- Practice Areas
Our attorneys have been assisting the Orange County and Southern California communities for over 40 years.
Many psychologists say there are basically seven types of clergy sexual abuse. If you were a victim of such abuse, a clergy abuse attorney may be able to obtain both compensation and justice. The compensation in these cases usually includes money for economic losses, such as therapy expenses, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Perhaps more importantly, these claims bring things which occurred in darkness into the light.
Surprisingly, one of the most common forms of clergy sexual abuse has nothing to do with physical contact. Often, a therapist, like a pastor, encourages the patient to transfer inadequacy, anger, and other negative feelings onto the therapist. This process helps heal the victim.
But such interaction often goes too far, and many clergy cross the line to sexual grooming. This process, which often takes place over weeks, months, or years, prepares potential victims for future abuse.
Grooming is also one of the most common kinds of clergy sexual abuse. Because it closely mimics normal counsellor-counselee interaction, it is relatively hard for outsiders to detect.
Inappropriate touching clearly constitutes molestation. Additionally, repeated touches are almost always intentional, especially if the parishioner has mentioned the issue to the pastor. Molestation may also be more subtle. For example, a close hug could be considered molestation if a brief hug would have been more appropriate.
This form of molestation is a bit different, mostly because of the psychological effect it has on the victim. Many same-sex molestation victims blame themselves for the attack. They feel they should have been “strong enough” to fend off the assault.
This broad category includes both physical and verbal abuse. There is one common denominator. The abuser is almost always an older person, or someone in a position of power.
Actions or words alone do not constitute sexual abuse. The victim must also prove that the abuser acted in such a way to satisfy his or her own sexual needs. In civil court, victims must normally prove facts like these by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Any sexual contact between clergy and parishioner is not consensual, in most cases. There is such an uneven distribution of psychological power, and the parishioner is in such a vulnerable position, that meaningful consent is legally impossible. That’s the legal principle behind California’s statutory rape laws, and it applies in this context as well.
Rape often involves some element of deception as well. For example, the pastor may say something like “God brought us together” or “Love between two people is never wrong.”
Many times, perpetrators move very gradually in these situations. A few minutes of intimate conversation before or after a session leads to greater interaction. Later, as the relationship grows, the perpetrator takes full advantage of the relationship.
Much like same-sex molestation, many date rape victims feel like the incident was somehow their fault.
Alcohol is, by far, the leading date rape drug. It is easy to acquire, very potent, and easy to administer. In any context, alcohol is especially dangerous to minors.
Most gifts are intimate and personal exchanges between two people.
So, many gifts are clearly inappropriate. That’s especially true regarding things like swimsuits, perfume, lotion, and other things that make the recipient feel uncomfortable.