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Church or religious organization sexual abuse victim lawyers in Virginia

Fighting for justice after unspeakable sexual abuse at a Virginia church or religious organization

A church is supposed to be a safe place for worship, ministry, and spiritual growth. We take our families to church seeking these ideals, and we often hold church leaders in high esteem as trusted pillars of our community.

When this sacred trust is violated, and a church leader or member sexually abuses someone, their actions can harm the victims for the rest their lives. Sexual crimes by clergy or church leaders are always deplorable, but particularly when the victims are children.

A victim may think it’s too late to seek justice for abuse suffered, or that it’s better to pretend that nothing happened. But this denies the victim needed care, and it lets the perpetrator and others off the hook, making it more likely that other victims could suffer in the future.

Further, what most people don’t know is: the statute of limitations for filing a sexual abuse case in Virginia for a child who was sexually abused is 20 years. For victims who were minors, the clock starts ticking when they turn 18, meaning these victims could file a case up until they turn 38 years old. Although some exceptions apply, the statute of limitations for an adult who suffered sexual abuse is two years.

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we believe that innocent victims should seek justice and make sure that the perpetrator and others responsible don’t continue hurting others. In fact, we feel called to seek justice for the innocent victims of sexual abuse, and we stand with survivors who seek accountability from the people and institutions who harmed them.

Both of our partners, Ken Gibson and John Singleton, are highly experienced in addressing the unique challenges of Virginia sexual abuse cases. Ken Gibson’s background includes extensive experience in prosecuting sexual crimes for both the United States and Virginia governments, including cases of sexual assault, human trafficking, sexual crimes against minors, and sexual assaults committed by a government official.

John Singleton has worked for large insurance companies, and on many sexual abuse and sexual assault cases during his career. Together, Ken and John will put their specialized expertise to work for you.

At GibsonSingleton, we also understand that pursuing a sex abuse claim is difficult for victims and their families. When you meet with us, we will always treat you with the utmost respect and compassion. In Virginia, we can even protect your identity throughout your case.

Call (804) 413-6777 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with us. We will come to your home if you or your loved one would feel more comfortable talking there. We will listen to your experiences and share all of your options with you. Then, you can determine what the best path forward is for you and your loved ones. In these types of cases, we are only paid when you are paid by the responsible parties.

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Sexual abuse: an enormous problem afflicting our communities

Although no one likes to think about this problem, clergy and church member sexual abuse cases have happened too many times to ignore. The Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and numerous other highly respected religious organizations have been implicated in wide-ranging sex abuse scandals involving thousands of victims.

Sadly, the pattern that emerges is often leaders in power covering up sexual abuse to protect the abusers.

For example, the Catholic Church has repeatedly transferred known abusers to different areas where they continued to harm more victims. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 300 abusive priests were eventually discovered. No one knows exactly how many children were sexually abused by these predatory priests, but a conservative estimate puts the number at more than 100,000 victims.

As another example, internal SBC documents provide an account of prolonged and ignored abuse within some Southern Baptist churches, according to the Houston Chronicle. For 20 years, leaders of this convention reportedly dismissed scandals that disrupted the lives of more than 700 victims. During this time, pastors, church leaders, and more than 100 youth pastors known to have committed sexual abuse continued to work in churches across 30 states.

Sadly, history has shown us that no one in churches or other religious organizations can be above suspicion when it comes to sexual abuse. Abusers may include all levels of church leaders or members, including:

  • Priests, pastors, or other staff members
  • Clergy of any kind
  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Ministers
  • Rabbis
  • Imams
  • Youth pastors
  • Elders
  • Deacons
  • Missionaries
  • Lay people
  • Volunteers

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How to prevent clergy sexual abuse

Sex abusers are often brilliant manipulators who know how to groom children to get what they want. These abusers thrive on secrecy, and they often tell children that they share a “special relationship” with them, and that it’s best to keep the abuses a secret. Abusers redefine reality for victims, shaping their experiences and forcing the victims to submit to their desires.

Sexual abusers believe they are entitled to act on their feelings, and they will often do whatever they can to protect themselves. When a sexual predator fears discovery, he will often turn on his victims, threatening them with embarrassment or even physical harm.

Fortunately, you and your family members have rights, and you can take steps to protect your family and your house of worship from sexual abusers:

  • Always have at least two adults present in any room or vehicle where children or youth are.
  • Have an attorney review your church’s procedures and bylaws to protect children and youth.
  • Provide criminal background checks for all employees, volunteers, and anyone who works with children or youth.
  • Check employee references carefully before hiring. Similarly, check volunteer references before allowing the volunteer to work with children or youth.
  • Don’t allow any adult to be alone with a child in a changing area or bathroom, or ideally, in any area.
  • Take precautions to make sure children in classes, daycare, or other activities are released only to authorized adults.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions of people in any position of leadership.
  • Teach your children to never allow anyone to touch them inappropriately.
  • Teach your children to always tell you if an adult is acting strangely or inappropriately, or making them feel uncomfortable in any way.
  • Teach your children that it’s inappropriate for adults to “keep secrets” with children about their behavior.

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Helping Virginia church sexual abuse victims heal

If you or your child were sexually abused in Virginia by a church leader or any individual in a position of authority at a church, you know the emotional, psychological, and spiritual harm that’s resulted. The victim will require extensive professional care and emotional assistance to begin to feel whole again.

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we believe in holding people accountable for their actions. And that includes the church officials and others who ignore or overlook sexual abuse within their organizations.

We will investigate your case to determine whose negligence was responsible for the harm that you and your family suffered. Then we’ll file claims to help you get the money needed to help the victim heal, and to help ensure that the church or religious organization does not continue to allow innocent children, youth, or adults to be harmed.

Call our Virginia church sex abuse attorneys at (804) 413-6777 for a confidential, free meeting where you can learn more about your options for getting justice and compensation for harm suffered from sexual abuse.

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Call our Eastern Virginia office today for a free consultation
at (804) 413-6777 or toll free (855) 781-6777.

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Community Service

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.