Why has sexual abuse in the Catholic church become such a hot topic in recent years when the abuse dates back decades? How come the public didn’t know about this sooner? Why didn’t the church make an effort to stop abuse years ago?
As we learn more about the horrific sexual abuse endured by countless young Catholics these are some of the questions we begin to ask. Why wasn’t anything done to protect these young and most vulnerable among us?
Now is society’s opportunity to make changes that correct the injustices created by the Catholic Church’s behavior. Changes in state laws are forcing the Catholic church to reveal its dark secrets, and giving survivors a chance to hold the church accountable. Attorney Paul Mones and the other attorneys on our team stand at the forefront of this movement, and we continue to push on.
Looking Under The Rug
For too long, the Catholic church got away with sweeping sexual abuse under the rug. In doing so, it became just as guilty as the abusers it harbored.
Each time it covered up an allegation of sexual abuse by not reporting to law enforcement or moving an offending priest to a new parish it helped facilitate the abuse. As church leaders looked the other way while altar boys, confessors, and other youth were molested, raped, or told sexual acts were part of the path to salvation, the Catholic church sealed its fate.
In 2007, he and his co-counsel obtained an $11.45 million jury verdict against the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York on behalf of two victims — the largest jury verdict rendered to date against a Diocese in New York.
One of Mones’ more recent cases was filed earlier this year in Fresno County, California on behalf of a woman who accuses Father Miguel Flores of raping, fondling, and kissing her when she was just 16. “Flores’ sexual abuse of (the alleged victim) was accompanied by relentless, intimidating and unspeakable verbal and physical threats,” the lawsuit says. “These threats included Flores warning plaintiff that no one would believe her if she reported his assaults. Flores also threatened plaintiff that he and/or his family would physically harm plaintiff’s family and her then-boyfriend, now-husband if she revealed this abuse to any third person.”
Lookback Laws Are An Important Tool
Sexual abuse was not an isolated problem that impacted one or two diocese. It was and is a nationwide institutional epidemic that has persisted for decades. A handful of state policy makers have begun to recognize this, and have passed lookback laws that allow survivors to file lawsuits years after their abuse occurred. California, New York, and New Jersey are notable examples, and other states may soon move in a similar direction.
Attorney Mones urges any and all Catholic church sexual abuse survivors who want to hold the church accountable for the harm it facilitated to contact our office. It doesn’t matter where you are located now, where you lived when the abuse occurred, or how long ago the abuse was. We want to hear your story and figure out if there is a way to bring your abusers to justice.