A Brief History of Clergy & Church Abuse

Clergy, church leaders, and religious institutions generally exist to offer spiritual and moral guidance and healthy community for those faithful followers under their protection.   Accordingly, the betrayal of trust the victims experience when they are sexually abused by a member of the clergy or a church leader is extremely harmful to victims. The victim is betrayed not only by the abuser, but also by the religious institution that allowed the abuse to occur through the manipulation of trust and faith.

Child Sexual Abuse

In recent years, the Catholic Church has come under national and international scrutiny for the extensive and systemic problem of child sexual abuse within the Church, as well as the Church’s decisions to ignore (and sometime conceal) the truth about the crimes of serial sexual predators in their churches and schools.

Unfortunately, systemic problems of child sexual abuse by trusted leaders in churches and religious organizations goes beyond the Catholic Church. Abuse by clergy of many different faiths is well-documented. Many religious organizations have structures and cultures that encourage and enable sexual abuse of vulnerable members.

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Represent Victims Abused

The attorneys at Crew Janci LLP represent victims abused by clergy and church leaders in the following organizations:

  • Catholic churches and schools operated by diocese and religious orders (nuns, brothers, etc.);
  • Mormon Church (LDS) (also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints);
  • Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA);
  • Methodists and other mainline Protestant churches (Presbyterian, etc);
  • Evangelical, Fundamentalist, and/or Pentecostal churches;
  • Mennonite and other Anabaptist traditions;
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watchtower);
  • Eastern and New Age religious organizations;
  • And more.

Here at Crew Janci LLP, we are familiar with the patterns of abuse, silence, shame, and concealment within religious organizations and other institutions. Litigation can offer healing for the individual (in the form of justice and restitution/compensation), as well as institutional accountability resulting in changes to organizational policy and practices to better protect current and future children in the care of the religious organization.

If you or someone you love has been victimized by a member of the clergy and are interested in learning more about your rights and remedies, please contact us for a free and confidential consultation. To learn more about our firm’s commitment to survivors sexually abused by religious authorities, click on one of the practice areas, above.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Much like the Catholic Church, recent investigations have begun to uncover the depth and scope of a systemic problem of child sexual abuse (and cover up) within the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Society. As recently as November 2014, the Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to instruct their Elders to keep child sexual abuse a secret from both law enforcement and their own congregations — while collecting detailed information on congregants who prey on children.

Anyone who grew up within the Jehovah’s Witnesses community knows that it takes tremendous courage for victims of childhood sexual abuse to come forward. If a victim tells an elder that she or he was molested by a member of the congregation, the child must produce another witness to the crime before the elders will investigate the allegation. Further, if the allegations are deemed “unfounded,” the victim may be accused of “bearing false witness.” Many victims fear disfellowshipping or shunning by the faith community. Yet, the only other way elders are allowed to take action against a perpetrator is if the perpetrator confesses. And, even then, abusers who express repentance often are allowed to remain in the congregation.



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