Church sex abuse lawsuits are necessary and, unfortunately, nothing new. Clergy and others in the Protestant Church have long abused their power by taking advantage of vulnerable people in Washington State and throughout the country.
If someone within the Protestant Church manipulated and took advantage of you, a Washington sex abuse lawyer can help you seek justice and compensation.
The Protestant Church, Sexual Abuse, and Washington State Law
Throughout the United States, various branches of the Protestant Church have been tolerating and covering up sexual abuse for decades. This has led to sex abuse lawsuits in various states, some regarding abuse that occurred many years ago.
Below are some of the more high-profile cases and headlines regarding sex abuse in the Protestant Church and in Washington State.
The Southern Baptist Convention and Sex Abuse
Guidepost confirms that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has dismissed and intimidated those complaining of sex abuse for “almost two decades.” Later that same year, the FBI launched an investigation into these allegations.
The United Methodist Church and Sex Abuse
In 2021, the United Methodist Church agreed to pay $30 million over three years to compensate survivors of sexual abuse that occurred in Boy Scout programs sponsored by the church.
For a free legal consultation, call 206-558-5555
Clergy Do Not Have to Report Sex Abuse in Washington State
Washington is unique in that is one of the few states in which clergy have no legal obligation whatsoever to report sexual abuse to the authorities. Despite multiple attempts to change this law, clergy in Washington State are all too often allowed to get away with abusing children and/or protecting abusive clergy.
This kind of law can make it more challenging to pursue compensation: how can you prove the church did something wrong by protecting abusers when the law, essentially, gives them the right to protect abusers? A law firm can help you answer that question and seek the compensation you need and deserve.
Seeking Damages From the Protestant Church After Sex Abuse
Due to the church’s determination to protect abusive clergy rather than the parishioners who trust them, some people have chosen to file lawsuits against religious institutions. They often seek money for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Medical expenses
- Loss of wages
- Loss of earning capacity
Sex Abuse Law Firms Exist to Help Washington Residents Like You
To be reimbursed for damages like those listed above, you can seek the assistance of a sex abuse attorney. They can handle all aspects of your case for you, giving you more time to spend on healing. You could also spend less time worrying about legal matters or thinking about the abuse.
Among other things, a Washington law firm can:
- Assess your case over the phone for free
- Treat your case with the sensitivity and dignity you deserve
- Gather evidence from sources like testimony, church records, and medical documents to build up your case
- Deal with all paperwork, including filling out and submitting forms
- Get in touch with the church to let them know about your suit, including how much you are seeking in damages
- Meet with the church’s representatives to negotiate a fair settlement
- Take your case to court (most organizations prefer to settle out of court, so this probably will not be necessary, but your lawyer should nonetheless prepare you and themselves for this eventuality)
- Be available to you at all times and answer all questions you have about your case
What to Do if Washington’s Protestant Church Abused You
Whether the abuse is relatively recent or occurred decades ago, it can be very difficult to process, accept, and act on the knowledge that someone you trusted has committed such an unforgivable crime. Below are some resources that may help you.
Finding Support for Sex Abuse Survivors
There are many resources in Washington State that can help you cope emotionally and psychologically, including:
- The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
- 1 in 6
- Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
If you already have a therapist, keep them apprised of how you are feeling so they can more effectively support you throughout your legal case.
Hiring Washington Sex Abuse Attorneys
You cannot rely on the Protestant Church to hold abusive clergy accountable or to freely compensate you for the harm they have caused. To get the justice you deserve and protect others from predators within the church, you can hire a law firm to manage your case. In addition to handling legal tasks, they can:
- Provide reassurance and support whenever you need it
- Advise you on how to proceed with your case, especially if you have understandable trouble thinking logically and clearly about such a delicate subject
- Delay billing your attorney’s fees until you have received compensation, so you do not have to worry about where you will get the money to pay them (their fee is a percentage of your settlement rather than money out of your pocket)
The Statute of Limitations on Sex Abuse Cases in Washington
If you were sexually abused as a child, you may have more time to file your lawsuit than the victims of other crimes. Per RCW § 4.16.340, the statute of limitations—that is, the time limit in which you must start a case—does not begin until you reach adulthood.
If you have questions about when you should begin a case or what your rights are, feel free to reach out to a Washington sexual abuse law firm. Part of their job is to help people like you understand your rights under the law.
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Filing a Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against the Protestant Church in Washington State
Working to hold your abusers accountable can help you find closure, but it is not an easy process. Our team can provide the resources and support you need to get through such a legal action. Contact us for a free consultation and find out why Jackman Law Firm is worthy of your trust.