediate psychological consequences and lifelong effects as the child grows older.

The common psychological consequences the child experiences immediately after the sex molestation include:

  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Behavior problems
  • Blood-borne infections
  • Commitment issues
  • Confusion
  • Chronic disease or pain
  • Date rape and other victimization
  • Delinquency
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Developmental delays
  • Difficult parent/child relationships
  • Dissociative symptoms
  • Distrust of others
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Early motherhood
  • Fear
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Grief
  • Guilt
  • High-risk sexual behaviors
  • Insomnia (somatic issues)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Marital conflict
  • Marital dissatisfaction
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Mental health issues including depression, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, and panic disorders
  • Nervousness
  • Neural biological changes
  • Permissive parenting practices
  • Personal conflict
  • Poor body image
  • Postpartum depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Psychological distress
  • School maladjustment
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Self-mutilation
  • Sexual behavior problems
  • Sexual issues including vaginismus (women) and painful intercourse
  • Sexual offenses
  • Sexual revictimization
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Shock
  • Social isolation behavior
  • Spousal violence
  • Strained familial relationships
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Team pregnancy
  • Withdrawal

The young child will likely make a social or psychological adjustment to deal with the horrific event that could carry into adulthood, married life, and parenting. Studies indicate that specific developmental processes are drastically affected including their cognitive style, emotional regulation, and coping mechanisms.

Approximately 33% of sexually assaulted children never display the problematic symptoms associated with sexual molestation until it reaches a critical threshold. Common symptoms include:

  • The child’s sexual molestation experience might have been less severe than in typical cases,
  • The child had optimal coping skills when the abuse and trauma occurred,
  • The child did not exhibit common symptoms when being assessed that will likely manifest later in life,
  • The age of the survivor at the time of the sexual assault will play a crucial role in the sexual molestation consequences they could display later in life
  • Victims of childhood sexual molestation are at higher risk of suffering mental health issues during maturity and are nearly 10 times more likely to suffer alcohol or drug abuse (substance abuse disorder).

Church Organizations Funding Sexual Assault Victims’ Treatments

For decades, Catholic Church dioceses paid childhood sexually abused victims’ treatments to avoid notifying local law enforcement of sexually abusive Catholic priests and clerics. The treatment often involves various therapies, based on the age of the child. Some of these therapies include:

Solution-focus therapy and solution-focus therapy, incorporate positive psychological practices and principles, helping clients find constructive solutions instead of focusing on the sexual assault

Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), resolves many behavioral and emotional difficulties associated with traumatic experiences including child sexual abuse

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DVT) – found affected for treating borderline personality disorders and useful for suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide), mood disorder, and behavioral pattern changes including substance abuse and self-harm

Many times, these useful tools have helped the sexually abused child feel safe again by working through traumatic experiences. These programs can minimize long-term adverse effects and help build resilience by empowering the sexual abuse survivor.

Clergy Sexual Abuse and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Doctors diagnose PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in patients who have experienced a traumatic event, like sexual assault. Typically, the assault harms the victim’s psychological or physical integrity, causing a reactive response of or, helplessness, or intense fear.

Victims of clergy abuse could display signs of PTSD through:

Re-experiencing – The child abuse survivor might display the symptoms associated with the trauma through their nightmares or flashbacks,

Avoidance – The sexually abused survivor might consciously or unconsciously avoid any situation, feeling, or thought that reminds them of the traumatic experience. The avoidance might be displayed through difficulty remembering, dissociation, or emotional numbness,

Hyperarousal – The sexual abuse victim remains hypervigilant, and always alert, even when danger is not present. Typical hyperarousal symptoms include the inability to sleep (insomnia).

Many sexually abused survivors feel hopeless and lose their belief in the goodness of others and the ability to change. During their desire to eradicate their traumatic experience, they often are unable to break through the recurring symptoms associated with sexual abuse, including:

  • Nightmares
  • Identifiable fears
  • Recurring memories and flashbacks
  • Recurring traumatic sensations
  • Trauma reenactment
  • Distress problem when remembering the abuse
  • Concentration problems
  • Trauma memory avoidance
  • Diminished activity interests
  • Persistently recounting the trauma
  • The sensation that the trauma is recurring

Don’t Be a Statistic. Our Sexual Abuse Attorneys Have Obtained Millions of Dollars in Jury Verdicts and Settlements for Our Clients

Are you a childhood sexually abused victim or has your loved one recently opened up about a religious leader’s inappropriate sexual behaviors? If so, you are likely entitled to receive financial compensation for your damages.

Contact the clergy abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. We can provide a confidential setting to discuss what happened.

Our law offices currently follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Covid-19 (coronavirus) social distancing guidelines to ensure the safety of our clients. We accept all cases through contingency fee agreements, meaning no upfront payments are required until the case is successfully resolved.