Category: Clergy Abuse

Erin’s Law

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New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers help sexual abuse survivors obtain justice.The New Jersey Senate recently passed legislation that would incorporate mandatory sex abuse education in New Jersey school curricula. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco, is named after a childhood sexual abuse survivor. If signed by the governor, Erin’s Law would require New Jersey schools to incorporate sexual abuse awareness and prevention education for children in preschool through grade 12.

What is Erin’s Law?

Erin’s Law would educate children on subjects such as what constitutes inappropriate touching and when to tell an adult about it. The survivor states that had she been properly educated on personal body safety when she was a child, she would have been more likely to report being sexually abused. She hopes that through awareness and education, children will be empowered to use their voice, should anything inappropriate occur.

She also notes that the emphasis on “stranger danger” is misplaced; children are abused by someone they know 93 percent of the time. In her testimony, she asks that children be provided with age-appropriate safe-touch education. Under Erin’s Law, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education would collaborate with several agencies to provide sample learning activities and resources to schools across the state, including the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) and the New Jersey Children’s Alliance.

According to the survivor, the law has already been effective in the other states in which it was enacted. She recounts instances during educational sessions that children in Illinois, Maryland, and Oregon told teachers that they had been sexually abused. One case even led to the conviction of a teacher who had been sexually abusing four girls for 15 years. She is hopeful that Erin’s Law will be signed in New Jersey, and plans to continue fighting for its passage in the remaining states that have yet to pass the bill.

The Impetus for the Legislation

The survivor was sexually abused for two years, when she was six-years old, by her neighbor, who threatened her into silence. She was also abused from age 11 to 13 by her cousin, who said no one would believe her if she told anyone about the abuse. She stayed silent for years, sharing her story only with her diary. In 2005, she self-published a memoir detailing the abuse she endured and how she managed to overcome the trauma. She then traveled to schools all over the country, telling her story and fighting for the passage of Erin’s Law. The law was first passed in the survivor’s home state of Illinois in 2010. Since then, 35 states have enacted Erin’s Law.

New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Sexual Abuse Survivors Obtain Justice

If you were sexually abused by a priest or other member of the clergy, contact a New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. For a free consultation, please fill out our online contact form or call us at 732-249-4600. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys are dedicated to fighting for the rights of clergy abuse survivors. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

Former New Jersey Priest Appears on New Mexico List of Alleged Abusers

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Former New Jersey Priest Appears on New Mexico List of Alleged AbusersA former New Jersey priest appeared on the recently released New Mexico list of credibly accused abusers. The Diocese of Gallup in New Mexico added the priest who was removed from the priesthood back in 2002 for sexual abuse allegations while he served in the Camden, New Jersey diocese to the list. He served at St. Anthony of Padua in Hammonton, New Jersey from 1979 to 1981, and a woman filed a suit against him in 2012 for several alleged assaults in 1980 and 1981 when she was in the fifth grade at the parish’s school. From October 1981 to January 1982, the priest served at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Page, Arizona, and church officials claim they had no knowledge of alleged sexual abuse while he was in Arizona. In addition to the New Mexico list, he appeared on the New Jersey list of credibly accused priests that surfaced in January.

Releasing the lists of credibly accused priests confirms the abuse that many clergy abuse survivors endured and may have kept secret due to shame and fear. Victims and survivors are entitled to hold their abusers accountable for crimes committed against them often during their childhoods, which leave long-lasting scars. The scars may remain, but the hope that laws will change to retrieve justice for both survivors and victims may be forthcoming in the future.

If you or a loved one dealt with the trauma of clergy abuse, our New Jersey clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will protect your rights and ensure that justice is served. Please call us at 732-249-4600 or toll-free at 877-249-4600 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey including the municipalities of New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia from our offices in Highland Park.

Causes of the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis

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New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers protect the rights of abuse survivors.As the number of clergy sex abuse cases reported in the Catholic Church continues to rise, this Church crisis remains in the spotlight. As more clergy abuse survivors tell their stories and search for justice, the Church and its followers are struggling to define the causes of the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Several high-profile Catholic universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Santa Clara University, and Catholic University have initiated research into the phenomenon of clergy abuse. At Catholic University’s Healing the Breach of Trust conference, attendees addressed different perspectives on clergy abuse ranging from misuse of power and lack of transparency to the problems of rumor and innuendo. All these research initiatives examine the best practices for working with clergy abuse survivors to ensure they get the resources they need for continued healing.

The Problem of Clericalism

Many Catholic theologians, including Pope Francis, indicated clericalism plays an important part in the clergy sex abuse crisis. Clericalism occurs when an individual gives too much deference to a priest or bishop by holding them as vastly superior to the lay members of the Catholic Church. Using titles, such as “Your Eminence,” emphasizes the power clericalism holds. With clericalism, it becomes much harder to hold abusive priests accountable for their actions. Pope Francis called this a toxic and un-Christian culture of ministerial superiority, fostering deceit and lack of transparency in the Catholic Church.

