Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys in St. Louis
Over the past several years, the Missouri dioceses has released the names of priests serving Roman Catholic parishioners in this state who were credibly accused of sexually assaulting innocent kids and adults. Many of the victims were prepubescent when the sexual abuse happened. Parents innocently trusted the Catholic Church to maintain a safe environment for their children. Instead, they suffered abuse at the hands of priests or other church staff.
Every victim has felt deceived by the minister, priest, pastor, bishop, brother, sister, deacon, or teacher who so callously abused them and burned their spiritual bond and trust. Many survivors went on to suffer a lifetime of failed relationships, trust problems, continuous shame, self-abuse, and self-destructive behavior.
Some sexual abuse survivors often cannot speak up about the horrific assault they experienced until months or even years after the fact. If you are just starting to speak out about what happened to you or have a loved one who is, we are here for you.
Our compassionate team of St. Louis clergy sexual abuse lawyers and staff will fight to protect your rights. We will provide a safe place to talk about everything you suffered and who is responsible. Our clergy sexual abuse lawyers are here to genuinely listen to your story. We have a thorough understanding of Missouri tort law and can use the legal system to ensure the person who harmed you faces the consequences they deserve for their abhorrent actions.
Suppose you or a loved one is or was involved with one of the numerous Catholic churches in the St. Louis metro area. In that case, you may be wondering what your rights are regarding clergy sexual abuse. At the Dixon Injury Firm, we will not only advise you of your rights but encourage you to exercise them and support you as you do.
The Church puts clergy and other leaders in positions of power and trust. Those both in and outside the Church trust them to act for the betterment of the Church, its members, and the world. Unfortunately, for decades many clergy members have been doing quite the opposite. They are taking advantage of those entrusted to their care and turning their lives upside down.
Local St. Louis Clergy Abusers
Thankfully, many clergy members who have committed child sexual abuse have been caught and are no longer working in the Church or with children.
Some of the accused abusers from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis include:
- Br. Felix Bland
- Deacon Carl Beckman
- Fr. Donald G. Brinkman
- Fr. John Robert Campbell
- Fr. Charles M. DeGuire
- Fr. Xiu Hui Jiang
- Seminarian Francis J. Kegel
- Fr. Bryan M. Kuchar
- Br. Harold J. Lootens
- Fr. Michael S. McGrath
- Fr. Donald J. Straub
- Br. Gregory J. Sutton
- Fr. Maximilian Toczylowski
- Fr. William F. Vatterott
The accused abusers from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois include:
- Fr. Ralph Herbert Adair
- Fr. Alvin L. Campbell
- Fr. Joseph D. Cernich
- Fr. Garrett Neal Dee
- Fr. Joseph Havey
- Fr. George Kromenaker
- Fr. Joseph C. O’Brien
- Fr. Walter M. Weerts
These names are just a small sampling of those who have used their position and power to harm others in the Church, many of them victimizing children.
The Missouri Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, unlike other states, Missouri hasn’t adopted a statute giving a time frame for those who experienced child sexual abuse to sue even after the statute of limitations has lapsed. Under Missouri’s current statute of limitations, those who suffered from alleged abuse must file legal claims within a decade of their 18th birthday or within three years after finding out that they suffered a personal injury from the abuse.
Survivors Suffer Life-Long Consequences
Survivors of clergy sexual abuse often have trauma and scars from the abuse that they carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Years after the abuse has ended and well into adulthood, victims of clergy sexual abuse may suffer from:
- Mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, panic attacks, anxiety, difficulty regulating emotions such as anger and disappointment, suicidal ideations, and self-harm
- Substance abuse, which often serves as self-medication for abuse survivors, particularly those who have kept their histories of abuse to themselves for many years.
- Sexual disorders and problems, including hyposexuality (sexual avoidance), hypersexuality (sexual promiscuity), pain, and lack of arousal
- Relationship difficulties often involving intimacy and trust issues.
- Self-isolation, which for some victims will compound the ill-effects of their other struggles
Sadly, otherwise innocent and everyday things or activities can trigger survivors. “There are reminders all around,” says Tom Plante, a psychologist at Santa Clara University who studies clergy sex abuse. “Maybe you drive by a church, or you’re watching a movie, and a priest shows up in the movie, or you’re asked to attend a wedding or a funeral.”
Survivors of child clergy sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of St. Louis can overcome these issues, particularly with the help of trained mental health counselors and psychiatrists. Even still, many struggle to access the support and services they so desperately need—due to the cost and the heartache of telling their stories.
At the Dixon Injury Law Firm, we believe childhood clergy sex abuse survivors deserve the opportunity and financial support needed to seek the help that can address these issues. You can be sure that our team will never judge or look down on any sex abuse survivor. We are only here to support you and make your life better moving forward.
Problems with Employment and Finances
In the aftermath of the abuse suffered at the hands of a priest they trusted, victims may find it difficult to hold down a job due to their distrust or lack of respect for authority. Even though they may be far removed from the situation that caused them these problems, it can be hard to deal with anyone who has any kind of authority over them.
