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Church Abuse

Thomas J. Henry is Representing Victims Who Were Abused by Priests, Pastors, Clergy, and Church Volunteers. Free, Confidential Consultations are Available 24/7, Including Nights and Weekends.

There are an estimated 39 million survivors of sexual child abuse in the United States today. The vast majority of these survivors knew their abuser, and, in nearly every child sexual abuse case, the abuser had a position of authority over the victim. Some of the most heinous examples of this are the abuse committed by priests, pastors, and clergy members.

For decades, survivors of church abuse have been shamed, intimidated, deceived and otherwise manipulated into silence, but more abuse survivors are coming forward with their stories. Where corruption and cover-ups once left survivors with no hope for justice or restitution, the courage of victims has brought to light the epidemic of physical and sexual abuse not only in the Catholic Church but in churches across all denominations.

For too long, churches have covered for the predators in their midst. Abused children have been ignored, rejected, and revictimized by the individuals and organizations that were meant to guide them and keep them safe. Children were made to feel that no one would believe their claims of abuse or that they were somehow at fault for their abuser’s crimes. It is time to say, “No more!”

If you have suffered physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, a pastor, or any other member of a church, you deserve closure and justice. At Thomas J. Henry, we can provide you with the tools, resources, and representation to achieve both.

Church Abuse is a Bigger Problem Than Many Want to Admit

The sheer numbers behind clergy sexual abuse are alarming. So far, more than 18,000 abuse victims have come forward filing more than 3,000 civil lawsuits; however, this likely only represents a fraction of the real number of victims. Still, the world witnesses the impact of those who have come forward.

The Catholic Church, for example, has been rocked by allegations and convictions of sexual abuse committed by clergy members and volunteers and attempted cover-ups by church members.

As recently as December 2018, Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell, the third highest-ranking official in the Catholic Church, was convicted in an Australian court on what are called “historical” sexual abuse charges.

In November 2018, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Holy See were named as defendants in a class-action lawsuit accusing the Catholic Church of conspiracy and operating a continuing criminal enterprise under federal racketeering statutes. This lawsuit claims both the conference and the Holy See protected clergy instead of children, and created a culture in which rape and sexual abuse are “endemic, systemic, rampant, and pervasive.”

In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed that 300 priests in six Catholic dioceses in the state had been credibly accused of molesting more than 1,000 children. In October, Catholic dioceses announced they would also release names of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing minors with the Archdiocese of San Antonio, removing Father Edward Pavlicek based on a report of child sexual abuse it had received in August.

Can I Sue for Past Sexual Abuse?

It is the church’s responsibility to adequately supervise all of its members, whether they be priests, clergy, pastors, mentors, teachers, administrators, or volunteer members. Negligent supervision by the church may give rise to legal claims against the individual church as well as the larger religious institution under which it falls.

Bishop Accountability, a non-profit that seeks to document abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, found that as of August 2018, the Catholic Church alone had paid nearly $4 billion over sexual abuse claims. The largest known payout amounted over $600 million and was issued on behalf of 221 priests and church employees accused of abusing and victimizing more than 500 people.

According to Bishop Accountability, more than 5,679 persons alleging sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy have received settlements.

Payouts include:

  • $660 million by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (2007)
  • $198 million by the Diocese of San Diego (2007)
  • $100 million by the Diocese of Orange (2005)
  • $85 million by the Archdiocese of Boston (2003)
  • $60 million by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (2006)
  • $48 million by the Diocese of Spokane, Washington (2004)
  • $31 million by the Diocese of Dallas (1997)
  • $25.7 million by the Archdiocese of Louisville (2003)
  • $22.2 million by the Archdiocese of Tucson (2004)
  • $12 million by the Diocese of Charleston (2007)
  • $12 million by the Diocese of Charleston (2007)
  • $5.5 million by the Archdiocese of Denver (2008)

What Injuries Can I Sue For My Church Abuse Lawsuits

Because the injuries associated with child abuse are so broad and long-lasting, victims can sue for more than just the immediate injuries related to the physical act of abuse. In addition to physical injuries, the plaintiffs may seek compensation for damages associated with the mental and psychological anguish they continued to experience well after the initial assault.

Injuries often associated with child sexual abuse include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Flashbacks
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Dissociation
  • Substance Abuse
  • Self-Harm
  • Eating Disorders
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Attempted Suicide
  • Self-Mutilation
  • Sexual Dysfunction

What Legal Options Do I Have If I Was a Victim of Church Abuse?

If you were the victim of sexual or physical abuse by a member of a religious institution, you do not need to suffer in silence, nor do you need to face your abuser alone. At Thomas J. Henry, we have a team of attorneys, supporting staff, and legal experts ready to represent you. We represent people of any faith and investigate abuse within any religious institution, including:

  • Catholic Church
  • Protestant churches
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Judaism
  • Eastern Orthodox Church
  • Oriental Orthodoxy
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Seventh-Day Adventists
  • Evangelicals
  • Islam
  • Hinduism

Contact our attorneys for a free case review and to discuss your legal options with an experienced child abuse lawyer.

Were You the Victim of Church Abuse? Contact Thomas J. Henry Today

Thomas J. Henry’s firm is one of the largest plaintiffs’ firms in the country. The firm currently houses more than 135 attorneys and 350 supporting staff in eight office locations across Texas in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Austin, and Houston.

We are leaders in the field of personal injury and have helped countless child abuse and child injury victims. The firm has taken on numerous cases dealing with child abuse and molestation against individuals, daycares, businesses and organizations, including several against the Catholic Church.

In 2016, Thomas J. Henry pursued a high-profile case against the Archdiocese of San Antonio and now-deceased San Antonio clergy member Father Virgilio Elizondo. The lawsuit alleged Elizondo had sexually abused a young boy for years. Elizondo took his own life in March 2016 before he could be deposed.

Over the years, the firm’s founder, Thomas J. Henry, has donated to hundreds of children’s charities throughout the United States. In 2015, the Henry family partnered with ChildSafe, a San Antonio area organization that provides services to children and teenagers who have been traumatized by abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect. He provided the largest donation the organization has ever received.

In 2014, Thomas J. Henry publicly backed Nico LaHood in the hotly contested race for San Antonio District Attorney. LaHood ran on the platform of keeping children safe from physical and sexual abuse. Thomas J. Henry donated more than $1 million to his campaign.



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