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Churches should be a place of comfort, hope, and peace for attendees. However, for some, the church is anything but.

Sexual abuse scandals have tainted churches and their leadership for decades. Abuse in religious organizations is particularly rampant among children in the care of clergy members. Since 1950, nearly 17,000 people have reported childhood sexual abuse from Catholic clergy.

If you’ve suffered abuse at the hands of clergy, a lawyer with experience in helping victims of sexual abuse can help explain what to do:

Sexual Abuse Is a Widespread Problem in Texas and New Mexico Churches

Texas and New Mexico are home to thousands of churches of all denominations. The vast majority are wonderful places, but there are always a few bad apples in the bunch.

Religious sexual abuse tends to happen because clergy or others in leadership positions are in a position of power over members, particularly children. Children are often reluctant to speak up about what happened, and even if they’re brave enough, few people might be willing to believe them.

To make matters worse, many clergy members are aware of abuse sexual abuse and assault but fail to report it. Perhaps they want to protect their colleagues, or maybe they want to avoid the spotlight that such a scandal would shine on their religious institution.

Understanding Consent

As with other sexual abuse claims, a lawyer must consider whether or not consent was involved before filing a lawsuit. In both New Mexico and Texas, there is no consent if:

  • The perpetrator used violence, intimidation, or threats to force their victim to comply with sexual demands
  • The victim was under 17 years of age
  • The victim was unconscious, disabled, or mentally incapacitated

What this means is that even if someone “consented” to a sexual act with a clergy member when they were a child, this is not true consent in the eyes of the law. Therefore, you can hold your abuser, and more importantly, the organization that put the abuser in a position to commit the abuse,  accountable.

Childhood Religious Abuse Statute of Limitations

If you’ve suffered abuse from a clergy member, you can file a lawsuit against them (and perhaps the church if it failed to report known abuse). However, you must understand the statute of limitations, a deadline by which you must report abuse to recover damages.

Statutes of Limitations vary from state to state and, because of the nature of sexual abuse claims, can even vary from other Statutes of Limitations for personal injury within the same state. It’s critical that you reach out to an experienced law firm that has had success in representing clients who have been victims of religious and sexual abuse. 

Damages Available for Victims of  Sexual Abuse

If you choose to sue your abuser and the church that allowed the abuser to have access to the victim, you may be able to seek compensation for:

  • Medical and mental health treatment bills
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress damages, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm or attempted suicide

We’ll Help You Recover Damages for Abuse From a Church or Other Religious Organization

Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. understand the complexities and challenges of childhood religious sexual abuse cases. Our attorneys will fight hard to prove religious sexual abuse and achieve justice on your behalf.

Learn about your rights and options for legal recourse by calling our firm at (800) 433-2408 to consult a lawyer with experience in representing victims of sexual abuse in religious organizations.