In recent years, the Catholic Church has been mired in scandals related to historic and ongoing cases of sexual abuse committed by members of its clergy worldwide. The organization’s past methods for silencing accusations of abuse committed by its employees, representatives, or affiliates have made it difficult to figure out just how many children and adults were assaulted. The number of priests, ministers, bishops, cardinals, deacons, and Catholic school teachers credibly accused of sexual abuse has only recently started to become clear.
As investigations continue throughout the world and the number of alleged abusers and victims continues to grow, a pattern of systemic negligence has revealed itself. An American probe into abuses committed by local dioceses uncovered documents held in secret archives corroborating victims’ horrific stories of being abused and illustrating an organized cover-up that, in some situations, extended all the way to the Vatican.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver has been accused of perpetuating the same kind of cover-ups for decades, engaging in a systemic pattern of secret-keeping that allowed abusers within their clergy to continue preying upon young and vulnerable parishioners in their care. In a recent report issued by the Vancouver Archdiocese, the results of an internal investigation were revealed, acknowledging that at least 36 cases of sexual assault were likely perpetrated by members of its clergy over the last 70 years.
The accusations against the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver allege that the organization was aware of sexual abuse taking place under the auspices of the Church but failed to properly respond to these serious accusations. The accusations assert that a culture of silence pervaded throughout the Archdiocese by actively burying complaints against clergy members, requiring victims to take oaths of secrecy, and threatening its own concerned clergy members with excommunication if they publicly revealed their concerns about the misconduct of other priests.
The accusations against the Vancouver Archdiocese have not yet been proven in court. However, if the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver did, in fact, turn a blind eye to the numerous horrific allegations of sexual abuse lobbied against members of their clergy, the organization may be considered systemically negligent and, therefore, liable for damages incurred by the victims they failed to protect from unthinkable abuse.
The Church is also likely “vicariously liable” for the abuse that clergy members and, employees, teachers or staff committed, which opens the door for survivors to receive compensation for their injuries.
Many Churches also have insurance policies that are able to respond and compensate survivors of sexual assault.
If you were sexually abused by an employee, representative, or affiliate of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, regardless of how far in the past your traumatizing experience occurred, you may be entitled to financial compensation. There is no limitation period for cases based on sexual assault.
There are different methods for pursuing legal action against the organization that failed to adequately respond to credible accusations of abuse. Continue reading to learn which option might be right for you.
The Drawbacks of Joining Class Action Lawsuits
In many situations, there is strength in numbers. People who decide to join a class action lawsuit often share this belief. But depending on the situation, joining a class action lawsuit may not be the fastest, most efficient, or most beneficial method of pursuing justice.
In a class action lawsuit, groups of people can pursue damages from a defendant as a collective. This collective of plaintiffs, referred to as a “class,” is often represented by one individual and their legal advocates.
Class action lawsuits can bring public attention to a case. When facing a large entity like the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, having a support system of people who have all been the victims of similar crimes can be heartening. The sheer number of people involved in the class action can direct the public’s attention to the overwhelming number of people impacted by the organization’s wrongful actions or inactions, thereby influencing the organization to change their practices in the future.
However, depending on certain factors, joining a class action lawsuit is usually not be the most advisable course of action for victims of historic sexual abuse. In fact, there are several drawbacks to joining class action lawsuits. These include:
The Benefits of Pursuing a Civil Claim
Each victim of sexual abuse is uniquely impacted by the trauma they endured individually. While people who were assaulted by representatives or employees affiliated with the same organization may have had similar experiences with similar repercussions, each person who suffered unthinkable abuse at the hands of trusted members of the clergy has suffered in their own way, and their trauma has had specific influences on their individual lives.
The victims of sexual abuse often develop severe issues related to their mental health, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They may have disruption at work, trouble following through on their career goals, finding they bounce around from job to job, trouble completing school, trouble with relationships and trusting people, and many other common symptoms. In their struggle to address overwhelming mental health condition, survivors of sexual abuse may develop self-destructive coping mechanisms, including alcohol and substance abuse. The emotional and psychological burden that sexual abuse survivors are forced to carry throughout their lives can, therefore, have real-world financial impacts for people who have been victimized, especially when comparing the careers they would have had if they never had been assaulted in the first place.
Additionally, survivors of sexual abuse may incur substantial financial losses related to psychological counselling, psychiatric treatment, prescription medication, and other expenses essential to their emotional recovery. Adequately addressing trauma from the past can take years of therapy, a necessary service that many survivors of sexual abuse often struggle to afford. Therefore, as the result of an abuser’s wrongful conduct, their victim could encounter years of financial instability.
If you were sexually abused by a clergy or lay person affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, by pursuing a civil claim, you may be able to recover the maximum settlement amount available to you. Our sexual abuse lawyers will quantify the total economic and non-economic damages you have incurred as a result of your abuse and work to ensure you receive every penny you are owed and to ensure that your compensation matches your particular injuries and losses.
Our law firm does not take on sexual assault class actions because we do not believe they provide most people with fair compensation or access to true justice. We are able to ensure our clients opt out of class actions so that we can pursue fulsome compensation on their behalf that is more tailored to their actual losses.
If an employee, affiliate, or representative of the Vancouver Archdiocese victimized you in the past, our Vancouver sexual abuse lawyers may be able to help you find the justice you deserve by pursuing a civil claim against your abuser and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver. To learn more about how our Vancouver sexual abuse lawyers may be able to help you, contact Preszler Injury Lawyers online or call 1-800-JUSTICE.