REPRESENTING CHILD SEX ABUSE VICTIMS
Diocese releases lists of ‘credibly accused’ clergy
Although the information is decades old, on July 1st, 2019 the Diocese of Providence released lists of ‘credibly accused’ priests, deacons and religious.
The lists are broken into categories, separating living as opposed to deceased clerics, and stating their date of birth and date of “Removed from Ministry”
We commend the Diocese for releasing this list, albeit decades after the fact. Victims tend to blame themselves, and hide their status as a victim of such misconduct, often because of self-doubt, and shame.
I cannot stress enough that such feelings of shame, though understandable, and clinically documented, are misplaced. The persons who should be ashamed are the perpetrators, including those who enabled the abuse. Victims can find solace in the fact that their perpetrator has been credibly accused, and this may enable them to come forward. So public affirmation of the misconduct of its clerics is a positive step for the diocese.
As difficult as it may be, parents should review this list. No one wants to see a name there that is familiar to their family, but this information is important to protecting children, including adult children who have lived with secrets for decades, believing that they had to remain silent.
The list raises as many questions as it answers, however, and indeed is troubling.
The diocese is listing priests as the subject matter of ‘credible’ accusations and indeed removed, although this diocese had publicly denied having such allegations regarding those same priests in court.
The legal implications of their duplicity are presumably another chapter in this saga, part of which is being written with intense, global media coverage including insight from Tim:
Australian Public Radio incorporates last nights’s interview with Tim, with a comprehensive report placing ‘the list’ in the context of their public inquiry released July 3, 2019.
The Providence Journal on July 2, sifts through our litigation a decade ago to discover and spotlight the contradictions between ‘the list’ and the Diocese prior disclosures regarding the scope of the problem – quoting Tim calling out the ‘hubris’ of the Diocese efforts to make themselves ‘judge and jury’ on the issue of credibility.
Click here to read the Providence Journal article immediately following the release of the list, including comments from Tim.
Sex Abuse Lawsuits in Rhode Island and Connecticut
My work on behalf of sexual abuse victims grew out of my early work representing children. I had my first clients in 1982, as an Assistant Public Defender, representing children who were alleged to be wayward or delinquent in the Family Court.
I found that many of my clients were victims of abuse, and that the most difficult cases were not murders or B&E’s, but the cases in which the child I represented was himself or herself a victim of abuse. These children often had profound treatment needs, and were uncooperative with what little treatment was available. Frequently, they were in a downward spiral of acting out, which the system responded to with increasingly putative measures, and narrowing treatment options.
Fighting Against the Sexual Abuse of Children
What was truly disturbing was that children were sometimes abused in the system. Group homes and residential facilities, often short-staffed and under budgetary pressure, occasionally failed to provide appropriate supervision. Although these breakdowns may have been statistically rare, they wrought horrific damage on already damaged children.
When representing victims of abuse, I would accomplish little simply defending them on their latest in what could be a never-ending series of disruptive offenses – breaking into their parent’s home to steal a clock radio was typical. The conduct was criminal, but the crime was not the problem.
Instead, I found more was accomplished by focusing on “the best interests of the child,” such as:
- Getting treatment for the child
- In cases where a client was abused in care, that meant going after the care provider.
The Family Court was there for just that purpose.
When I entered private practice in 1987, a partner asked me to handle representation of 3 students that were sexually abused by a teacher. Since that time, I have handled civil sexual abuse cases in a variety of contexts, including residential care facilities, treatment providers, child care officials, and more recently clergy abuse and the Boy Scouts.
My office has represented adult victims of sexual abuse by a professional – for example a doctor. Our lawyers have represented offenders only in narrow circumstances – for instance, one offender was seeking to use a portion of inherited funds to establish a trust for his victim.
We are presently engaged in settlement negotiations of several dozen clergy abuse cases in this state.
Contact Our Sexual Abuse Attorneys for Help
Our team of Rhode Island lawyers can explain to you more about your case and how we can help your family get through this difficult time.
If you wish to inquire about the availability of services, you may contact us online or call (401) 216-4414.