A recent paper on the lifetime financial burden of child sex abuse from Derek Brown of St. Louis’ Washington University is eye-opening.
Brown used factors such as medical care and quality of life to help portray the complete picture. Per individual, the loss averages over $80,000—a figure that doesn’t account for the loss of income. His research revealed that the economic effects of clergy childhood sexual abuse can average more than $300,000 per victim.
“You have a modest impact of a few thousand dollars a year for earnings, but that accumulates over the life cycle,” says Brown, “you have 40-plus years of those impacts for a victim.”
This doesn’t account for the alcohol or drugs a survivor may have consumed for many years to try to numb their pain.
Legal Options for Survivors
Sexual abuse is a crime for which clergy and the Catholic Church that employs them have legal and financial liability. Survivors of sexual abuse by a priest or other staff members within the Archdiocese of St. Louis often have many legal options to hold the at-fault parties accountable. We counsel our clients in these choices and pursue whatever available legal strategies best fit their needs and desires. It’s our job to present them with their options, and then our clients direct us on how to assist them.
The most common legal option available is usually filing a lawsuit against their abusers and the Church institutions that ignored, facilitated, enabled, or covered up the horrendous acts of abuse.
We know full well that no amount of money can erase the ever-present and invasive trauma of childhood sexual abuse by a clergy member. Compensation can, however, deliver much-needed financial support to survivors so that they can obtain appropriate care. For some survivors, it also acknowledges the damages done to them by a predator within the Catholic Church and those who allowed his conduct.
Every lawsuit we handle at Dixon Injury Firm has unique facts that determine the direction the case might take. As such, the types and amounts of compensation a survivor or their family member may have the right to receive will vary.
Typically, our efforts can often help secure monetary recovery to pay for:
- Medical expenses
- Mental health care
- Other expenses related to experiencing a history of priest abuse
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life tied to the acts of abuse
- The struggles of living and coping with the trauma
In some cases, the judge can also award punitive damages that punish and deter the conduct that created or allowed the sexual abuse. We will ask the judge to grant these in your case whenever appropriate.
While we can’t guarantee that our clients will recover compensation in any one case, we promise to commit 100 percent of our firm’s talents and resources to:
- Listening to survivors without judgment
- Serving their needs and interests
- Holding abusers and Church institutions liable whenever our clients ask
If you’ve been living with a terrible secret or recently found out someone you love has been, it can feel like your world is crashing down around you. You likely have many pressing questions. Your best source of answers is to call us today to schedule a confidential, complimentary case consultation. You will meet privately with a St. Louis clergy sexual abuse attorney to discuss your potential claim during this consultation. The attorney will answer your questions. In the meantime, here are some frequently asked questions our office receives.
How Big Is the Catholic Church in Missouri?
The Catholic Church is the single biggest religious group of all faiths in Missouri and has an over 350-year history in the area. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, three dioceses, and their Bishops manage over 475 parishes and more than 300 Catholic schools in Missouri. Hundreds of thousands of registered Catholics living in 114 Missouri counties benefit from the services they provide.
Unfortunately, this means many victims of clergy sex abuse.
It also means the church has deep pockets. It’s not afraid to spend its riches on lawyers to fight claims and defend sexual predators instead of compensating the vulnerable people it failed to protect.
You need the Dixon Injury Firm. We have the experience and resources to make an organization as big and powerful as the Catholic Church pay for how it often turned a blind eye to the sex abusers in its ranks. We can win justice for you.
How Long Will Your Claim Take to Resolve?
Every St. Louis clergy sexual abuse case is different. It can be challenging to determine from the beginning how long your case might take. Still, our St. Louis clergy sexual abuse lawyers can provide you with a typical estimate. You can expect at least a few months or possibly a year or more. Rest assured that we will do all we can to resolve your case promptly. However, we also want to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for the abuse you’ve suffered, which sometimes takes time.
Why Should You Hire a St. Louis Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorney?
If you are a clergy sexual abuse survivor, you need someone in your corner to advocate for you. You might have many emotions regarding your past. It can be challenging to process and manage those emotions while representing yourself in such a personal matter. We are here to help support you and direct your pursuit for justice. In general, those with legal counsel are more successful at getting the compensation they deserve from those who harmed them. Our attorneys will handle the details of your case while you focus on healing and recovering from the atrocities you’ve suffered.
Do You Need an Experienced St. Louis Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
Do you need an experienced St. Louis clergy sexual abuse attorney to help handle your claim? Look no further than the Dixon Injury Firm. We aren’t afraid to stand up to any church or clergy member to fight for your rights. You deserve compensation for all that you have endured and may continue to endure for the rest of your life. We work hard to get you the compensation you deserve, having already successfully garnered over $60 million in compensation for personal injury victims in the St. Louis area. Reach out to us today at (314) 208-2808 or contact us online to schedule your confidential case review with a well-versed St. Louis clergy sexual abuse attorney.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132