Attorneys and Survivors Call for Other States to Follow Maryland’s Lead and Lift Statute of Limitations on Childhood Sexual Abuse and Assault
BALTIMORE, Md.–– The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore will be named in a series of civil actions collectively alleging that hundreds of individuals were sexually abused by clergy, seminarians, deacons, and employees of the church. Renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump of Ben Crump Law and nationally renowned sexual abuse and mass torts attorney Adam P. Slater of Slater Slater Schulman LLP said they anticipate filing hundreds of lawsuits beginning Oct. 1, 2023, upon commencement of a “lookback window” under Maryland’s Child Victims Act.
The attorneys, standing with survivors who were willing to publicly tell their stories at a news conference in front of the Baltimore Basilica today, also launched a petition calling for passage of legislation that would remove the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse across the nation. It can be found here.
Crump and Slater praised Gov. Wes. Moore and the Maryland state legislature for enacting the Child Victims Act.
“I cannot imagine a more grievous abuse of power with more soul-crushing consequences than for a spiritual leader to use his or her authority as a representative of God to sexually abuse and assault a child,” Crump said. “As these survivors will tell you, there is no statute of limitations on the pain and damage they experience because of the abuse. There should be no statute of limitations on justice.”
“Cases involving allegations of sexual abuse by clergy and religious figures are especially devastating, because they involve an added layer of shame and guilt,” said Adam P. Slater, Founding Partner of Slater Slater Schulman LLP. “For children, there is a sense of obligation to obey the abuser because of this person’s perceived moral authority and a fear of retaliation by not just the institution, but their family and community. The Maryland Child Victim’s Act allows these survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold the institution that perpetrated this abuse accountable.”
As detailed in the Maryland complaints to be filed, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore was aware of – and failed to take action to prevent – rampant sexual abuse perpetrated against children by leadership of the Catholic Church. The Diocese’ awareness and complicity was documented in a grand jury report issued by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, which found that more than 600 children have been abused by 156 church leaders. The abusers included not just clergy, priests and other church officials, but youth group volunteers, counselors, teachers, coaches, employees and other figures of authority.
“The crimes against these children were magnified by church leaders who knew what the abusers in their church were doing to children in their spiritual care and allowed it to continue – in many cases encouraging serial abuse by covering up abusers’ actions and moving them to another church where they could prey on more children,” Crump said.
The Maryland Child Victims Act was signed into law on April 11, 2023. The law allows survivors to file retroactive lawsuits, even if their claims have already expired under an existing statute of limitations. The law also eliminates the statute of limitations for all future lawsuits based on childhood sexual abuse claims.
Any other survivors of sexual abuse in Maryland by the Archdiocese of Baltimore are encouraged to come forward by calling 855-724-1140.
Survivors of sexual abuse need to understand that the sexual abuse was not their fault. Many survivors are forced to live with a lifetime of shame, embarrassment, and severe emotional distress and mental pain and suffering. Help is available.
NOTE: Individuals seeking to be linked to resources for sexual assault survivors can call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. The National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) provides confidential support from trained staff members and can assist with finding local healthcare resources, help talk through what happened, and offer referrals for long-term support.
ABOUT BEN CRUMP LAW
Through his work, nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump has spearheaded a legal movement to better protect the rights of marginalized citizens. He has led landscape-changing civil rights cases and represented clients in a wide range of areas including civil rights, personal injury, labor and employment, class actions, and more. Ben Crump Law is dedicated to holding the powerful accountable. For more information, visit bencrump.com.
ABOUT SLATER SLATER SCHULMAN LLP
Slater Slater Schulman LLP is a prominent full-service law firm with over 40 years of experience representing survivors of catastrophic and traumatic events. Our nationally renowned attorneys are committed to ensuring the best results for our clients through persistence and zealous representation. We have achieved successful resolutions in some of the most challenging cases in the industry, including complex historical sexual abuse cases involving massive institutions, including academic, religious, and youth organizations. Our firm also has been recognized for its efforts representing clients in pharmaceutical drug litigation, product liability litigation, environmental litigation, employment and labor law, medical malpractice, and personal injury, and has successfully represented thousands of World Trade Center survivors to receive compensation for their injuries. Learn more at sssfirm.com.