Clergy Sexual Abuse

On the mainland and here in Hawaii, priests from the Catholic Church and other faiths sexually abused young children. These predators within the clergy used the power and influence of the Church to intimidate their victims into silence. Many of the children were too terrified to tell anyone, fearing that they would not be believed or that they would be punished for coming forward. Many grew up with social and psychological problems as a result of the abuse. Most kept silent with their shame and suffered alone.

Until recently, the law in Hawaii had strict time limits for asserting claims for childhood sexual abuse. Claims for abuse which happened in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and even in later years, were barred as being “too old.” In April, 2012, the law changed.

The new law creates a special, limited window of time, between April, 2012 and April, 2014. During that window, it is possible to make a claim for clergy sexual abuse, even if the abuse happened decades ago. However, once the window closes, the ability to pursue justice for the “old” claims also closes.

As a result of the new law and greater public awareness of clergy abuse issues, children who were victims in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s (and in more recent years) are now coming forward. They are finding that they were not the only one in their peer group or parish targeted by the predators. Victims come to understand that the abuse was not their fault and they didn’t do anything to deserve what happened to them.

The survivors of abuse, many of whom are now middle-aged or older adults, have found that coming forward to seek justice has been healing. Through asserting their claims, they are able to seek compensation. But, importantly, they are also able to achieve changes in Church policies and practices, better reporting procedures, and more accountability --- all to help prevent these horrifying events from ever happening again.

Rosenberg McKay Hoffman is working with a team of multi-state legal and investigative specialists to pursue child abuse claims by the clergy. If you or family member or friend has been the victim of such abuse, contact us for a confidential consultation to discuss the new Hawaii law and victim’s rights.