Back in 2004, The John Jay College of Criminal Justice compiled a study detailing the nature and scope of clergy sexual abuse cases in the United States – the first comprehensive national report of its kind.
Detailing 50 Years of Abuse
The study, which was born out of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, and commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, revealed some startling statistics regarding sexual abuse claims made against clergy members serving over the last 50 years.
Most notably, the study concluded that approximately four percent of priests serving since 1950 had been accused of sexual abuse or misconduct involving a minor.
Despite the fact that the landmark report was published more than a decade ago, clergy sexual abuse appears to still be an issue in communities across the country. This unfortunate truth was amplified on a global level, after the film “Spotlight” – which detailed the extent that the Catholic Church went to in order to cover-up sexual abuse in its ranks – took home Best Picture honors at the Academy Awards in February 2016.
Additionally, a Pennsylvania grand jury recently detailed in a March 2016 report revealing that the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in Pennsylvania engaged in a widespread cover-up of minor sexual abuse cases – a case that is believed to involve as many as 50 church officials.
Dealing with Clergy Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, such findings do little for victims, who are too often left with a heavy emotional, physical or psychological burden at the hands of their abuser. Despite understanding that clergy abuse exists, many such cases go unreported, or are only reported much later in life.
Such was the case in Pennsylvania, with more than 250 clergy abuse survivors and tipsters calling a hotline set up by state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane in the wake of the grand jury report.
This unfortunate trend is nothing new when it comes to sexual assault or abuse cases, especially those involving children. Even cases not involving clergy continue to go unreported at alarmingly high rates, despite the existence of several statutes that require the timely reporting of any and all sexual abuse against minor children.
When Are Others Required to Report Abuse?
Many states have laws on the books that require reporting of child abuse, including clergy sexual abuse. Texas is one such state, and requires that “professionals” report the abuse of a minor to the proper authorities if they fall under any of the following categories:
- Employees of state-licensed organizations that involve direct contact with children
- Day care workers
- Mental health professionals
Additionally, according to Texas’ Family Code, an individual may be charged with a crime if they were previously aware of, or had reason to suspect, that a minor has or is experiencing sexual abuse, yet failed to report it.
For some victims, knowing that there is a place to turn where someone is required to take abuse allegations seriously can be some comfort. However, often that is easier said than done.
Finding Help You Can Trust
Unfortunately, the heinous nature of this type of crime means that there are individuals who will go to any lengths to cover up any incriminating allegations, as has been seen in these high profile cases across the nation.
Despite that fact, one of the safest places a victim can turn to, aside from the proper authorities, is a qualified attorney. Not only are all conversations with your attorney confidential – an attorney who specializes in this area of law can help bring your abuser(s) to justice.
In Texas and New Mexico, there are attorneys who specialize in handling sexual abuse, assault, or molestation cases, including those involving minors and members of the clergy.
If you or someone you love has experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a member of the clergy, or if you suspect that someone may a victim of abuse, it is critical that you seek the counsel of a skilled attorney as soon as possible.
Contacting an Attorney in Texas or New Mexico
For the good people in the El Paso, Texas area, or in parts of New Mexico, the attorneys at Gilstrap & Associates, P.C. can serve as your legal advocate against your abuser. Over the course of the last 20-plus years, our firm has handled approximately 40 cases involving clergy abuse. That means that our team of talented attorneys not only possess the legal knowledge necessary to oversee your case, our experience is unparalleled.
From the beginning, our team will work with you to conduct thorough investigations and devise a strategy that yields the best possible results. From gathering evidence to assisting with your medical or psychological welfare needs, our team is here to support you and the ones you love.
Our attorneys can help you find the justice you deserve. To schedule a complimentary preliminary consultation to assess your case, call the law office of Gilstrap & Associates P.C. at (915) 581-0020.