The Catholic Church has approved a settlement, including an apology letter from a priest in another state, who was accused of misusing millions in church money and sexually harassing fellow clerics, the Washington Post has reported. This is just the latest in a string of sexual abuse claims over the years made against those who are expected to provide spiritual comfort and advice.
Ocean City Police Department detectives in 2009 arrested a 64-year-old suspect after receiving a complaint of the sexual abuse of a minor alleged to have taken place in Ocean City, Maryland between 1977 and 1982, involving a former priest.
In another instance, a famous news anchor has said that he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest while he was a high school student living in Towson. The accused abuser pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse charges in 2006 and received a five-year jail sentence with all but eighteen months suspended.
The Catholic Church is not alone in grappling with sexual abuse. It occurs in all religions and faiths. A study indicates that 10 to 20 percent of all clergy, that includes priests, ministers, pastors, imams and rabbis, have had sexual contact and involvement with their followers.
An important development in clergy sex abuse cases is that many states are extending the statute of limitations for bringing forward such claims. Maryland enacted a law in 2017 that lengthened the deadline for Maryland sex abuse victims to take offenders and the institutions alleged to be involved to court. The law extended 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.
The Maryland state legislator who sponsored the law said he introduced the change in the statute of limitations because he was a victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of his foster father.
The longer time limit for making a claim is especially important in instances of sexual abuse by a trusted Maryland spiritual advisor or member of a religious institution. Many people are hesitant to come forward to make a claim because of the trust they have in their schools and places of worship and the standing the institutions have in the neighborhood.
The law recognizes that many victims of child sex abuse need time to process what happened to them before taking action against their abusers.
If you need a lawyer because of a sex abuse crime in Maryland, you should talk to an Ocean City/Baltimore sex crime attorney. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling these cases.
The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Ocean City and surrounding areas, Baltimore city and Baltimore county legal needs. We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 410-881-4022, the law office at 410-881-4022 or via our website for a free consultation.