Montana Attorneys Investigating Sexual Assault Claims Against Roman Catholic Church Dioceses
Many Catholic Church parishioners build strong bonds with their religious leaders, who often serve as esteemed pillars of the community.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the Church has faced exposure to countless violations that strips away the trust adults and children placed in their pastor, priest, minister, deacon, brother, sister, bishop, or cardinal accused of sexually assaulting innocent victims.
Many of the spiritual leaders have used the position of power to prey upon the Church’s most vulnerable by sexually assaulting one or more parishioners. Horrifically, church officials have often protected the molesting reverend to ensure they avoid prosecution without helping innocent survivors by covering clergy sex abuse.
Not every sexual abuse victim can speak out about the despicable assault they experienced until months or years later.
If you are a sexual survivor or your loved one was victimized through childhood sexual abuse, the compassionate sexual abuse lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can help.
Our caring team understands the pain you are feeling and the courage it takes to speak openly about what occurred. Our clergy sexual abuse injury attorneys are here to listen to your story and provide legal advice to move your confidential case forward.
Let our law firm use our comprehensive knowledge of Montana tort law to build a solid civil case that ensures that the sexual predator faces their consequences for what they did.
Additionally, we can work with local law enforcement to initiate criminal charges by reporting the crime.
Clergy Sexual Assault Remains a Problem
In 2018, a Jesuit Order Report identified nearly a dozen Catholic religious leaders accused of sexually assaulting victims. Many listed names had already been identified in the Helena and Great Fall-Billings Diocese’s reports that involved credible Montana sexual abuse claims filed against priests and other clergy members.
A few of the priests on the list of allegedly sexually abusing minors had ministered to Catholic parishioners in Montana.
The number of sexually assaulted survivors may be significantly higher than thought because many victims never report to anyone, including the police or diocese, what happened.
The Devastating Effects of Sexual Assault
Victims of sexual abuse often leveled the lifelong devastation of what happened that negatively impact their well-being.
Sexual assaulted children and adults can suffer from significant sleeping disorders, ongoing depression, substance abuse, self-injury, and suicide, including suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide).
Every victim of sexual abuse handles the trauma uniquely. However, young children and teenage victims might develop negative eating habits, begin living an over-sexualized lifestyle, or engage in any form of risky conduct or deviant sexual behavior.
Justice for Victims of Clergy Abuse
In 2014, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena sought bankruptcy protection through the bankruptcy court after paying out $15 million in compensation to over 360 victims of sexual abuse harmed by Church clergy members.
Faced with the prospect of future abuse cases, the Montana Catholic Church declared bankruptcy, compromising the results of many civil claims.
Four years later, in 2018, the Great Falls/Billings Diocese agreed to a $20 million settlement to resolve sexual abuse claims filed by eighty-six abuse survivors. Many Montana clergy abuse survivors had alleged that they were sexually assaulted as underage children by priests employed by the diocese.
Some childhood sexual abuse cases involving accused priests dating back to the 1950s remain unresolved.
Documents reveal that the Roman Catholic Church in Montana covered up the problem of clergy sexual abuse at the hands of accused priests occurring as far back as the 1940s.
These despicable acts of sexual abuse committed by priests and Church officials occurred on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation at the Saint Labre Indian School.
The Montana Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse
All civil claims are governed by a time limitation for filing a lawsuit known as the statute of limitations. Your failure to file a lawsuit or settle a claim within the statute of limitations (SOL) will forever bar your claim and you will not be able to recover any compensation.
Montana had a one-year reprieve in which cases could be brought even after the statute of limitations expired. However, this window expired on May 7, 2020. The regular law in Montana is that child sexual abuse victims have until the age of 27 or until three years after the discovery of the abuse to file a lawsuit.
While the SOL restricts the length of time a sexual abuse survivor could file a compensation claim against a Catholic Church religious leader, there may be extenuating circumstances that extend the time limit.
An experienced Montana clergy sexual abuse lawyer can evaluate case evidence to determine how to move the abuse case forward against the predator and diocese officials.
The length of time to file childhood sexual abuse civil claims, the district attorney has longer to file criminal charges to hold the Montana clergy members accountable for the sexual crime. The law allows our child sexual abuse lawyers handling claims in Montana to file cases against predator priests, including clergy members, and church officials.