Creating a Culture of Abuse

Other Church critics believe the hierarchal nature of the church created a culture of abuse allowing clergy abuse to continue. When bishops and cardinals are viewed less as pastors and more as members of an elite club, it breeds an environment where priests believe they are above the law. Pope Francis continues to emphasis that service to the people should be the hallmark of all priests, including higher ranking bishops, archbishops, and cardinals.

Other prominent Catholic theologians highlight additional factors, including the role of sexuality, the prevalence of sexual violence, and the disproportionate amount of gay priests in the Catholic Church as potential causes of clergy sexual abuse. For now, researchers remain divided on the true cause of the crisis.

Compensation for Clergy Abuse Survivors

Individuals who have experienced clergy abuse can spend a significant amount of time and money dealing with its aftermath. The costs of medical treatments, prescriptions, therapy, and lost wages due to an inability to work can place significant financial strain on families. Clergy abuse survivors often are entitled to receive compensation to help cover some of these expenses. By filing a civil lawsuit against the Catholic Church, survivors can obtain justice and hold those who covered up these reprehensible acts accountable.

New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Protect the Rights of Clergy Abuse Survivors

If you or a loved one experienced abuse at the hands of a priest or other clergy members, the New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will fight for the justice you deserve. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 732-249-4600 or submit an online inquiry form. With offices conveniently located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we assist clergy abuse survivors and their families throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

Clergy Abuse Victim Funds

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New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers protect the rights of abuse survivors.The public releases of investigative reports recently shed light on the ongoing problem of clergy abuse in the Catholic Church. Multiple dioceses recently responded by creating victim compensation funds, which make payments to individuals harmed by priests and church officials within the diocese. Many clergy abuse survivors and advocacy groups question whether compensation funds provide the best results in the long run.

Holding the Church Responsible

Initially, only those individuals who previously identified themselves as an abuse survivor to the diocese will be eligible to receive compensation. Church officials have not released specific financial details about the funds, which are estimated to pay several millions of dollars to survivors of sexual abuse by priests. The amount of individual settlements will be determined by the fund administrator. For now, many individuals harmed through clergy abuse have no other way to seek compensation for their injuries.

Under New Jersey’s statute of limitations, claims against predatory priests must be brought within a specific time period. Until legislative reforms remove these barriers for filing suit, survivor compensation funds are the only available option.

Critics Warn of Increased Protection for Priests

Critics of compensation funds caution that allowing the Church to handle restitution outside the legal system would prevent true transparency and allow predatory priests to be shielded from public reprimand. The fund would also limit the Church’s financial exposure as individuals receiving payments will waive their right to bring any future legal claims. Victim compensation funds also require individuals to sign non-waiver and confidentiality agreements, preventing any future disclosures about the abuse or settlement payment.

Allowing the Church to conceal the details of the abuse could continue a pattern of cover-ups that have protected many predatory priests and their supervisors in the past. The existence of the fund may also limit the amount of additional investigations into the abuse problem. Advocates for the clergy abuse survivors have expressed concern that crucial information, including priest assignment files, may not be available to survivors who accept compensation from the fund.

Justice for Clergy Abuse Survivors

Healing from the aftermath of sexual abuse can be a lifelong journey for many. Obtaining compensation for the costs of medical and psychological treatment, mental health expenses, prescription drugs, lost wages, and their ongoing emotional distress can help abuse survivors and their families move forward. By holding all responsible parties accountable, including the church officials who covered up or moved abusive clergy from one assignment to another, justice can be found for the survivors.

New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Office of Harold J. Gerr Protect the Rights of Clergy Abuse Survivors

If you are a survivor of clergy abuse, the experienced New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help you obtain justice. With compassion and dedication, we strive to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for clergy abuse survivors and their families. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 732-249-4600 or submit an online inquiry form.

Our Highland Park, New Jersey offices serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

Archdiocese of Newark Allegedly Dismissed Survivor’s Abuse Claims

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Archdiocese of Newark Allegedly Dismissed Survivor’s Abuse ClaimsA clergy abuse survivor alleges that the Archdiocese of Newark dismissed the claims he brought to them. Nearly 30 years ago, a priest originally from St. Michael’s Parish in Florham Park, New Jersey allegedly abused the survivor when the priest served as a substitute at the Immaculate Conception Church within the Archdiocese. After decades of suppressing the abuse, the man gathered the courage to come forward with the claims when he read the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report released in 2018. When he approached the Archdiocese back in August 2018, representatives kept passing him on to others, and he did not receive any type of resolution. The Archdiocese claims that since the purported abusive priest was a member of the religious order Society of Divine Vocations that they are not responsible for examining the claims despite his service in Archdiocese churches. The priest left the order 20 years ago, and currently serves as a priest in a church in Brazil who claims they never received information regarding the abuse allegations. In the meantime, the survivor filed his claims with the Newark Police Department.

