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Chicago Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Clergy sexual abuse is a highly traumatic crime with long-lasting ramifications for survivors. It is a gross betrayal of trust within a religious institution that can result in psychological, emotional, and physical trauma. While nothing can make up for the suffering caused by clergy sexual abuse, filing a lawsuit can bring some measure of justice to the victim.

At Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC, we give survivors of clergy sexual assault and abuse a voice in the civil justice system. Our attorneys in Chicago can help you hold someone accountable for the damages you suffered due to clergy sexual abuse. We will guide you to the best path to justice for your unique situation. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

Why Choose Our Chicago Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer?

  • Our sexual abuse and assault lawyers in Chicago have decades of legal experience. We will leverage our skills, knowledge of the law, and legal resources to secure the financial compensation you deserve as a clergy sexual abuse survivor.
  • We have obtained over $500 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients, including a $1.2 million settlement for a childhood sexual abuse victim by former Archdiocese of Chicago priest, Vincent McCaffrey.
  • Our clergy sexual abuse attorneys in Chicago operate on a contingency fee basis. This means you will not pay us unless you win your case. We offer free initial consultations and do not charge any attorney’s fees upfront.

What Is Clergy Sexual Abuse?

Clergy sexual abuse refers to any unwanted or nonconsensual act of a sexual nature perpetrated by a member of the clergy, including a priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, youth group leader, brother, nun, or other religious leaders. In many cases, these acts are committed against members of the religious community through exploitation of the power dynamic of the clergy-parishioner relationship.

Cases of clergy sexual abuse may involve:

  • Inappropriate comments or gestures
  • Groping or fondling
  • Touching of private parts (including the breasts of a female)
  • Exposing a child to pornography
  • Producing or distributing child pornography
  • Internet sex crimes
  • Invasions of privacy, such as while changing or using the bathroom
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Child molestation
  • Child prostitution
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Statutory rape
  • Penetration
  • Sodomy

Members of the clergy can engage in sexual misconduct by exploiting their positions of power over parishioners – especially children within the church who may be groomed from an early age. Clergy sexual abuse is typically characterized by a manipulation of the perpetrator’s spiritual authority, used to coerce or control victims into engaging in sexual activities against their will.

List of Credibly Accused Priests in Chicago

The Archdiocese of Chicago has published a list of clergy members with substantiated allegations against them of sexual abuse of a minor. It contains almost 200 names from incidents dating back to the 1960s.

The list includes, among many others, the following individuals:

  • Alberto R. Tanghal
  • Alexander Sylvester Baranowski
  • Carlos Peralta
  • Daniel J. McCormack
  • Daniel Peter Buck
  • John F. Rohrich
  • Jose Martin Careaga Hurtado
  • Joseph Patrick Kissane
  • Joseph R. Bennett
  • Louis Wojitowicz
  • Michael Howard Weston
  • Norbert J. Maday
  • Norman J. Czajka
  • Octavio Munoz Capetillo
  • Robert Gerald Aguirre
  • Thomas Francis Kelly
  • Thomas Job
  • Victor E. Stewart

The published list is long; however, a multi-year investigation by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office found that more than 450 Catholic clergy members abused nearly 2,000 children across six dioceses in Illinois, showing a significantly higher count than what the church reported.

Signs of Clergy Sexual Abuse

It is crucial for the people surrounding a victim to learn how to recognize the signs of clergy sexual abuse. Victims often do not report abuse for various reasons, such as fear of retaliation from their abusers, social or religious stigmas, fear of no one believing them, or feelings of shame or guilt.

While the following signs are not definitive proof of clergy sexual abuse, they are red flags that warrant further investigation:

  • Physical injuries, such as bruising of the upper thighs
  • Unexplained health problems, such as headaches or stomachaches
  • New fear of attending church or of a specific person
  • New changes in mood, behavior or personality
  • Changes in appearance, such as poor hygiene
  • Fear, anxiety or emotional distress
  • Depression or withdrawal from others
  • Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Nightmares, insomnia or bed-wetting
  • Diminished self-esteem or self-image
  • Substance use and abuse disorders
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Self-harm behaviors or suicidal acts

Parents, friends, and other loved ones should also be alert for signs of potential grooming behaviors by members of the clergy. This can include establishing a relationship and building trust with the victim, manipulating the victim’s emotions, attempting to isolate the victim from others, giving the victim gifts or special attention, flattering and complimenting the victim, and trying to be alone with the victim.

How to Report Clergy Sexual Abuse in Chicago

If you suspect a case of clergy sexual abuse in Chicago, report your suspicions right away. If the situation constitutes an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, if you wish to pursue criminal charges against an abuser, you can use the Chicago Police Department’s non-emergency number (311) to report a sex crime.

Help the victim get the medical care and mental health counseling that he or she needs. This may include visiting a crisis center in Chicago and obtaining a sexual assault forensic exam at a hospital that offers this near you. If you do not want the health care center to report the sexual abuse to the police, you can say so.

Contact the administrators of the church as well as the Archdiocese of Chicago to file an official sexual misconduct complaint. Gather all of the information and documentation that you have regarding the incident, such as medical records and witness statements. Then, bring your documents to our attorneys to discuss your legal options moving forward.

Request a Free Consultation With a Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer in Chicago

You may be eligible for financial compensation as a victim of clergy sexual abuse in Chicago no matter how many years have passed since the incident. In Illinois, claims filed after January 1, 2014, have no statute of limitations (deadline for filing). At Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC, our team of attorneys is committed to delivering justice to victims of clergy sexual abuse, assault, and violence. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.