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Catholic Dioceses File Bankruptcy to Avoid Sex Abuse Cases


As of September 2023, eighteen Catholic churches have reorganized their debts under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and another twelve are in proceedings. Three religious orders affiliated with the church have also filed for bankruptcy.

Obstacles to Fair Compensation in Child Sex Abuse Claims

Latent injury victims, like child sex abuse victims, are usually entitled to substantial compensation. However, since these claims are so complex, only the most experienced Seattle child sex abuse lawyer should handle them.

The statute of limitations might be the biggest obstacle in latent injury cases. Sex abuse is such a shattering event that most victims cannot put the pieces together for years, or even decades. Similarly, if people breathe asbestos fibers during construction jobs, their mesothelioma (asbestos-induced lung cancer) tumors usually grow undetected for at least fifty years.

RCW 4.16.340 basically codified the discovery rule in sex abuse cases. According to this rule, the two-year SOL starts running when victims know the full extent of their damages and they connect those damages with a tortfeasor’s (wrongful actor’s) conduct or misconduct.

A Seattle personal injury lawyer must prove both elements of the discovery rule, or the statutory equivalent, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not, if a victim is to have his/her day in court.

Another common obstacle is unique to child sex abuse cases. Quite simply, many jurors are skeptical about these claims. They believe the victim should’ve come forward earlier.

The answer is just as simple. The brain conceals traumatic memories. The more time goes by, the more layers of protection it adds. Therefore, many victims have no memory of the abuse at all until they begin suffering unexplained symptoms, like difficulty with relationships and depression. Then, they see therapists who start peeling back the layers.

Bankruptcy and Civil Cases

Organizational bankruptcy is a separate obstacle that we should discuss separately. According to the Supreme Court, bankruptcy gives financial relief to distressed debtors who are honest, yet unfortunate. Organizations like the Catholic Church don’t belong in any of these three categories.

First, most churches aren’t distressed debtors. Many churches are debtors. They have budget deficits. But even these debtors aren’t distressed, at least in most cases. Financial problems very rarely force churches to close. There’s almost always at least one other factor.

Second, Catholic Churches aren’t honest. These churches had many chances to accept responsibility for abuse and compensate victims. But they chose to look the other way. Honest people own up to their mistakes, pay for them, and move on.

Third, Catholic Churches aren’t unfortunate. In this context, “unfortunate” usually means a business downturn or other event that was mostly, or entirely, beyond the petitioner’s control. Sex abuse lawsuits are self-inflicted wounds. Lawyers wouldn’t be involved if these churches took care of their business.

Reach Out to a Dedicated King County Lawyer

Child sex abuse victims must overcome additional obstacles to obtain compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Seattle, contact Emerald Law Group. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.


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