Despite the fact that religious orders fall within the authority of the Catholic church, many dioceses deflect responsibility for investigating abuse claims by members of the orders even if they have served as clergy members within their churches. They state that they are not accountable for compensating victims or survivors if the priest in question is involved with a religious order. This prevents those who suffered from traumatic abuse to put the past behind them and hold their abusers accountable for their actions.

If you or someone you love suffered from abuse as a child, our New Jersey clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will pursue justice for you. To schedule a free case review, call us at 732-249-4600 or toll-free at 877-249-4600 or contact us online. From our offices in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Jersey including the municipalities of New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

Holmdel Priest Removed from Ministry Due to Alleged Sex Abuse

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Holmdel Priest Removed from Ministry Due to Alleged Sex AbuseA Holmdel, New Jersey priest was removed from the ministry due to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The former Burlington County priest held several positions within the Trenton Diocese before his latest post since 2013 as pastor of St. Catharine’s Parish in Holmdel. Allegedly, the abuse occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the priest served at St. Ann’s Parish in Keansburg, New Jersey. Although the allegations were deemed credible after his current parish interviewed the abuse survivor, it is stated that the abuse occurred past the statute of limitations in New Jersey, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. No charges were filed, but the abuse will be reported to each parish in which he served, and the Holmdel priest was removed from the ministry.

The current statute of limitations that exists in New Jersey and many other states limits the ability of sexual abuse survivors from filing claims against their abusers. Decades of fear and shame regarding their past childhood trauma may make it extremely difficult for survivors to work up the courage to hold their perpetrators accountable. While reports issued in February within the state identified clergy members credibly accused of abuse, it may be too late for some survivors to gain the justice they deserve.

If you or a loved one faced clergy abuse as a child, our New Jersey clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will offer you the strength to go forward in filing a claim against your abuser. Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 732-249-4600 or toll-free at 877-249-4600 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and the following municipalities including New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

Response Tactics to Sexual Abuse in Churches

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New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers help sexual abuse survivors.Allegations continue to surface about clergy abuse and the Catholic Church’s systematic attempts to cover it up. Many Catholics have since left the church with their faith in the ministry eroded. However, according to a local Catholic news organization, surveys show that many people are unaware that bishops in U.S. churches have been implementing response tactics to child sexual abuse since 2002.

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

In 2002, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was created to address how U.S. Catholic dioceses and eparchies would respond to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The charter, most recently revised in June 2018, also provides guidelines for healing and reconciliation, effective responses, accountability, and prevention of future abuse.

The Charter states that dioceses and eparchies should reach out to survivors and their families and offer counseling, spiritual assistance, and other social services. It emphasizes the need to show loving concern, patience, and compassion to those who were abused. Article 2 of the Charter states that each diocese should have policies and procedures in place for those making a complaint, and that those policies should be available in printed form and be publicly announced annually.

Effective Responses

Dioceses and eparchies are responsible for reporting allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to the appropriate authorities, cooperate with any investigations, and advise victims of their right to make a report. The Charter states that clergy sexual abuse of a minor is a serious crime in the universal law of the Church and that a single act of sexual abuse of a minor, no matter when it occurred, shall be cause of permanent removal of the offender from the ministry, and if warranted, dismissal from the clerical state.

Accountability

The Charter emphasizes the need to ensure the accountability of its procedures. It states that the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People shall provide advice on all matters related to child and youth protection, as well as oversight of plans, programs, and budget development of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection (SCYP). The SCYP must produce an annual public report detailing the progress that was made regarding implementation and maintenance of the Charter standards. The 2018 report reveals that:

  • More than 650 adults and 24 minors raised charges
  • Dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 1,905 survivors
  • Safe environment training was provided to more than 4.1 million children and 56,000 clergy members

Prevention of Future Abuse

According to the Charter, dioceses and eparchies are responsible for maintaining safe environment programs with cooperation from parents, civil authorities, educators, and community organizations to provide education and training for everyone involved, including minors, parents, ministers, employees, and volunteers. The Charter concludes with the bishops reaffirming their commitment to working toward healing and reconciliation for survivors.

New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Sexual Abuse Survivors

If you were sexually abused by a clergy member, the New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help. We will fight to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the justice you deserve. For a free and confidential consultation, please submit an online inquiry or call us at 732-249-4600. Based in Highland Park, New Jersey, we work with clients throughout the surrounding areas, including New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

Case Against Catholic Priest Will Be Tried in Atlantic County

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Case Against Catholic Priest Will Be Tried in Atlantic CountyA civil case against a Catholic priest will be tried in Atlantic County, New Jersey after claims made by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that stated that the abuse occurred outside their jurisdiction and could not be tried in the county. From 1972 to 1977, a seminary student from the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary allegedly abused a seven-year-old boy. Initially, the sexual abuse took place in Brigantine, New Jersey during a vacation, and another incident occurred on a trip to Gloucester City, New Jersey. The alleged abuser moved to St. Anne’s Parish in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania after graduating from the seminary.

