When discussing sex abuse in the church, the Catholic Church receives a great deal of attention, but it is not the only religious institution facing lawsuits in Washington State and throughout the country for allowing its clergy to abuse children. The Presbyterian Church is also the target of sex abuse lawsuits.
A Washington sex abuse lawyer can tell you more about what you can do to hold your abuser(s) accountable and seek the justice you deserve.
Presbyterian Church Sex Abuse Cases in Washington and Around the Country
It is always intimidating to start a legal action, especially when your pain is caused by something as sensitive as sexual abuse. Remember that the abuse was not your fault, and you are not alone: others, including those discussed below, have come forward with their stories of abuse and sought fair compensation for their suffering.
Tennessee Allows a Lawsuit for Decades-Old Sex Abuse
In June 2022, the Tennessee Supreme Court allowed three men to sue a Presbyterian pastor who, they allege, raped them in the 1990s, according to the Tennessee Lookout. The suit claims that, in addition to the abuse, the church:
- Supported the pastor over the victims
- Gave this support despite knowing about previous similar allegations against the pastor
- Hid its knowledge of the pastor’s abuse rather than informing the congregation, thus putting the plaintiffs and countless other children in harm’s way
Unfortunately, the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) has done nothing to curb sex abuse since then. In June 2023, the PCA rejected various protective measures, such as background checks on pastors.
Sex Abuse Lawsuits Against Churches in Washington State
Here in Washington State, the Seattle Times reports that the Archdiocese of Seattle has paid over $116 million over forty years to people who have been abused by their Catholic priests. In 2022 alone, they agreed to pay almost $2.3 million across five different claims.
No matter which church is responsible for your abuse, you have a right to hold them legally responsible and to seek compensation for the pain they have caused.
For a free legal consultation, call 206-558-5555
How Your Washington Sex Abuse Lawsuit May Go
Embarking on any new venture is more frightening when you do not know what to expect. While everyone’s case is different, the information below is a good general guide. For more specific information, you can always consult your sex abuse attorney.
If at any time you feel you need extra support, please do not hesitate to reach out to your attorney, your loved ones, or one of the organizations in Washington State that exists to help survivors of abuse.
Building Your Case Against the Presbyterian Church
Before you even contact the church, you will want to collect enough evidence to prove that they are responsible for the losses and damages you are seeking. Your legal representative can strengthen your case with materials from:
- Other lawsuits filed against the same church, if applicable
- Your medical records
- Testimony from your family and friends
Negotiating With the Church for Sex Abuse Damages
Once your attorney has built up the strongest possible case, they can get in touch with the church’s representatives on your behalf. You do not have to speak to your abusers if you do not want to do so. Instead, you can focus on other things while your attorney:
- Meets in person with the church’s representatives
- Negotiates for the compensation you deserve
- Fights back against the church’s attempts to get out of paying your damages (e.g., if they claim you are seeking too much for medical care)
- Tells the church that you are willing to go to court if they do not settle, which may persuade them to offer you a better settlement than they would have otherwise
Taking the Church to Court in Washington State
Most sex abuse cases settle out of court. If, however, negotiations cannot get you the money you need, talk to your lawyer about going to trial. Should this step become necessary, your law firm can:
- Represent you in the courtroom
- Help you decide whether to testify and then prepare you to take the stand
- Work to persuade the jury to award what you are asking for
Damages Available to Sex Abuse Survivors in Washington State
Under state law, found at RCW § 4.16.340, you can qualify for damages if you file your lawsuit within Washington’s statute of limitations. This statute can be somewhat complex for sex abuse cases, so people who want to file lawsuits against the Presbyterian Church in Washington State should consult a lawyer to help them fully understand their rights.
Non-economic Damages for Sex Abuse Survivors
If you suffered physical and emotional pain because of the abuse, this qualifies as a non-economic damage. Specific examples include:
- Physical pain and discomfort caused by the abuse
- Any subsequent mental illness, trauma response, or difficulty maintaining healthy relationships with other people
- Reduced quality of life due to an inability to care for yourself or enjoy the full breadth of activities (e.g., going to parties, socializing) that other people do
The Presbyterian Church May Also Owe You Economic Damages
Sex abuse can have a detrimental financial impact on your life if you:
- Have to seek medical care for physical and psychological symptoms caused by the clergy’s actions
- Lose income when you are forced to take time off for doctor’s appointments or because of symptom flareups
- Struggle to maintain gainful employment or to qualify for special raises or promotions because of your symptoms
Damages Can Help You Manage Life After Church Sexual Abuse
You already know that nothing can undo the abuse or fully take away the pain you feel because of it. Financial damages can, however, make your life easier, ensuring you do not have to worry so much about money and giving you the peace of mind of knowing that your abusers have been held accountable.
We Can Help You Sue the Presbyterian Church in Washington State
Jackman Law Firm has handled sex abuse cases before, so we know how sensitive they are and how much you deserve an honest, compassionate attorney to help you deal with your own case. To learn more about filing Presbyterian Church sex abuse lawsuits in Washington State, call our team and get a free case review today.