The International Churches of Christ (ICOC) is facing a series of lawsuits that allege child sexual abuse and cover-ups within the organization. The Guardian reported in mid-March that five women have filed lawsuits against the religious group in California, with accusations ranging from sexual assault to rape of minors, and claims of a conspiracy to protect abusers within the organization. The lawsuits also accuse the Los Angeles-based church leaders of enabling abusers by allowing them to continue to serve in the ministry and failing to notify the authorities after they were made aware of the abuse, which is their legal obligation, regardless of whether there’s evidence to back up the claim.
According to the report, the International Churches of Christ is a fast-growing evangelical Christian organization with about 118,000 congregants. Currently, there are over 100 alleged victims who have identified themselves, but the expectation is that hundreds more will continue to come forward. The allegations of sexual abuse and cover-ups within the organization have cast a shadow on its reputation and raised questions about accountability and transparency in religious institutions. Additionally, those who participated in and enabled child sexual abuse like this need to be held accountable. The church is where people go to find spiritual guidance and seek community. It’s a place where they should feel safe and heard. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
The prevalence of child sexual abuse in the Catholic church
According to a report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which studied cases of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States between 1950 and 2002, there were approximately 4,392 priests accused of sexually abusing minors during this time period, which made up about 4.3% of all active priests at the time. While the report found that the abuse was most prevalent during the 1960s and 1970s, there was still a significant amount of abuse that happened later on. It may not come as a shock, but 143 of those priests were found to have allegations in more than one diocese, eparchy or religious community. This likely means that after they were caught in one church community, they were moved to another one to keep the situation quiet rather than reporting them to the authorities to be stopped. What’s even more disheartening is that of the 10,667 children who were allegedly abused, 17.2% of them also had siblings who experienced the same.
More recently, that same study was reopened and expanded upon. While it confirmed there was a peak of reported abuse in the 1970s, the total number has continued to decline. However, there is a history of peaks and valleys in the statistics which researchers believe is a gap from when the actual abuse occurred to when it was actually reported. In fact, this study proves that 50% of people wait about 30 years before they report abuse.
A Los Angeles Child sexual abuse attorney can help with your case against religious institutions
If you or a loved one has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, it can be a traumatic experience that impacts your life in many ways. Since many people don’t often report the abuse for decades, they continue to live with a weight on their shoulders—and that should not be the case. Seeking legal help can be the first step in finding justice and healing. Here are some ways a Los Angeles child sexual abuse attorney can help win a case for victims:
- Expertise: An experienced attorney who specializes in childhood sexual abuse cases has the knowledge and skills to navigate the legal system and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. The Catholic Church has a history of dismissing those who disclose abuse and covering up cases like these. Without the help of an experienced Los Angeles attorney, it can be a difficult road.
- Resources: A reputable attorney can provide access to a team of experts such as psychologists, investigators, and medical professionals who can help build a strong case and prove that you are a true victim.
- Guidance and support: An attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the legal process, ensuring that victims are informed of their legal rights and options. Often, these cases can be emotionally taxing, and navigating the legal process alone can be overwhelming. Throughout the process, a child sexual assault attorney can help by providing clear and concise information on the legal rights and options available.
- Compensation: Victims of childhood sexual abuse may be entitled to compensation for their physical and emotional pain and suffering. The awards can help victims cover the costs of therapy, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Working with financial and medical experts to assess the full extent of the damages will also help ensure that victims receive the maximum compensation they are entitled to. Additionally, an attorney can negotiate with insurance companies, religious organizations, or other responsible parties to secure a settlement that reflects the severity of the abuse and its impact on the victim’s life.
- Closure: Additionally, an attorney can help ensure that the victim’s voice is heard and their story is told. Winning a legal case of this magnitude can provide a sense of closure for victims and their families, allowing them to move forward with their lives in a positive way.
The sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church is a tragic and devastating reality that has affected countless lives. By working with the experienced attorneys at Taylor & Ring, who specialize in childhood sexual abuse cases, you can increase your chances of getting the justice and compensation you deserve.
Our attorneys at Taylor & Ring have helped victims of religious sexual abuse in Los Angeles before—and we’ve won. With years of experience in litigating similar cases, our attorneys have the knowledge and resources needed to fight for the rights of victims and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free, confidential consultation. Please call our offices or fill out our contact form today.
John C. Taylor is one of the most accomplished and nationally recognized trial lawyers in California. The broad variety of cases he has tried during his career is matched by few attorneys, trying more than 125 cases to verdict, including: police shootings and civil rights, sexual abuse, serious personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, insurance bad faith, and employment.
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