It’s tragic when a revered, global religious institution fails to protect those who come to it seeking spiritual aid and comfort. Yet, while the Catholic Church is facing widespread allegations of sexual abuse by priests, CBS News has reported that several women have come forward with stories of being sexually molested by nuns. Some say it’s the secret not yet told.
One woman said she was 15 years old when she reported alleged abuse by her uncle, a priest, to a sister at a convent in New Jersey. The woman said the priest started sexually abusing her when she was five years old. After some time went by, the woman says the nun began to supply her with drugs and alcohol and to sexually abuse her. The congregation later paid the woman $70,000 in an out-of-court settlement, according to news reports.
As yet, no one has come forward with claims that they were sexually molested by any nuns in Baltimore.
Of course, it should be noted that the Catholic Church isn’t alone in grappling with the issue of sexual abuse. A study has found that 10 to 20 percent of all religious leaders, that includes priests, ministers, pastors, imams and rabbis, have had sexual contact and involvement with their followers.
Under the sponsorship of a state lawmaker who said he was sexually abused as a foster child, Maryland enacted a law in 2017 that extends the deadline for victims of sexual abuse to take offenders and the institutions involved to court. The law extends the statute of limitations to age 38. Previously in Maryland, a person who was abused while under the age of 18 had until the age of 25 to file a lawsuit. Now, a victim has until the age of 38.
It should also be noted that Maryland has several laws that criminalize engaging in sexual behavior with a child and as well as specific laws aimed at forbidding those who work with children from taking advantage. For example, there are specific sex crime laws in Maryland aimed at teachers and other school employees. Although the age of consent in Maryland is 16, it is a criminal offense under Maryland law for teachers and school employees over the age of 21 to engage in sexual activity with school students under the age of 18 who are under the authority of the school official.
Teachers or other school employees who engage in sexual activities with students can be sentenced to up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both jail and a fine. Second convictions are punishable by up to three years in prison. People in Maryland who are convicted of subsequent crimes involving sex with underage children may be sentenced to life imprisonment. Teachers also face the loss of their license to teach if they are convicted of a sex crime.
In addition to possible jail time and fines, people who are convicted of statutory rape and related crimes are required to register as sex offenders for at least 15 years. In some instances, sex crime offenders must stay on the registry even longer — for 25 years or for the length of their life. Most offenses carry the responsibility to register every three or six months. In addition to the Maryland state database, the names of all registered sex offenders are also kept in a federal sex offender database.
If you are the victim of a sex abuse crime in Baltimore city or county, you should talk to a Baltimore city or county child sex abuse attorney. A Baltimore child sex abuse lawyer can provide you with the legal assistance you need and help you to get the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling these cases. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free consultation.