In 2002, one of the most destructive scandals in the history of the Catholic Church came to light, changing the way we look at religious dignitaries forever. That of course was church sexual abuse.
In January 2002, former Catholic priest John Geoghan was convicted of indecently fondling a 10-year-old boy in the early 1990s. During his trial, it was discovered that church leaders in Boston, including the archbishop, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, had moved Geoghan around the archdiocese for years despite numerous complaints he was molesting children. By the end of January, investigators revealed that Law had secretly settled sexual abuse claims against dozens of priests since 1993. As news of the abuse spread around the world, hundreds of victims came forward claiming Boston Archdiocese priests had molested them.
By March 2002, Catholic priests in Florida, Ireland and Poland had resigned, admitting they had sexually abused young clerics. In December 2002, after details emerged indicating that leaders simply transferred priests accused of sexual misconduct in an effort to protect the church’s reputation, Cardinal Law, facing enormous pressure from interest groups and other Catholic priests, resigned his position. By 2003, dioceses around the country had settled dozens of sexual abuse lawsuits, costing the church millions of dollars. At least 500 more cases are currently pending against the Archdiocese of Boston alone.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is not the only organization facing a molestation scandal. In April 2003, a CBS News report revealed widespread abuse among Jehovah’s Witness leaders. In 2002, two Minnesota women, both 22, filed lawsuits against a former elder of their congregation as well as the headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, alleging a member of their church molested them before they were teenagers. After the lawsuit was filed, former elders came forward alleging that sexual abuse was rampant among Jehovah’s Witnesses, with thousands of children possibly being molested over the years.
If you or a family member has been hurt, injured, abused or otherwise harmed, you should contact one of our California attorneys who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.
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