Deadline Against Archdiocese of Baltimore for Sexual Assault Is May 31: File Your Catholic Church Rape Lawsuits Before Deadline

In a move that surprised no one, the nation’s oldest Catholic diocese filed a bankruptcy petition two days before a statute of limitations waiver took effect. The bankruptcy filing immediately stopped lawsuits against the archdiocese itself.

In another move that was no surprise, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michelle M. Harner upheld the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s bankruptcy claim and gave rape and sexual assault survivors of the Catholic Church in Baltimore until May 31 to file.

If you or a loved one is the survivor of childhood rape or sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Baltimore, we are here to listen. You are not alone. Unfortunately, your chance to seek the justice you deserve is on a time limit because of the bankruptcy filing. Contact the compassionate sexual assault survivor lawyers at The Yost Legal Group for a free consultation.

Some plaintiffs’ attorneys had pressed forward with lawsuits against individual parishes and schools, but the judge’s order stopped those lawsuits, too. The protection extends to all entities on archdiocesan insurance. Church lawyers told the judge they want to make sure as much money as possible is available for survivors who file claims in the bankruptcy case. Without this protection, they said, individual cases in state court risk depleting the insurance money.

David Lorenz, the Maryland director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said he was disappointed to see the parishes, schools, and other church entities removed from the threat of lawsuits. Survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their attorneys have criticized diocesan bankruptcy as a tactic to limit payouts and protect church secrets.

Lorenz also took issue with a suggestion made by archdiocese lawyers that the new Child Victims Act forced the church into bankruptcy. “I want to make it absolutely clear. We’re not here because the CVA passed. That was righting the wrong in the legal system,” he said. “We’re here because people were abused, and the archdiocese enabled it.”

Deadline Against Archdiocese of Baltimore for Sexual Assault Is May 31

The Statute of Limitations

Contrary to popular myth, Maryland lawmakers did not eliminate the statute of limitations in organizational sex abuse cases. They simply codified the discovery rule, a legal doctrine that is valid in almost every state. In other words, the new law didn’t make a salad bar for organizational sex abuse survivors. It just lowered the salad bar’s price.

As one of our law professors said, you only get one trip to the salad bar of justice, at least in most cases. 

Assume Ben settles a truck crash case for $100,000. A few years later, doctors tell him he needs a hip replacement because his crash-related broken hip never fully healed. Ben is financially responsible for the hip replacement. The prior settlement resolved the matter once and for all. Therefore, survivors cannot settle cases until they are fully aware of all their damages. 

Additionally, survivors cannot settle cases until they identify the responsible party. Responsible parties in trauma injury claims are easy to identify. Responsible parties in occupational disease claims are hard to identify. As mentioned, stressful events cause PTSD. We all experience significant amounts of stress from various sources.

The discovery rule incorporates both these principles. Survivors usually have two years to file injury claims after they discover the full extent of their damages, and they connect those damages with a party’s misconduct.

This rule is complex, usually because there is a significant gap between recognition of the injury and identification of the party. 

Assume Mary took Drug X for six months. After she stopped taking it, the manufacturer added a liver damage warning. Mary almost immediately develops liver problems. However, she does not connect those liver problems with Drug X until she sees a TV documentary on the subject several years later.

Maryland’s SOL change eliminates these complexities, allowing a sex abuse lawyer to obtain a settlement quicker.

Compensation Available

Because of the aforementioned added betrayal element, organizational sexual abuse is very difficult to recover from. These survivors usually require years of therapy. Even then, they are often unable to hold jobs, mostly because they cannot trust anyone else to any degree. 

Broken bones usually heal. But broken spirits usually do not heal, at least not entirely. Therefore, these difficulties are lifelong.

So, quite frankly, these survivors need money to pay therapy bills and replace the income they lose. Compensation is available for all these economic, out-of-pocket losses if a sex abuse lawyer proves the current and future bills and losses were reasonable.

Compensation is also available for emotional distress and other noneconomic losses. Abusers took so much from sex abuse survivors that these survivors deserve to get a lot back.

Usually, almost immediately after a sex abuse lawyer files legal paperwork, the insurance company makes a token settlement offer. Many survivors are understandably tempted to take this low-ball offer. After all, at this point, most survivors just want to close the book on this part of their lives and move on.

Better evidence is usually available later, which means higher compensation is available as well. Many attorneys find “smoking guns,” like prior disciplinary records, during discovery. Such direct evidence greatly increases a claim’s settlement value.

The settlement value is more than money. Civil settlements also force the Catholic Church, and other organizations that tolerated sexual abuse, to accept responsibility for the harm they caused. These groups had chance after chance to do the right thing. Now, the lawyers must help sort things out.

Church Sexual Abuse Attorneys - Baltimore

Compassionate Sexual Assault Attorney’s Available on a No-Win, No-Fee Basis

The Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Catholic Church have gotten away with abhorrent behavior for far too long. There are many survivors and victims of bad people within the Archdiocese and Church. Survivors and family members deserve justice. The deadline is quickly approaching to file a claim against the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Friday, May 31, 2024 is the last day you can file a claim against the Archdiocese of Baltimore if you are the survivor of childhood rape or sexual assault.

If you or a loved one was raped or sexually abused as a child by a member of the Archdiocese of Baltimore or Catholic Church in the state of Maryland, we are here to provide support. For a free consultation with an experienced sexual abuse survivor lawyer, contact The Yost Legal Group. We are available via e-mail, phone (1-800-YOST-LAW), and text (410-659-6800).