Not a week goes by when we are not learning more information about the repercussions of child sexual abuse allegations on major organizations. In February 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in anticipation of lawsuit settlements. Now, the Diocese of Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy protection. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., our qualified and experienced Philadelphia sexual abuse attorneys are ready to help any victims of child sexual abuse secure justice and compensation for what has happened to them.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania influenced many investigations into Catholic dioceses across the country after state Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a grand jury inquiry into six dioceses, including the Harrisburg diocese, in 2018.
The Harrisburg diocese has since faced numerous lawsuits from victims of alleged child sexual abuse. The bankruptcy is an indication that they are in serious financial trouble due to these lawsuits. The bankruptcy proceedings will freeze lawsuits in the 15 counties that the diocese covers. This does not mean that victims will not be compensated for what happened to them. However, it does mean that victims will be compensated as part of the bankruptcy judge. Diocese in similar situations has established victim compensation funds as part of the bankruptcy process.
For comparison to other settlements, Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania have paid nearly $84million to 564 sexual abuse victims as of December 2019.
Across the United States, 20 Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy since 2004.
In August of 2019, nearly a year after The Pennsylvania grand jury report disclosed more than 70 years of sexual abuse allegations against 301 Catholic priests, the Pennsylvania Superior Court made it possible for some old claims of sexual abuse to go to a jury. The Superior Court decision upheld a prior opinion that allowed claims that fell outside of the statute of limitations to move forward.
Across the country, state governments are making it possible for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits against their abusers and anyone who covered up the abuse. It is becoming much better understood that victims of child sexual abuse suffer significantly throughout their lifetime. It is not reasonable to expect a child to fully understand what is happening to them when the abuse is occurring, and extending the statute of limitations is a way to recognize that abuse victims need our help.
If you or somebody you care about has been the victim of child sexual abuse, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. The team at Soloff & Zervanos, P.C. is ready to investigate every aspect of your case. Our goal is to secure any compensation you may be entitled to, which can include: