Just recently, it has become more apparent just how serious the sex crimes and abuse cases against the Catholic church are. Since the public eye has turned onto priests in the Catholic church, multiple churches across the US and in many other countries have brought to light countless sexual abuse allegations and records against priests.
These sexual abuse allegations not only occurred by were set aside with no further action.A church in Texas even released a sickening amount of almost 300 names, some of which came from church records that are nearly eight decades old.
In any other setting, a sex crime would be taken much more seriously and would almost certainly put the accused on trial. This begs the question of where the “separation of church and state” stands. The church should not be allowed to hide the occurrence of situations like this; however, changes are already being made.
Changes Made by Pope Francis
Noone is completely sure why it has taken so long to take action against these offenses, but thankfully, due to pressure from the public,Pope Francis is doing something about it now. Just this year, the Pope put into effect the first law against sexual abuse in the Catholic church. This law requires the officials of all Roman Catholic churches to report cases of clergy sexual abuse to their superiors. It also places a limit on how long an investigation into a sexual abuse claim can go on. An investigation must come to a reasonable conclusion within 90 days of the initial accusation.
Previously, the Catholic churches had no procedure put into place for sex abuse crimes. Verbal accusations were simply set aside and went unnoticed in smaller Catholic churches.
USC Gynecologist Lawsuit
The Catholic church isn’t the only instance of a massive amount of sexual abuse claims becoming exposed in a short amount of time.
You may have heard of the USC gynecologist lawsuit that was all over the news for a while. If you don’t know much about it, here’s a little summary -Dr George Tyndall was a gynecologist at the University of Southern California who became the accused in a sexual abuse lawsuit that stated he had sexually abused or harassed at least 200 female students over years of work.
The biggest problem, in this case, was that the school hid years of student complaints about him and took no further action. If things were different, they could’ve prevented him from harming any more women and possibly put him in jail for the victims he already hurt up to that point. The USC president, C. L. Max Nikias, agreed to step down due to this concealment.
Both the Catholic church and USC hid sexual abuse claims from the public and from the law itself. This seems to be the case with most sexual abuse cases, but the norm is starting to change for the better.
Sex abuse crimes are a serious criminal offense and cause significant mental problems in the victim. It can cause anxiety, PTSD, flashbacks, depression, and in some cases, suicide. Unfortunately, sexual abuse happens all the time, usually in the least expected places.
You might think that the Catholic church would be the last place for sexual abuse to occur, but it’s probably the most common. People overlook other people or places that they consider safe in their mind when, in reality, anyone could be dangerous, especially if you don’t know them personally. Never put your child in the hands of someone you just met unless someone close to you can 100% vouch for them.
Definition of Sexual Abuse
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Law, “sexual abuse” is defined as:
- “The infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion”
- In the case of adolescents, it is: “the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent…”
Sexual Abuse Lawyers
If you think you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse, don’t be afraid to get legal help. There are many resources you can reach out to that will help you mentally recover from the experience and to press charges against the assailant. You might try setting up an appointment with a therapist as well as with a sexual abuse lawyer. Use the resource links at the bottom of this article to help you find the right people.
Never stay in contact with the person who sexually abused you. You should also consider getting a restraining order against them even if you were unable to get them incarcerated. A sexual abuse lawyer will also help with the restraining order process. It is usually easy and straightforward to get a restraining order since it simply prevents further contact between the accused and the accuser.
Statutes of Limitations on Sexual Abuse
The statutes of limitations on sexual abuse go by state. Click here to access a state law database for information on the statutes of limitations in your state. To use the database, you will have to select your state and the box marked “sex crimes: definitions and penalties”.
Connecticut’s statute of limitations on sexual abuse, for example, depends on three things:
- Particular crime charged
- Whether the victim was a minor
- If there was DNA evidence present
Helpful Resources for Victims of Sexual Abuse:
Taken from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline
- If you have been the victim of sexual abuse or assault, you can call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to put you in contact with a local sexual assault service provider that can help you.
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
- National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women
If you are a victim that is struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts due to sexual abuse or assault, don’t suppress your feelings, reach out for help.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone because doing anything drastic.