Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has long had a reputation for not handling sexual abuse by its clergy in an acceptable fashion. There are articles, movies, and books that have been released concerning priests molesting children, as well as the church’s efforts to conceal the abuse. Several lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic Dioceses due to knowingly putting congregants at risk for sexual abuse and failing to warn victims.

The Catholic church is not the only religious organization guilty of hiding suspected and proven sexual abuse. The Protestant church is also guilty of moving abusers to other congregations and failing to warn members of the dangers of interacting with an abuser.

How Common Is Sexual Abuse in the Protestant Church?

A recent study sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources reveals that 10% of Protestants under the age of 35 have left the church previously because they felt that sexual abuse and misconduct were not taken seriously by the church. This is is twice any many people as the 5% of churchgoers from any religion who have walked away due to the mishandling of sexual abuse. Among younger people, 9%stated that they were no longer attending their former church because they did not feel protected from sexual misconduct.

Churchgoers between the ages of 18 to 34 are more likely than older churchgoers to report sexual abuse or harassment at church. Twenty-three percent of parishioners also know more people in their congregation who are victims.

More On Sexual Abuse in Protestant Churches

More than 375 leaders and volunteers in the Southern Baptist church have been charged with some form of sexual misconduct over the past 12 years. Over 200 of these volunteers and leaders pled guilty or were convicted for their crimes. However, the Southern Baptist Convention will not take significant steps to stop abuse in churches, claiming that each church should act independently to tend to this matter. As a result, several pastors and leaders who are registered sex offenders or accused of sexual misconduct are permitted to maintain their position in the church. However, the Southern Baptist church has taken active steps to stop gay or female pastors from leading in the church. This indicates that the church cares more about excluded female or homosexual pastors from attaining leadership positions than addressing the matter of sexual abuse.

Several victims were pressured by their church leaders not to report sexual abuse. In some cases, victims were told that they brought on the abuse because of their sinful nature.

Suing for Sexual Abuse

It is the responsibility of the church to supervise staff members, volunteers, and pastors. If the church fails to do this, a victim can file a negligent supervision claim in addition to a claim against the sexual predator. It is important to find an attorney who will represent victims from a variety of religious organization, including:

  • all Protestant churches
  • the Catholic church
  • Mormon churches
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Islam mosques
  • Hindu temples
  • non-denominational churches
  • Jewish synagogues

In some states, a victim can file a claim for child sexual abuse or assault until they are 33 years old. If the abuse occurred when the victim was an adult, the plaintiff has five years to file a claim. However, the time to file a claim against a third party or employer could be shorter.

Bottom Line

Sexual abuse lawsuits are best handled by qualified attorneys with experience in this area. It is important to share as many details as possible with your lawyer to present a clear case in court. The sooner you report sexual abuse, the more details you will remember, which can help you get the settlement you deserve.


Wilma Wiliams

Wilma Wiliams is a law school graduate and a part-time freelance blogger, focused on various legal topics such as personal injury, and bankruptcy. She’s passionate about educating the public on fighting...

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