The criminal justice system is far from perfect, and there are many instances in which victims who deserve justice never receive it. Thankfully, for certain types of crimes, the civil justice system is an additional way that victims can seek justice and restitution.
A recent example of an apparent criminal justice system failure is the prosecution of a former Philadelphia priest. The man was accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old altar boy nearly 18 years ago. He has been tried twice in the past year and juries in both cases failed to reach a verdict.
In both attempts, the juries reportedly had difficulty rendering a guilty verdict based almost entirely on testimony from the alleged victim. This week, the District Attorney's office announced that it has decided to drop the case and will not retry the 58-year-old priest. He no longer faces the threat of prison time.
It is unclear if the victim is seeking a separate civil lawsuit against the priest, or even if he has legal grounds to do so at this point. But many victims can and do file sex abuse lawsuits in addition to seeking criminal charges. Such lawsuits are an additional avenue for holding abusers accountable and helping victims obtain compensation that is both deserved and needed.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of child sex abuse, please do not suffer in silence or assume that it's too late to pursue justice. An experienced and compassionate crime victims' attorney can help you understand your rights and legal options.
Source: NBC Philadelphia, "Philadelphia Priest Accused of Sexually Assaulting Alter Boy Won't Be Retried," Joseph A. Slobodzian, April 10, 2015