top of page

Clergy Abuse Attorneys

Holding the Catholic Church Accountable

In 2018, the state of Michigan released a new set of laws extending the statute of limitations for underage victims of sexual assault. Survivors can now file a civil case for up to 10 years after the abuse. If the victim was under the age of 18 when the crime took place, they can file charges up until their 28th birthday, or 3 years after discovering they were sexually assaulted.

These new laws give survivors time to remember and process their trauma before seeking damages. They are especially beneficial to the 300+ individuals who have reported abuse at the hands of Catholic priests.

An Ongoing Investigation

Since Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel began investigating sexual misconduct in the Catholic church in 2018, she has received over 300 tips. Nessel expects the investigation to go on for about two years and reveal more than 1,000 survivors of sexual abuse.

Similar investigations are taking place nationwide, but Michigan was the first state to serve its 7 Catholic dioceses with statewide warrants. Nessel urges victims to avoid discussions with the church and instead report abuse to 1-844-324-3374 or through an online tip form.

So far, 5 former Catholic priests have been arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct.

Criminal vs. Civil Justice

While Nessel pursues criminal charges on behalf of victims, local attorneys are exploring class action lawsuits to recover compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of victims nationwide. In March of 2019, victims filed a class-action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and the U.S. Catholic Church, but no such claims have been filed in Michigan.

Catholic Clergy Abuse

Over the past decade, victims of sexual abuse have stepped forward with allegations that their abusers were Roman Catholic Church clergy and more recently, Baptist Priests. In 2018, the state of Michigan released a new set of laws extending the statute of limitations for underage victims of sexual assault. Victims can now file a civil case for up to 10 years after the abuse. Throughout the years, many have told disturbing stories of abuse that occurred while they were still children.  

These claims have led to thousands of clergy abuse lawsuits, settlements, and payouts for victims. In total, the Catholic Church has paid more than $3 billion to abused victims. Today, thousands of sex abuse victims are filing clergy abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church alone as well as the Baptist Churches.  

Victims of clergy abuse have filed lawsuits against religious orders, church leaders, individual abusive clergy members, Catholic dioceses and even the Vatican as a defendant for its role in the sexual abuse. Many recent lawsuits against the church and individual abusers have demonstrated it is possible for victims to recover substantial amounts of money and to achieve meaningful relief that helped to prevent clergy abuse. 

There is a time limit for filing a clergy sexual abuse claim. Time limits for filing clergy sexual abuse claims vary from state to state, so it’s important to consult with an experienced clergy abuse attorney when considering filing a legal action against individual clergy or the church.  

When Clergy Abuse Claims Must Be Filed? 

Michigan laws have now rectified clergy sexual abuse claims. According to Michigan Compiled Law 600.5851b, instances of sexual abuse that violate the criminal code have their own special statute of limitations.  

In the state of Michigan, under this statute, at any time before their 28th birthday, a plaintiff may bring a claim for any actions that occurred while they were a child. In other cases, they may file a claim within three years of discovering the abuse or making a connection between an injury and criminal sexual conduct.  

Can You File a Lawsuit Against A Dead Priest?  

Did the priest pass away? If so, then you can still file a lawsuit. If the priest who abused you has died, you may be able to file a priest sex abuse lawsuit by suing the deceased priest’s estate. However, many victims choose to file civil claims against the Catholic diocese or church where their abuse took place. 

Taking Action 

If you are looking to pursue a clergy sexual abuse claim, an attorney at the Oliver Bell Group, can help. We will guide you through each step of this process and work to determine if you have a case. We would not charge any legal fees until you receive your settlement check. 

At Oliver Bell Group, we have dedicated most of our practice to mass torts, and we are passionate about helping victims who have been harmed by unscrupulous and seemingly untouchable institutions.  

If you have been harmed by sexual abuse or misconduct from Catholic clergy members in Michigan, there are 2 steps you need to take to pursue justice: 

  • Report the crime to Attorney General Nessel’s office by phone or online (above). 

  • Contact our attorneys today. If you feel comfortable, we can get you started with a confidential, free consultation. 

Even with an extended statute of limitations, the clock is ticking.

Call or send us a message for a free consultation with the Oliver Bell Group, representing cases nationwide. 

bottom of page