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USAG sexual assault attorney Mick Grewal discusses the global crisis of child sexual abuse by Catholic Church priests, cardinals and other high-ranking officials.

The Catholic Church sexual abuse allegations in the U.S. may be more conspicuous than in other nations – especially given the lack of action and response from the Catholic Church – and the “sophisticated criminal cover up” by the Church. However, more and more sexual abuse allegations from around the world are coming to light, and it is clear that the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal is a global crisis.

Instances of alleged child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, nuns and other members of the Church’s hierarchy in the 1900s and 2000s have been widespread and have led to many investigations, trials and convictions, all of which has revealed decades of attempts to cover up the reported cases of sexual abuse.

Decade after decade, Catholic bishops, priests, nuns and high-level leaders tried to hide allegations of sexual abuse to protect the Church’s reputation and to shield it from financial liability. The Church failed to report accused clergy to appropriate authorities, including police, used confidentiality agreements to keep victims silenced, and sent priests to so called “treatment facilities” – and then allowed the offenders to return to the Church and the ministry.

The Vatican / Holy See has a history of failing to comply with its obligations under International Law by not submitting reports as required under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Catholic Church’s hierarchy – all the way to the top – has a history of taking any and all steps to minimize criminal sanctions and the amount of compensation the Church has to pay to survivors of sexual abuse. The Catholic Church’s leaders have also spent decades accusing Survivors of lying – even in the face of very strong evidence. Not only has the Church moved alleged abusers from one location to another (usually with no investigations), thereby allowing abuse to continue, but the Church has also allowed those involved in concealing or covering up suspected abuse to continue in the ministry.

In 2010, Keith Porteous, a representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, spoke at a United Nations conference, and said that his organization had begun a campaign to “shame the UN and the international community into calling the Vatican into account.”

This week, the Roman Catholic Church in Poland released results of a study that revealed that over a period of 28 years (from 1990 – 2018), church officials received reports of child sexual abuse that involved 382 priests who were suspected of abusing 625 children, most of whom were under the age of 15.

Earlier this month, a French Catholic cardinal, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, offered his resignation after being found guilty of covering up sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese who had sexually abused dozens of Boys Scouts in the 1980s and 1990s.

In December, 2018, the highest ranking Australian Vatican official, Cardinal George Pell, was convicted of molesting two boys in 1996 – and was only sentenced to 6 years. In 2013, a study revealed that 7% of all Catholic priests in Australia were “alleged perpetrators of child sex abuse.” Some 4,444 claimants alleged incidents of abuse during a period from 1950 – 2015.

In addition to Poland, France, Australia and the U.S., Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guam, India, Ireland and Norway have all had public revelations of prevalent sexual abuse of children by Catholic church clergy.

Alaska, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan and Oregon are some of the states that have been in the news recently regarding wide-ranging child sexual abuse by Catholic church clergy. In New York, for example, over 100 priests who were accused of sexually abusing children were named in a list which was provided by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. This list covers decades of sexual abuse allegations involving priests who served in many different parishes, as well as some of the most elite Catholic schools in New York.

This week, our client, Greg Guggemos Kewadin, wrote an opinion piece for the Traverse City Record – Eagle. In it, he discusses the Vatican’s recent (and first) summit on sexual abuse. Kewadin is a Survivor of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. In his piece, which is titled “Smoke and Mirrors,” Kewadin expressed disappointment in the summit, finding that a summit should not be necessary because the solution to the Catholic church sexual abuse scandal is simple: “mandatory disclosure to civil authorities of any sexual abuse claim as soon as the claim is made to the church.” Kewadin expressed the view of many when he wrote that the Church has no right to determine the credibility of sexual abuse allegations, and that abusers reviewing a claim against an abuser is absurd. Kewadin gives “[k]udos to AG Nessel and her investigation into the cover-up scandal in Michigan.”

Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel has accused leaders of the Catholic Church of not cooperating with law enforcement. In a statement directed towards Survivors of abuse, Nessel encouraged the Survivors to speak with state investigators rather than Catholic officials, telling them that nondisclosure agreements are being used to discourage Survivors from speaking with authorities. Nessel advised Survivors to “ask to see their badge and not their rosary” if investigators come to their door.

The number of sexual assault allegations against Catholic Church clergy is growing.  As shocking as the statistics of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are, experts have stated that the number of victims of abuse by Catholic clergy is underestimated.  Reports from around the world have expressed the feeling that Catholic priests, cardinals and other clergy preyed upon the most vulnerable children.

The sexual assault attorneys at Grewal Law, PLLC, have been fighting for the rights of victims for decades, and they have made it their mission to stop institutional involvement in sexual abuse.  Grewal law represented one third of the survivors in the MSU and Larry Nassar lawsuits, and were instrumental in obtaining the $500 million settlement.  The attorneys at Grewal Law are currently fighting to hold USAG accountable for its role in allowing the sexual abuse to occur. Grewal Law is largely involved in helping over 100 Survivors in the case against USAG, and Grewal Law attorneys are available 24/7 to help anyone who has questions about this lawsuit.

The sexual assault attorneys at Grewal Law understand what it takes to prevail against large universities and corporations.  Please contact the firm’s experienced lawyers for information regarding sexual assault support groups, and/or for a free consultation.  The sexual assault attorneys at Grewal Law are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you.

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