Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

1715.jpgSexual abuse and assault in the Phoenix area is a devastating crime and can affect the health of a victim for the rest of his or her lifetime. Victims of sexual abuse range in age from the very young to the very old and anyone can be a potential victim; unfortunately, many of those who are hurt come from the most vulnerable segments of our society. School children, those in daycare or who are cared for by adults without parental supervision, those who are physically disabled, and those who reside in nursing homes are some common victims of sexual assault.

Too often, these instances do not come to light immediately because victims fear what may happen if they report the conduct or because victims may not have an opportunity to report the wrongdoing. Aggressors may be in a position of power over a victim and this can further limit the victim’s ability to report. But victims of sexual abuse in Phoenix should know that they do not have to suffer alone and in silence because the law may be on their side. These victims may have the right to bring a civil claim against their abuser or against an entity who controlled the abuser and they may be able to recover for their damages. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer in Phoenix may help you understand your options if you have been victimized or if your loved one suffered sexual abuse.

A former teacher was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexual conduct with a minor, according to authorities. The defendant, a female former physical education teacher, was arrested initially in February 2013 following allegations by a former student of physical and sexual contact with the teacher.

In late 2012, a female victim reported to police and informed them that between 2005 and 2006, the victim was 12 years old and was a student at a Phoenix school where the defendant taught. The teacher allegedly became close with the student and on several occasions had the student over to her Mesa apartment where the defendant and victim engaged in sexual contact. The teacher was 36 years old at the time.

According to police, the former teacher admitted to the alleged contact when confronted with it and she was arrested and charged with the crime. As part of a recent plea deal, the defendant will face 20 years in prison and a lifetime on probation in addition to registering as a sexual offender.
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The $3.2 million settlement of a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Catholic church made news nationwide last week. Plaintiff lawyers at Abels & Annes P.C. and Hilfman & Martin, P.C. announced the settlement of the claim against the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago. The case involved the sexual abuse of a minor boy by former Rev. Daniel McCormack. $300,000 of the settlement is to be placed in escrow for services. The identity of the plaintiff and his family are confidential.

As the Washington Post reports, the case involved the sexual abuse of a boy by former Roman Catholic Priest Daniel McCormack.

The preteen victim in this case was one of five victims McCormack admitted to abusing when he pleaded guilty in 2007. He served half of a 5-year prison sentence and remains in a mental health facility under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act. The suit claimed church failed to keep McCormack away from children despite knowing he had sexually abused minors.

As we reported on our Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, Hilfman and Martin and Abels & Annes were the only law firms in McCormack litigation that took the depositions of many senior Archdiocese officials, including priests, seminary leaders and other key Archdiocese personnel.

The firms were able to reach the favorable settlement on behalf of the victim shortly before trial.

“Representing child victims of sexual abuse in cases against religious institutions, school districts, day care centers and other organizations that interface with children implicates complex and sensitive issues and requires a unique approach given the ages of our clients,” said David Abels, a partner at Abels & Annes. ” We are proud to work every day on their behalves to represent their interests and maximize rewards that, we feel, are deserved.”

The two firms continue to work with plaintiffs in other civil cases against the Chicago Archdiocese and the Cardinal. Those cases also involve the failure of church officials to timely remove McCormack from duties that provided him with access to children.

Click here to read the story as reported by the Sacramento Bee and the Chicago Tribune.
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Arizona sex abuse attorneys recently learned that a Missouri grand jury has indicted Robert Finn, the Catholic Bishop of Kansas City. Also indicted was the Catholic diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, this according to USA Today. The charges stem from church officials failing to notify proper authorities about sexual images of children found on a priest’s computer. Finn has pleaded not guilty to the allegation of failing to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor.

These allegations make the Kansas City Bishop the highest ranked Catholic church official in United States to be charged with a crime related to attempting to cover up alleged sexual abuse of a minor by a priest. Church officials have a duty under Missouri state law to report suspected abuse. The October 6 indictment alleges the Bishop and the diocese had reasonable cause to believe that priest had committed a form of sexual abuse against a child.

A U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spokesperson has said that they believe this is the first time a Bishop has been charged with this type of crime. The charge is a significant setback for the Catholic Church in its efforts to move past the sex abuse scandals of recent years, the Washington Post reported.

A Jackson County grand jury issued indictments after the US Department of Justice brought charges this year against Rev. Sean Ratigan for his alleged possession of child pornography. The prosecutor for the government’s case has said that the significance of the case against the Bishop should not be diminished because it’s a misdemeanor charge. Finn could possibly face up to one year in prison and a $1000 fine. $5000 is the maximum fine for a corporation.

The Washington Post went on to report that in December, 2010 school officials had notified diocese officials about concerns over Ratigan’s behavior with children, and that hundreds of images of children, some sexual, were found on his computer.

The Bishop has allegedly admitted that he was informed of the photos last year. The church failed to notify police of the alleged abuse and took no action until May, 2011, the same month the priest was criminally charged.

Whether the priest had ongoing contact with children during the time diocese officials took no action has not been reported.

It is also being reported by CBS News that a May 2010 memo was written stating that there were several complaints about the priest taking inappropriate photos of children. The memo was allegedly tendered to a Monsignor who was the vicar general. The Monsignor then allegedly spoke to the priest about his behavior and then reported to the Bishop about the memo and the meeting.

Months later, according to CBS, a computer tech discovered the child images on the priest’s computer. Most of the children were fully clothed, but many photos focused on the crotch area. There was allegedly also photos of a female toddler showing her genitals.

The computer was turned over to church officials, who in turn failed to report the extent of the photo collection to the authorities, and the computer was then returned to the priest’s relative.
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Priest sexual abuse attorneys in the State of Delaware have received a verdict of $30 million against the St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic parish after a jury found the church was grossly negligent in not properly supervising a former priest, according to the New York Times. The 58-year-old plaintiff was abused as a teenager in the 1960s.

The church is reportedly responsible for paying $3 million of the verdict. However, they could be responsible for paying more money after the jury rules on the issue of punitive damages. The judge hearing the case has instructed the jurors to come back next week for more testimony and decide the issue. Sometimes a punitive damages verdict can dwarf the initial verdict.

During the trial, the plaintiff reportedly stated to the jury that the case was not about money and he just wanted the truth to be told.