San Francisco Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers Handling Claims against Religious Leaders
Forcing religious organizations to take accountability for their actions and inaction
Religious institutions often feel like a home away from home. Your children make friends, learn about their faith, and begin to build their own sense of self. Houses of worship offer many people a sense of community and peace. When leaders or members take advantage of this trust, the betrayal can be doubly hard to take.
The trusted sexual abuse and assault attorneys at Taylor & Ring have been protecting the rights of San Francisco’s youngest citizens for decades. Our legal team understands the delicate nature of sexual abuse and assault of children and adult survivors by religious figures, and all of the pain that comes with finally opening up about it. Call us today for guidance on how to hold your abusers accountable to you both criminally and civilly.
Religious leaders failing to protect San Francisco children are equally responsible
The devastating truth is that no one – not even religious leaders – is beyond reproach when it comes to the sexual abuse and assault of children.
Once the allegations began to unfold the truth of the horrific sexual abuse and assaults that so many children have experienced at the hands of powerful clergymen, the floodgates gave way. For years, sexual crimes against children in places of worship have continued to be uncovered and there is no limit to how far reaching the abuse is. High ranking members of churches and other religious organizations where abuse occurred have taken deliberate steps to cover up the wrongdoing, hoping to preserve the reputation of their religious institutions. Because of this criminal interference, the full extent of the abuse may never come to light without adult survivors and child victims coming forward to seek justice.
Being a religious leader makes it easier to prey on children
By law, children cannot consent to sexual contact of any sort, which makes the contact undeniably illegal and unwanted. Because of their tender ages, children may not understand this and become easy targets for adults they view as authority figures, to confuse and manipulate their affections. The organization Darkness To Light reports that close to 60% of child sexual abuse victims were abused by someone highly trusted by their family.
Because a child’s natural inclination is to trust anyone from their place of worship to protect him or her, it becomes incredibly easy for clergy members to unsuspectingly begin to groom your child to quietly become an object of sexual abuse. Children naturally want to please and earn the respect of their elders by doing what is asked of them without question, and most children eagerly anticipate being made to feel special by an authority figure. Grooming behavior to pay attention to includes:
- Being given special privileges that other children don’t receive
- Giving your child preferential treatment
- Spending excessive time alone with your child
Grooming provides the abuser with unlimited opportunities to commit sexual assault and abuse while flying low under the radar after gaining your trust. The perpetrator counts on the fact that you would never suspect that something criminal is going on.
If your child or an adult loved one has experienced a childhood sexual assault through a religious affiliation, our attorneys want to you to understand that you are not at fault and that we will help you hold the perpetrators legally responsible.
Sexual abuse has life-long consequences for children and adult survivors
There is no adequate description for the feelings someone experiences after being sexually abused or assaulted as a child. No matter whether you are an adult survivor or a child victim, you are all entitled to justice. Struggling with the flood of emotions takes its toll when you feel:
- Guilt about the abuse and assault
- Doubt about your self-worth
- Anxiety and depression
- Unclear about personal boundaries
You need to know that these feelings can be managed with the right resources and you can see the brighter side of life again. Standing up and choosing to take your life back can be a powerful emotion – one that you deserve to feel. You can decide to tell your abuser something that you had no power to say as a child: “No.” Our compassionate child sexual abuse and assault attorneys will be here to listen and guide you when you are ready to take the first step and call us.
Take back control if you were sexually abused by members of your place of worship
Cultivating a society of secrecy geared toward protecting the reputation of churches and sanctity of religion is a way of life for religious organizations. For decades, those who held the highest positions in religious institutions were aware of the sexual abuse and sexual assault of children in their congregations taking place by clergy members, staff members, volunteers and others in the church. Often times a shell game was played of moving these offenders to other dioceses to hide them from potential prosecution and to maintain the pious appearance of the church.
If you have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, rabbi, or other religious figure, follow these initial steps:
- For recent sexual assaults, immediately take the victim to a hospital equipped to perform a sexual assault forensic exam. These medical centers are trained to sensitively handle traumas while obtaining critical evidence to increase the likelihood of a successful prosecution of the perpetrator.
- Immediately notify law enforcement of the assault or abuse and provide as much detail about the attack and attacker as possible. Many police departments have officers trained to take reports from children in order to obtain the information needed to investigate and arrest the attacker. Do not discuss the event with anyone at the religious organization as you may be giving them time to counteract an investigation by destroying or hiding evidence.
- Arrange for a legal consultation with an experienced San Francisco sexual assault and abuse attorney who can advise you on the best course of action in a considerate and respectful manner.
- Schedule a consultation with a mental health professional who specializes in child sexual assault and abuse for victims or survivors to help you navigate through your emotions and begin to heal.
To learn more about how to hold your abuser accountable, we invite you to take a look at the sexual abuse laws in California.
Tough advocacy for sexual assault survivors in San Francisco
At Taylor & Ring, our attorneys strongly believe that you deserve to be compensated for the cataclysmic abuse that stole your childhood, your trust, your faith, and damaged your psychological wellbeing. If you or a loved one have been sexually abused or assaulted in a San Francisco religious institution, or at the hands of its leaders or staff, we want to hear your story and help you begin to recover. Talk to our attorneys today at 310-776-6390 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.