Despite retaliatory threats from the abuser, the boy reported the events in 1974 to the church, and with intervention from a nun two years later, the priest who passed away in 2010 was transferred to a parish in Chester County, Pennsylvania. In addition to the abuse, the plaintiff alleged that the Archdiocese was negligent and failed to investigate the claims. A judge recently ruled that since the Archdiocese owned property in Atlantic County and was partnered with the Trenton Diocese that a trial in Atlantic County is permitted and will occur on May 2.

If you or someone you love suffered from clergy abuse in childhood, our New Jersey clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will fight against the injustice you faced. Call us today at 732-249-4600 or toll-free at 877-249-4600 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey and the following municipalities including New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia from our offices in Highland Park, New Jersey.

Pope Confirms Clergy Abuse of Nuns

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New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers protect the rights of sexual abuse survivors.Clergy abuse can take many forms ranging from the sexual molestation of young boys and girls to unwanted physical advances by adult parishioners. In a latest revelation by the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, clergy abuse also has occurred through the mistreatment of Catholic nuns by priests.

Acknowledgment of Past Clergy Misconduct

In discussing the mistreatment of women in the Church, Pope Francis confirmed publicly for the first time that there have been both priests and bishops who have sexually abused Catholic nuns under their supervision. Acknowledging at least one instance of sexual slavery forced on nuns by a priest in a French congregation that was disbanded earlier by Pope Benedict XVI, the Pope vowed to continue exposing manipulation and abuses of power by the clergy.

Catholic nuns have begun to share their troubling stories of clergy abuse in greater numbers. In 2017, nuns from the Kerala region of India openly protested a bishop accused of raping a fellow nun for several years. Hesitancy to report sexual abuse leads many survivor advocacy groups to believe the number of these incidents against nuns by priests is greatly underestimated.

Concealment of Abuse

This latest recognition of clergy abuse of nuns highlights the ongoing problem of concealment of these criminal actions by Church leaders. Critics point out the Church’s ongoing policy of allowing accused priests to resign without explanation is to avoid being fired or publicly reprimanded. Transparency regarding the Church’s internal investigations and disciplinary procedures has not occurred.

When Church superiors, including bishops and archbishops, cover up the abuse by priests, it strengthens a culture of secrecy surrounding clergy abuse. Holding the Church responsible for its role in covering up clergy sexual misconduct is an important part in providing justice for clergy abuse survivors.

Compensation for Survivors of Clergy Abuse

All survivors of clergy abuse, including innocent children, adult parishioners, and nuns, deserve justice. A Highland Park clergy abuse lawyer works on behalf of clergy abuse survivors to hold the Church, archbishops, cardinals, priests, and any individual covering up these abuses accountable for their actions. Clergy abuse survivors are entitled for compensation for their injuries, including the costs of their medical and psychological treatment, individual and family counseling or therapy, prescription drug expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress damages.

New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Protect the Rights of Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors

The experienced New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr handle all types of clergy abuse matters. Our compassion and dedication to obtaining justice for survivors of clergy sexual abuse has led us to obtain the compensation our clients are entitled. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 732-249-4600 or contact us online. Based in Highland Park, New Jersey, we work with clients throughout the surrounding areas, including New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.

Hillsborough Youth Minister Sentenced for Sex Abuse of Minor

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Hillsborough Youth Minister Sentenced for Sex Abuse of MinorA youth minister from Hillsborough, New Jersey was sentenced on Monday for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor. The 52-year-old man who is a previously convicted sex offender registered with Megan’s Law was arrested in April 2015 for abuse he purportedly committed against a 15-year-old girl between March and June 2014. At the time, he was serving as a youth minister with the Franklin Township Christian center and working with minors. By volunteering with the center, he violated the terms of Megan’s Law due to previous charges of sexual assault and sexual misconduct respectively in 1980 and 1988.

Unfortunately, the Catholic church is not the only religious institution that may harbor potential perpetrators of abuse. Although it may be assumed that abusive priests may be the only clergy members capable of committing these types of crimes, other individuals involved in activities affiliated with religious groups may be just as liable. Clergy abuse in any form jeopardizes the well-being and future of any survivor or victim who has been affected.

If you or a loved one endured clergy abuse as a child, our New Jersey clergy abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will discuss your case with the utmost respect and discretion. To arrange a free and confidential consultation, please call us today at 732-249-4600 or toll-free at 877-249-4600 or contact us online. From our offices in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and the communities of New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.