Gilman Law, LLP is a leading Florida personal injury attorney that offers professional and compassionate representation to victims of clergy sexual abuse. The behavioral consequences of sexual abuse by a clergy member can be more severe than the aftereffects of more common forms of sexual abuse. Many people of faith view their clergy members as a direct link to God, which makes it even more difficult to report or recover from this kind of abuse. However, reporting clergy abuse and holding those responsible accountable is one of the most important things victims can do to regain control of their lives. If you or a loved one were abused in Florida at the hands of a priest, rabbi, minister or other trusted member of the clergy, Gilman Law’s Clergy Abuse lawyers may be able to help you recover damages from the people and religious institutions that allowed clergy abuse to go unchecked.
Clergy Abuse is a form of professional sexual exploitation misconduct. Clergy sexual abuse has been reported in almost every major religion, and has involved Roman Catholic Priests, Orthodox Jewish Rabbis, Protestant Ministers, and other religious leaders who profess to be doing the work of God. Unfortunately, Florida has a terrible distinction of being a state with one of the highest number of reported clergy abuse cases. In Florida alone, over 75 members of the clergy have been accused of sexual abuse and tens of millions of dollars have been distributed in settlement agreements to survivors of that abuse.
Professional sexual misconduct is defined as overt or covert expression by the clergyperson toward the congregational member of erotic or romantic thoughts, feelings, or gestures that are sexual or may be reasonably construed by the congregant as sexual. Sexual offense is a direct or indirect attempt by the religious leader to touch or make contact inappropriately with any anatomic area of the congregants body commonly considered reproductive or sexual. Offense also includes any efforts made to have the congregational member make contact with these same anatomic areas on the clergyperson. The array of conduct that is considered exploitation includes sexual innuendoes, derogatory comments, verbal or physical improprieties, erotically charged encounters with present or former congregants in or out of the sanctuary or office, overt sexual activity, and abuse through perpetration analogous with rape or molestation.
For years, churches and other religious institutions were able to successfully hide clergy sexual abuse. Victims, especially children, are often afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, due to shame and fears that they would be blamed for the abuse. In many cases, when abuse is reported, religious leaders try to cover it up. It is a common practice to reassign accused clergy to other churches and/or organizations. Victims have also been intimidated into keeping quiet about the abuse.
Florida Sexual Abuse Laws
Like most states, Florida has a statute of limitations that covers civil lawsuits based on sexual abuse claims. In Florida, victims who want to recover civil damages for sexual abuse must make their claims within:
- 7 years of the victim turning 18
- 4 years of the victim leaving the dependency of the abuser
- 4 years from the time of the victim’s discovery of abuse (for cases involving repressed memories and traumatic amnesia)
If you are considering filing a clergy abuse lawsuit in Florida, you need to keep these deadlines in mind. It is important to contact one of the experienced Clergy Abuse Attorneys at Gilman Law as soon as possible so that your case is not time-barred by these statutes of limitations.
Legal Help for Victims of Clergy Abuse
If you or a loved one has been a victim of clergy abuse in Florida, Gilman Law can help. Please fill out the online form for a free lawsuit case evaluation by a qualified attorney or call 1-888-252-0048.