Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyer
Sexual abuse allegations have rocked many religious organizations throughout the United States over the last few decades. Most of these allegations center on sexual actions taken by members of the clergy towards teenagers and young children. Many religious institutions have actively worked to cover up the number of allegations they face. They have even allowed those accused of sexual abuse of children to remain active clergy members.
At Heenan & Cook, PLLC, we are ready to help any victim of child sexual abuse recover the compensation they are entitled to through legal action.
How Will Heenan & Cook, PLLC Help This Case?
If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse, you need to secure an attorney with vast experience handling these types of cases. At Heenan & Cook, PLLC, we are ready to help.
- Our attorneys are fully dedicated to each client, and we take the time to listen to their story formulate a strategy that meets their needs.
- We conduct full investigations into each case that we take so we can confidently proceed forward in negotiations or a trial.
- Our firm takes child sexual abuse cases on a contingency fee basis, which means our client owe no legal fees until we secure the compensation they need through a settlement or verdict.
Understanding the Clergy Abuse Problem
Sexual abuse can have dramatic effects on sexual abuse survivors of the abuse while they are still children as well as into adulthood. Members of the clergy are in positions of trust, and a violation of that trust caused by sexual abuse is abhorrent. Sexual abuse survivors often experience physical, sexual, psychological, and behavioral symptoms that can affect their everyday lives.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Montana Sexual Abuse Cases?
A recent change to Montana’s child clergy sexual abuse laws has lifted the statute of limitations for prosecuting such crimes. The bill was signed by Gov. Steve Bullock and took effect in May of 2019. Part of this law included opening a one-year window of opportunity for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits against their abuser, even if the statute of limitations has otherwise expired.
- Please note that this one-year lookback period will expire on May 6, 2020, and has various stipulations in place. Please speak to your Montana child sexual abuse attorney for guidance.
In Montana, all victims of child clergy sexual abuse have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit against their abuser. This includes whichever expires later out of the following:
- A 9-year window from the age a victim turns 18 through the age of 27.
- A victim has three years to bring civil sexual abuse claims against the perpetrators of their abuse beginning from the date the victim discovers the abuse occurred or from when the victim should reasonably have discovered an injury caused by the act of childhood sexual abuse.
What Kind of Compensation Are Victims Entitled To?
If you or somebody you love has been sexually abused by a member of the clergy, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Heenan & Cook, PLLC, we are dedicated to helping sexual abuse survivors recover the compensation they deserve. This can include:
- Pain and suffering damages
- Compensation for any counseling that is necessary
- Punitive damages against the perpetrator(s) of the abuse
- Punitive damages against any organization that covered up the abuse
How Are Pain & Suffering Damages Calculated for a Sex Abuse Case?
While no amount of money will ever properly compensate someone for the pain and suffering they experience as a result of a sexual assault, recoverable damages can help bring closure and some semblance of peace. Not only can compensation in a sexual assault lawsuit provide the resources for proper emotional and psychological therapy, but it can also help the victim and the broader community feel that justice has been delivered. Pain and suffering damages are notoriously difficult to calculate in any personal injury case, and that is certainly true for cases stemming from a sexual assault. Despite the difficulty in securing proper compensation in these cases, large settlements have been awarded to child sex abuse survivors in Montana and throughout the US over the last few years. Most readers will be familiar with major cases against religious organizations, sports institutions, schools, etc. While only the most high-profile cases make it onto your nightly news stations, that does not mean that lower-profile cases do not result in settlements for child victims. It is not uncommon for sexual assault victims to be awarded pain and suffering damages from negligent property owners, local schools, smaller churches, and sports leagues. We want to emphatically state that you need to work with sexual abuse attorneys for these cases. Our Montana sexual abuse lawyers will have the resources to properly calculate the total pain and suffering damages that sexual abuse survivors are entitled to. There is immense damage caused to a victim of sexual assault that does not necessarily come with an actual dollar value. The level of a victim’s pain and suffering does not have bills or receipts. These non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Reputational damage
- Loss of consortium
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The process of determining the value of these damages can vary. It is up to the plaintiff (the sexual assault victim) to come up with convincing proof of how significantly they have been affected by the sexual abuse. Precedents in similar cases can play a significant role in establishing norms for certain types of damages in these cases. The most common way to prove non-economic damages in a sexual assault case is to use an expert witness (or witnesses) who can provide opinions for the case. For example, an expert psychological witness who specializes in sexual assaults can provide testimony and analyze the state of mind of a person who has been assaulted. They can examine the victim and determine whether they have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other psychological symptoms that could affect them for the rest of their lives. To be clear, your sexual assault lawyer in Montana will have the resources and network necessary to help you establish proof of your pain and suffering following a sexual assault. You do not have to go through this alone. When you need a clergy sex abuse attorney in Billings, you can contact us online for a free consultation or by calling (406) 839-9091.