To date, the San Jose Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church has released a list of at least16 of its priests who have credibly been accused of abusing children. The San Jose Diocese was formed in 1981, and the allegations of San Jose priest abuse have been ongoing for decades now. Added to the list were the names of another 23 non-diocese clergymen who served congregations in Santa Clara County. Most of them have either passed away or been removed from their positions. At this point in time, more than 6,000 clergy members of the Roman Catholic Church have had credible allegations of sexual abuse brought against them.
What Constitutes Priest or Clergy Abuse?
A clergy member is a person who has been given the authority by a Christian denomination to perform religious functions and rites. A Catholic priest would be a member of the clergy. Clergy abuse would occur when a member of the clergy uses force or their position of trust in non-consensual sexual behavior with another. Under California law, it’s impossible for a person under the age of 18 to consent to sex. Such abuse doesn’t necessarily require physical contact either. For example, it would include a priest exposing himself to a minor or taking and distributing sexually explicit photos of a minor.
Covering Up Priest Abuse
Accusations of priest sexual abuse go nearly as far back as the founding of the San Jose Diocese itself. What complicates and aggravates cases of priest sexual abuse is the fact that church officials who rank higher than priests have been accused in participating in covering up these crimes. For example, allegations have not been internally or otherwise reported by diocese officials and priests who have been accused of abuse have been transferred to other churches.
The Statute of Limitations Issue
For priest and clergy sexual abuse survivors are eligible for compensation for the trauma that they endured from their experiences. Those who have not brought any allegations against a California priest or clergy member, often inquire into whether they can still do so and pursue such compensation. The general rule in California is that a victim of priest or clergy abuse has until the time that they reach the age of 40 to file an action for compensation, but there are exceptions to this rule. The major exception is that if the statute of limitations on a victim’s case has already expired, that individual can still bring a claim for compensation so long as it’s filed on or before December 31, 2022. This deadline appears to cover cases that had been previously dismissed because of a prior statute of limitations. Take notice that this is a strict deadline.
Other significant changes have also been made in the context the rights of victims of priest and clergy abuse. If you are a victim, you’re encouraged to consult with an experienced priest and clergy sex abuse lawyer at your earliest possible convenience. There is still time to bring a claim in California.