If you or your child has been abused by a religious leader, we invite you to contact Hite Law Firm Trial Lawyers. We are clergy abuse attorneys in Abbeville, SC. We represent victims of child abuse as they seek accountability, justice, and healing.
Through legal representation, we rebuild lives. Our clergy abuse attorneys are highly experienced in handling claims of abuse and sexual abuse by religious leaders. To see how we can help you, contact us.
Perpetrators of clergy abuse may include:
- Religious counselors
- Deacons, elders
- Sunday school teachers
- Church administrators
Anyone in a position of religious leadership may be an abuser. In addition, the religious institution may fail to protect victims. Abuse may occur in a single incident, or it may occur over a period of time.
Legal Representation for Clergy Abuse Victims in Abbeville, SC
At Hite Law Firm, we are passionate about helping victims. We advocate for the afflicted, with a focus on helping victims of abuse.
If you or your child is a victim of clergy abuse, you should know:
- You don’t have to tolerate clergy abuse. Offenders – and the religious organizations that enable them – can be held accountable.
- If the religious organization is downplaying what happened or blaming the victim, you can fight back. You don’t have to wait for them to take you seriously – you can take action.
- Whether the victim is currently a minor child or you are an adult who has recently realized that you were harmed by abuse, you may have a claim. Victims harmed as adults may bring a claim, too.
- South Carolina has an extended time period for bringing a legal claim based on sexual abuse. You have six years from your twenty-first birthday or three years from when you discovered the causal relationship between the injury and abuse, whichever is later. Even if the abuse occurred some time ago, if you’re only recently realized that you have been harmed, you may still bring a claim. (S.C. Code § 15-3-555).
- The compensation you receive can reflect the harm you have endured, including your past trauma, counseling and therapy expenses, lost wages, future suffering, and lost enjoyment of life.
- A civil claim is brought by the victim, and this claim can be brought regardless of whether or not there were criminal charges against the abuser.
Our clergy abuse attorneys in Abbeville, SC, have deep roots in our community. We believe all victims should have qualified, professional legal representation. We invite you to talk about your situation. Contact us today for your consultation.
Physical and Sexual Abuse by Religious Leaders
Clergy abuse may be physical or sexual. Trauma may be long-lasting and varied, including anxiety, depression, social avoidance, difficulty sleeping and doing ordinary activities of life, trouble with professional and personal relationships, and triggers that interfere with normal living.
Many clergy abuse victims are physically harmed. However, you don’t have to have physical scars that show on an X-ray to have a claim. South Carolina law recognizes that clergy abuse is emotionally and mentally damaging. You may base your claim on the ways that you have been impacted by the abuse. Our lawyers gather proof to show the impact on the victim and the appropriate amount of compensation.
Representing minor children and adults
You may be a parent looking for help for your minor child. You may be an adult who was abused as a child. Maybe you are an adult who was victimized as an adult. Whatever the situation, perpetrators of clergy abuse should be held accountable. The perpetrators, and those who protect them, should have to answer for what they have done.
The compensation you receive may pay for treatment and other financial losses. It may represent the physical and mental anguish you have suffered. Our lawyers are experienced litigators and compassionate professionals. We know that clergy abuse victims are deeply impacted by what has happened to them. Call or message us in whatever way you are comfortable to talk to our legal team.
Holding Clergy Accountable for Physical and Sexual Abuse
It isn’t just the offender that may be held accountable for physical and sexual abuse in the church. Too often, the organization is aware of the abuse and the potential for continued abuse, and they don’t act. What’s worse, they may even protect the offender and shield them as they continue to harm others.
A victim may base their claim on the following:
- Gross negligence
- Negligent supervision
- Negligent training
- Maintaining conditions dangerous to children
- Breach of assumed duty
Negligent supervision is the idea that the religious organization knew of an offender’s abuse history and failed to stop it from happening again.
There are many examples from courts throughout the United States allowing negligent supervision as grounds to hold a religious organization accountable for allowing its leadership to perpetrate abuse. (See Lewis v. Congregation, 95 F. Supp. 3d 762 (D. Vt. 2015), Hutchinson v. Luddy, (2000 Pa. Super 316, 1999) (where the church knew abuse was likely to occur but allowed the person to have unsupervised contact with children), Bear Valley Church of Christ v. DeBose, 928 P.2d 1315 (Colo. 1996), rejecting a freedom of religion defense where other parents had previously complained about abuse of their children by a particular pastor).
Note: South Carolina recognizes that victims of sexual abuse often have repressed memories. For the statute of limitations, the court may consider that a person of common knowledge and experience would not have been put on notice that they had a claim. (Moriarty v. Garden Sanctuary Church of God, 534 S.E.2d 672 (S.C. 2000).
Consultations Available – Talk to an Attorney for Clergy Abuse
If you are ready to proceed, or if you are simply uncertain about what has occurred and looking for answers, we invite you to contact us. Talk about your situation and see how our lawyers can help.