Statute of limitations are very fact dependent. We urge you to contact a clergy abuse lawyer in your area to determine the applicable statute to your specific situation.
Great Falls-Billings and Helena Montana Dioceses
In Montana, the Catholic Church is the single largest religious group of all faiths statewide. The two dioceses (Diocese of Helena and the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings) and their Bishops manage more than 165 parishes and Catholic elementary schools and high schools throughout Montana.
The Church provides services to thousands of registered Catholics living in fifty-six counties through the Montana Catholic Diocese and Catholic priests.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls
121 23rd St S
Great Falls, MT 59401
Bishop: Michael William Warfel
Cathedral: St. Ann’s Cathedral (Great Falls)
Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena
515 N Ewing St
Helena, MT 59601
Bishop: Austin Vetter
Cathedral: Cathedral of Saint Helena
Child Sexual Abuse Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions raised by victims of child sexual abuse. We appreciate that these questions may give rise to additional questions or concerns about you specific situation. Consequently, we invite you to contact our law firm for a free consultation with an experience attorney.
Will My Clergy Abuse Case Settle Out of Court?
Most clergy sexual abuse cases get resolved either in settlement negotiations outside of court or at some point during litigation, but prior to trial. While there is no guarantee that your case will get resolved quickly, we can only assure you that our attorneys will do everything possible to position your case for a successful outcome.
What Type of Compensation Can I Recovery in a Montana Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
Damages in a lawsuit or settlement for child sexual abuse are comprised of economic and non-economic damages. Like other civil claims, such as a personal injury, damages in sexual abuse cases are comprised of:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses for past and future care
- Lost wages
- Counseling and psychotherapy
- Loss of normal life
- Anguish and grief
In some situations, a court may grant victims the ability to recover punitive damages.
Our sexual abuse lawyers are committed to maximizing the value of each case. We regularly retain expert witnesses to assist in conveying the extent of our client’s injuries to a judge, jury or mediator to help convey the extent of the damage.
How Does a Criminal Case Impact a Civil Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
In some situations involving child sexual abuse, the perpetrator may face criminal charges related to their abusive conduct. Regardless of the situation, criminal charges are different from civil charges and the standard of evidence in a criminal court is different from the standard used in a civil case.
Consequently, the outcome of a criminal trial is generally inadmissible in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse.
However, if a defendant (clergy member) pleads guilty to criminal charges, the guilty plea may be admissible in the civil case.
Can I Bring a Clergy Abuse Lawsuit Against the Catholic Church if the Clergy Member is Dead?
Survivors of clergy abuse may bring a lawsuit against the Catholic Church (or other religious organizations) even if their abuser is dead or is serving time in jail. The claim for compensation in a sexual abuse case survives against the entity the perpetrator was affiliated with. As a result many pending clergy abuse cases are now pending in courts across the country where the alleged perpetrators are no longer living.
To determine if you are eligible to file a claim, we invite you to speak with out lawyers for a free consultation regarding your legal rights and options for recovery.
Montana Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys Are Ready to Help
Our law firm understands the difficult challenges you face when talking about the accused priest or clergy member and the vile sexual things they did to you. We also know the power of the Roman Catholic Church in their continuing efforts to fight back against sex abuse victims, saying nothing happened to prevent their clergy from facing criminal charges.
We have experience resolving sex abuse cases and the sensitivity that they require, building cases through our comprehensive understanding of Montana tort law.
However, with Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, on your side, the victim will never face Catholic leaders and the predator clergy member alone. We can assure you that your shocking story will be heard by all those responsible when settling your case or presenting evidence at trial.
Let us begin working on your confidential case today to ensure you receive compensation for your damages, pain, and suffering. Speak out now and let us file a case on your behalf. Your action can help ensure no one is ever abused or sexually assaulted by religious authorities again.
A competent Montana clergy sexual abuse lawyer can help in your quest to obtain financial compensation for you and your family through an abuse settlement. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757. All information you share with our law firm about the clergy abuse that you suffered during an initial, free consultation concerning your case will remain confidential.
All information you share with our personal injury law firm concerning your Montana sexual abuse case will remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.