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Orange County Priest & Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer

If you want results, call us. If you want peace of mind, call us. If you want representation who understands the hardship that has been thrust upon you, call us.

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At DiMarco Araujo Montevideo, we understand the immense trauma associated with clergy abuse – and the lasting pain that may take years or even decades to heal. Our Orange County church abuse attorneys are here to help you during this trying time – you are not alone in recovering from such a life-altering experience. As one of Orange County’s most recognized law firms, we have the skill and resources to help you seek recovery – and the compassion and sympathy to support you through the healing process.

We Are Here for All Survivors of Orange County Clergy Abuse

We understand that feeling safe, supported, and listened to is the first step of the healing process – and financial compensation can help significantly with your closure and recovery. Our Orange County clergy abuse lawyers are specially equipped to help support you through this traumatic period.

  • Our personal injury lawyers have been a legal institution in Orange County for more than 35 years, assisting survivors of sexual abuse and other personal injuries with all their needs.
  • We take a trauma-informed approach to sexual abuse cases, ensuring we listen to all of your needs and concerns carefully and thoughtfully to fully inform our litigation process.
  • We have the resources to fully investigate your case, including close-knit connections with any pertinent industry experts necessary to help substantiate your case and maximize your recovery.
  • We are a law firm with extensive trial experience – we are not intimidated by larger corporations or organizations, and we will not hesitate to take a case to trial to hold them fully accountable for their despicable actions.

There have been a number of notable clergy abuse cases associated with the Diocese of Orange. If you are a survivor of acts of clergy abuse in Orange County or in any surrounding counties, please contact one of our priest or church abuse lawyers immediately to discuss your options. We may be able to secure significant closure and compensation for your injustice – regardless of how long it may have been since the incident.

What is Church Abuse?

Clergy or priest abuse is defined as any sexually inappropriate contact between someone within the clergy (typically in a leadership role) and a congregant, employee, student, or any other subordinate.

Although many think explicit physical contact qualifies as sexual abuse, it can also include more subtle forms of harassment, such as:

  • Any tickling or playful aggression that may make you feel uncomfortable
  • Inappropriate gifts from the clergy member in question, such as lingerie
  • Any physical contact that is prolonged for an abnormally extended amount of time
  • Innuendo and other sexually suggestive comments
  • Any conversations detailing the intimate details of you or the clergy members’ sexual relationships.

Any behavior that may be perceived to have sexual intent attached to it may be a sign of clergy abuse.

If you are unsure about whether or not you have been a victim of clergy abuse, and you feel comfortable enough to speak to someone about it, reach out to one of our Orange County church abuse attorneys to learn more.

Priest Abuse Has Occurred in Orange County for Decades

Sexual abuse by the Catholic Church has been a rampant worldwide issue for decades – and the recent bombshell grand jury report from Philadelphia has recently reignited the importance of such an issue in the public eye. Released in August 2018, the report details more than 300 priests in six Philadelphia dioceses accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children.

This comprehensive report has led to discussions and calls for action against clergy abuse in Southern California, which has had a similarly long, tragic history of abuse cases against minors and children.

The Catholic Diocese of Orange, in particular, has had a notable history regarding abuse. It was an important part of the previous Catholic abuse scandal in the United States, involving an extensive history of blatant clergy abuse – and efforts to hide any such claims.

  • In the 1980s, Bishop Michael Patrick Driscoll accepted and transferred priests who had multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Even though he was well aware of these claims, he failed to disclose their behavior in their roles – and may have enabled them to victimize children during their tenure.
  • In 1997, Bishop Tod Brown was accused of abusing a 12-year-old boy while he was a pastor in Bakersfield in 1965. His allegations were dismissed by the Church, and he continues to deny the claims.
  • In 2003, nine men filed a suit against the diocese for allegations of sexual assault against Michael A. Harris, their former principal at their Catholic high school. Both the LA and Orange dioceses ended up settling with one of the survivors for $5.2 million.

The largest settlement came in 2005, when Bishop Tod Brown announced a settlement of $100 million to 87 alleged survivors of clergy abuse by 30 priests, 2 nuns, 1 religious brother, and 10 lay personnel. According to Brown, incidents of clergy abuse occurred for decades – with 25 cases dating before the creation of the Diocese of Orange. This was the first California settlement as a result of the widespread Catholic abuse scandal.

Clergy Abuse Continues to Occur Without Accountability in Orange County

After these settlements, the Diocese of Orange promised absolute transparency into any of their priests suspected or accused of clergy abuse. However, a 60-page report released in December 2018 seems to indicate that this may not be the case.

The report, released by an advocacy group, compiles a list of 72 priests from the diocese of Orange that has been accused of abuse but has not been formally recognized by the Diocese for their potential criminal acts. The diocese itself claimed in 2016 that only 14 members of their Diocese were accused of sexual misconduct.

Our Orange County church abuse lawyers are personal advocates for those profoundly injured or otherwise traumatized by individuals and institutions, we can hold the Diocese of Orange responsible for their lack of trustworthiness and pursue compensation for you in a maximum capacity if necessary.

A Santa Ana Clergy Abuse Lawyer Can Help You Secure Compensation

Whether you are a recent survivor of clergy abuse or you suffered abuse as a child, you may nonetheless be able to file a claim for rightful compensation. The state of California employs a flexible statute of limitations for filing civil suits relating to sexual abuse. This is because any abuse or resulting psychological or emotional ramifications from childhood abuse may remain hidden for an extended period of time – the effects of abuse may also not resurface until much later in life.

The current statute of limitations offers several different periods of time in which a person can file a lawsuit. Essentially, California follows an eight-year and three-year period. This means:

  • If a survivor of abuse is a minor, they have until they are 26 years old – eight years after they are legal adults – to file a claim.
  • If a survivor of abuse is an adult that is much older than 26, they may still be able to file a lawsuit if they discover they have a psychological illness or injury associated to the abuse. From this date of discovery, they have three years.

However, even if you are past these time periods, you may still have grounds to file an eligible claim. This may only occur if the responsible institution was aware of the abuse occurring and failed to take reasonable actions or safeguards in order to prevent it.

If you are unsure about whether or not your statute of limitations has passed, contact a priest and church abuse lawyer in Orange County to learn more.

A Recent Bill May Extend the Statute of Limitations

In September of 2018, a bill was proposed that would significantly extend the statute of limitations for survivors of clergy abuse. If passed, Bill AB-3120 would give survivors until the age of 40 or 5 years from the date of discovery to file a claim against the alleged perpetrators. Additionally, this bill would also enable survivors to file claims against any liable organizations, such as the church or schools, for any damages.

Unfortunately, AB-3120 was vetoed in October – but there remains strong support for survivors of sexual abuse within the state government. It is very plausible that, with a new governor in the capital, a similar bill extending the statute of limitations may be proposed and passed recently.

In this case, it is highly recommended to retain the services of a sexual abuse lawyer as soon as possible to help take advantage of these new laws and recover the maximum possible compensation for your pain and suffering.

Let Us Help You Heal

Call us today for a free and confidential consultation and find out what we can do to help. The Orange County clergy abuse lawyers at DiMarco Araujo Montevideo are committed to assisting any and all survivors of clergy abuse seek justice for their inexcusable actions. The Diocese of Orange (and any other associated Dioceses) deserve to be held accountable for their actions, and we are ready to stand by your side and fight for you.