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How Child Sex Abuse Victims Have Sought Justice Against Priests and Church Officials

December 9, 2022  ·  By HM&M


Abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, brothers, or other church officials is physically and emotionally devastating. In these cases, the victims put their trust and faith in a clergy member, only to be exploited sexually and left with a lifetime of guilt and loss of trust.

From roughly the 1950s to the 1980s, child sexual abuse by clergy occurred across the country virtually unchecked. Churches hid allegations of sexual abuse, and fellow parishioners often failed to believe the victim or blamed the victim for the abuse. Victims faced significant barriers to reporting the abuse and receiving care for emotional harm. The Catholic Church put its reputation ahead of innocent victims for many years by hiding the abuse committed by its leaders.

In the past, adult victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of priests, brothers, or other clergy members would have been barred from suing the perpetrators and their employers by state statutes of limitations and repose. However, when a victim of childhood sexual abuse does not realize his or her injury, based on the mental impact of the childhood abuse and the refusal of church authorities to disclose the actions of their clergy, then the law must accommodate that plaintiff.

Hurley McKenna & Mertz is dedicated to fighting for the rights of victims of sexual abuse to finally get the truth from the religious institutions that have so often fought to protect the abusers. Our Chicago sexual abuse lawyers are experienced in handling a wide variety of sexual abuse cases, including cases against some of the most high-profile entities in the Catholic church.

The Archdiocese of Chicago

Hurley McKenna & Mertz has represented many victims of sexual and physical abuse by priests and other agents of the Archdiocese of Chicago. We obtained a record $12,000,000 settlement from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago on behalf of three children permanently injured by severe abuse by a foster parent under the supervision of Catholic Charities.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has released a list of over 55 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. It has also released secret files “relating to the sexual misconduct of 30 priests of the Archdiocese.” 

We believe information is still being withheld and that many more priests guilty of sexual abuse are not on the original list. Our mission is to force the Archdiocese to take responsibility for all priests who have abused children, including Father Daniel McCormack

As part of our mission, we have filed dozens of lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Chicago, seeking justice for the victims of sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Joliet

Hurley McKenna & Mertz filed five lawsuits in the Circuit Court of Will County, Illinois, against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet for sexual abuse of boys in the 1970s and 1980s by priests and, in one case, the principal of a Catholic grade school. 

The complaints allege that the Diocese of Joliet allowed known or suspected predators and pedophiles to meet with young boys at remote or private locations outside the presence of other adults. According to the complaints, the Diocese of Joliet knew or should have known about the risk of abuse, or actual incidents of abuse, and yet engaged in a pattern and practice of shielding pedophile priests. The Diocese thus covertly transferred pedophile priests around the diocese and out of state to protect its own interests.

In March 2013, the Diocese of Joliet released 16 personnel files of priests with substantiated allegations against them.

Fighting To Get Justice For You

Hurley McKenna & Mertz has a proven track record of achieving favorable results for our clients. 

“I honestly, to the core of my soul, believe that had we had other attorneys, our outcome would not have been in our favor—not by any stretch of the imagination. In timing, monetarily, emotionally, we would not have had near the outcome.” 

Choosing the right attorney can bring you the outcome you deserve.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic priest, other clergy member, you deserve justice. For more information about our work on these types of cases, or for a confidential, free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us at 312-553-4900 or fill out our online form.

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