Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Sex Abuse at Southern Baptist Churches

A recent report unearthed years of child sex abuse at the hands of Southern Baptist preachers and employees. Astoundingly, the church knew of the abuse for decades, yet failed to take any real action to help victims.

The independent investigation, which can be found here: Investigation Report reveals that “survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action”…. “even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in the ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.”

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the largest religious denomination in the United States, with more than 47,000 churches. The California Southern Baptist Convention is the state convention of the Southern Baptist Convention in California. This includes 1,800 churches and approximately 450,000 members. Additionally, California Baptist University in Riverside, California which enrolls more than 11,000 students is part of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Beginning nearly two decades ago, the SBC began keeping a list of accused sex abusers within their organization. This list includes more than 409 names of people who were once actively involved in the church. Shockingly, the report goes on to find that there is no evidence the church ever “took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in a position of power at SBC.”

In addition, the report finds that victims were often minimized, seen as opportunistic or having a hidden agenda. “Abuse allegations were often mishandled in a manner that involved mistreatment of survivors.” The SBC’s main goal was “avoiding aby potential liability” for the abuse.

Under immense pressure, and after nearly two decades of keeping the names of abusers a secret, the SBC finally published the list here: SBC Link

The SBC’s motives in coming clean after all these years are unclear. Perhaps they were forced to do so under immense public pressure, or perhaps they are making an attempt to right past wrongs. Regardless, the SBC is liable to California abuse victims for failing to properly warn its congregation of harmful predators in their midst. They are liable if it can be proven that the SBC failed to protect sex abuse victims. They are liable if it can be proven that they failed to alert law enforcement of the abuse. They are liable if they failed to assist the victim.

They are also liable if it can be proven that they engaged in any sort of cover up. Under California law, if an organization knows of abuse, yet covers it up and fails to take action, the damages available to any victim are automatically trebled.

By bringing these horrendous acts into the light, victims of the SBC should feel encouraged to come forward. Whether the abuse happened recently or many years ago, victims are entitled to compensation under California law for the damage inflicted upon them.

Fortunately, with the passage of California AB 218, victims of underage Southern Baptist sex abuse have more time to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Under the new law, all child abuse victims, regardless of their current age, can file a lawsuit within the limited three-year “lookback window” which expires at the end of 2022. This means that claims previously barred by the law can now be resubmitted for consideration by the court for the next three years – until December 31, 2022.

This is an incredible opportunity for thousands of survivors who, prior to the passage of AB 218, were unable to bring a lawsuit. However, this option is only available for a limited time, and after January 1, 2023, many survivors who do not file a lawsuit will be left without legal recourse.

Even if the lawsuit is not filed within three years by the December 31, 2022 deadline, many victims will still be eligible to file suit. The new law increases the maximum age to file a claim from 26 to 40. However, for survivors who were older than 26 prior to AB 218 taking effect, this aspect of the bill would not apply and the victim would still have to file a claim within the three-year lookback window. Only survivors who were younger than 26 prior to January 1, 2020 would now be eligible to file a claim until their 40th birthday.

Regardless of the victims current age, the law also allows for a five-year time period from the date any adult discovers the underage sexual abuse, whether through psychological therapy or medical treatment. If a victim discovers a psychological illness after AB 218 taking effect on January 1, 2020, they now have five years to file a claim, no matter their current age.

While this new law is a huge win for sex abuse victims, it is important that anyone who was abused contact experienced legal counsel as soon as possible to protect their legal rights. If you or a loved one are the victim of sex abuse at the hands of anyone affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, allow us to help you with your healing process.

Craig Charles law devotes its entire practice to helping victims of sex abuse and catastrophic injuries. Our experienced team of attorneys, legal staff, investigators and mental health professionals work zealously to get you the compensation and closure you deserve.

No matter when the abuse occurred, speak with a skilled attorney immediately to understand your rights and the type of monetary damages available to you. Church sex abuse cases are highly complicated and technical. No two cases are the same. Victims of underage sex abuse deserve the best lawyer possible. Place your trust in us and allow us to achieve justice on your behalf. Call Craig Charles Law today at 424-343-0660.

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