Childhood Sexual Abuse and Assault Cases by Clergy

Recent events involving the conviction of the former priest John Geoghan have prompted sexual assault victims to come forward with their stories. Some have filed civil lawsuits for money damages against the Boston Archdiocese. No one wants to be involved in legal action involving the church, but the continued failure of the Church to prevent and reveal priest child molesters has prompted many people to pursue legal claims to get compensation of their trauma and to prevent it from happening again.

What Victims should know:

Although the sexual abuse may have occurred while a child, those who are now adults may still be pursue cases even if the abuse happened years ago. Massachusetts law gives victims three years from the date of the abuse. However, the three years does not begin until a person is age 18 (ending at age 21). The law also provides the following provision to victims of sexual abuse while minors, the three year limit only begins when the "victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that an emotional or psychological injury ... was caused by said act." Thus, if a child is unaware that they were a victim of molestation (as is the case when people suppress the damage) the law allow recovery for many years into a victim's adult life.

Under Massachusetts law, victims of childhood sexual abuse involving the rape of a minor, a criminal charge may be brought as late as (15) fifteen years from the date of the rape.

Interestingly, the law provides that the 15 years does not include any years the abuser did not reside in the state. Thus any period where the abuser is not a resident in Massachusetts is "excluded" in determining the 15 year limit.

Fill out the form below for a private and confidential discussion with an attorney who specializes in childhood sexual abuse cases. You may also call 617-424-1137.

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