Clergy Abuse

Religious practice through affiliated institutions serves as a foundational facet of daily life for many Americans. Clergy members are viewed as figures of bestowed authority, who work with individual practitioners and communities alike to advance the edicts and teachings of a particular religion.  However, these trusted members of a congregation, on occasion, take advantage of their authority to exploit and sexually abuse vulnerable members. Sadly, after ample investigation, it is now apparent that sexual abuse by members of religious institutions has pervaded society for decades.

Clergy sexual abuse occurs when a member of a clergy—including a priest, bishop, or deacon—uses their power to harm, exploit and sexually abuse a member of their congregation. These acts can be carried out through overt force, threats and/or coercion. “Abuse” does not necessarily require physical contact; instead, the use of sexual language, the provision of pornographic images, gestures of a sexual nature and/or indecent exposure all qualify as misconduct. 

Multiple compensation funds have been created by dioceses nationwide in an attempt to resolve reported claims of clergy sexual abuse through monetary settlements. While not all dioceses have offered these programs, survivors of clergy sexual abuse in certain states—e.g. Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California—may still have the ability to advance their claim through a compensation fund and/or newly enacted legislation—often referred to as a Child Victims Act.  


On February 17, 2020, the Diocese of Richmond announced that it will be accepting claims from survivors of clergy abuse who have not previously settled or fully litigated a civil claim against a clergy member of the diocesan parish, church, school or other institution. The deadline to file a claim is April 3, 2020. 

New York 

Action through either a settlement program or New York’s Child Victims Act is potentially available for many dioceses, including but not limited to:


  • Archdiocese of New York 
  • Diocese of Brooklyn
  • Diocese of Buffalo
  • Diocese of Ogdensburg
  • Diocese of Rochester
  • Diocese of Rockville Centre
  • Diocese of Syracuse 


New Jersey 

Action through either a settlement program or New Jersey’s Child Victims Act is potentially available for many dioceses, including but not limited to:


  • Archdiocese of Newark
  • Diocese of Camden
  • Diocese of Metuchen
  • Diocese of Paterson
  • Diocese of Trenton



Action through a settlement program may be available through the below dioceses.  Additionally, Pennsylvania’s Governor, Tom Wolf, recently began overhauling Pennsylvania’s existing sexual abuse laws.  The proposed legislation may afford additional rights to those afflicted. 


  • Diocese of Allentown
  • Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
  • Diocese of Erie
  • Diocese of Greensburg
  • Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • Diocese of Pittsburgh
  • Diocese of Scranton



Action through either a settlement program or California’s Child Victims Act is potentially available for many dioceses, including but not limited to:


  • Diocese of Fresno
  • Diocese of Oakland 
  • Diocese of Monterey
  • Archdiocese of Los Angeles 
  • Diocese of Sacramento 
  • Diocese of San Bernardino
  • Diocese of San Diego 
  • Archdiocese of San Francisco 
  • Diocese of San Jose
  • Diocese of Santa Rosa
  • Diocese of Stockton
  • Diocese of Orange 


Slater Slater Schulman LLP is dedicated to the confidential representation of individuals who were abused as a child by a member of the clergy.  If you or someone you love has suffered this form of abuse and wishes to file a claim, please contact Slater Slater Schulman LLP for a free, confidential consultation by filling out the form on this page or by calling our office at (800) 251-6990.

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