More than 400 victims recently filed claims of child sexual abuse against the Archdiocese in federal bankruptcy court. In this latest major lawsuit pertaining to child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is being held accountable. They now face hundreds of individual claims by former victims, alleging that they were sexually abused by members of the clergy as minors.
This case “represents the third highest number of claims filed against a Catholic institution in bankruptcy court.” The scope of this case is partially due to the size of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese, an organization that includes roughly 800,000 members throughout 12 counties.
However, another major factor that allowed Plaintiff’s lawyers to accumulate such a large number of claims against the Archdiocese relates to recent changes in state legislation benefitting victims of child sexual abuse.
In May of 2013, Minnesota’s state legislature passed the Child Victim Act, which expanded protections and extended the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse. Legislators wrote that they hoped passing this law would “increase survivor empowerment and help break the silence.”
Under Minnesota’s old child protection laws, victims that were abused as children could only file a legal claim against their abuser prior to their 24th birthday. This new version of the Child Victim Act allows former victims of child sexual abuse an additional three years to file a claim, even if they were over the age of 24 when the law was passed.
This law recognized that child sexual abuse is a traumatizing and life-altering event, and victims may be unwilling or unable to come forward and deal with these difficult realities until they have reached full adulthood. Expanding the statute of limitations for victims in Minnesota made it possible for hundreds of former victims to come forward and seek justice for the horrible crimes committed by their abusers. Minnesota was the fifth state to introduce this type of legislation encouraging former victims to come forward, and similar laws continue to be introduced in other states across the country.
At Nix, Patterson & Roach, Child Sexual Abuse law firm, it is our sincere hope that all victims of clergy sexual abuse and child sexual abuse, both current and past, are given the opportunity to raise their voice against their abuser, and can come forward to seek the justice they deserve.
Nix, Patterson & Roach fights hard to hold abusers accountable for their crimes. If you or a loved one was a victim of child sexual abuse by a teacher, clergy member, or any other adult in a position of power, contact Neil Smith at Nix, Patterson & Roach for help.
Child sexual abuse cases are complex, and the caring, experienced Child Sexual Abuse lawyers of Nix, Patterson & Roach will handle your claim with the utmost discretion, dedication and compassion.