Clergy Abuse / Sexual Abuse of Minors

Recent developments in Maryland law have opened the courthouse doors to survivors of child sexual abuse.

On April 11, 2023, Governor Wes Moore signed the Child Victims Act of 2023 (CVA) into law. The CVA eliminates the statute of limitations and the statute of repose for survivors of child sexual abuse, permitting survivors to pursue civil claims against individual perpetrators and the organizations or entities who facilitated the abuse, regardless of when the abuse occurred. This new law goes into effect on October 1, 2023.

The CVA represents an important step to providing justice and healing to survivors of child sex abuse. While every survivor has their own individual experience of abuse, a common thread in many survivor’s stories is difficulty reporting the abuse. One study shows that the average age at the time of reporting abuse is 52. [1] The CVA revives claims that were barred under the previous law, allowing survivors to hold perpetrators, and the institutions that have enabled their abuse, accountable.

Our multi-faceted team of attorneys is uniquely positioned to help survivors navigate the many issues and challenges that arise in claims involving child sexual abuse. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience advocating tirelessly on behalf of survivors, and we have been recognized as national leaders in crime victim rights. More than that though, we recognize the significant trust a client places in us when they hire our firm, and we are committed to handling each case with skill, vigor, and compassion.

Attorney General’s Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore

Governor Moore signed the CVA into law shortly after the release of the Attorney General’s 463-page report [2] on clergy sexual abuse in Baltimore’s Archdiocese. The report details accounts of abuse perpetrated by over 150 priests, deacons, sisters, and non-clerical employees over whom the Archdiocese either had oversight or possessed records related to their abuse. Over 600 children are known to have been abused by the individuals referenced in the report, but this most likely represents only a fraction of the total number. As the Attorney General’s report notes, reporting rates are generally low: U.S. Department of Justice statistics show that only 22.9% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported in 2020. For sexual assaults committed against children, reporting rates tend to be even lower, particularly if the abuser was someone known to them.

The Attorney General’s report reveals the gravity and pervasiveness of abuse taking place in some of Maryland’s most trusted institutions. If you or a loved one is a survivor of clergy or other childhood sexual abuse, you are certainly not alone.

Survivors of child sex abuse often experience profound physical, emotional, and psychological harm. This harm may persist throughout their lives, and initiating a civil action against an abuser can feel daunting and overwhelming, even if the abuse occurred many years ago. In all of our survivor’s rights cases, we are dedicated to advocating for and working alongside clients to help them achieve justice and closure. Far too many survivors experience re-victimization through our justice system. We strive to provide individualized guidance and support to clients throughout the legal process. We also understand that healing is just as important as seeking justice, and we help clients navigate the legal system with that in mind.

If you are a survivor of child sex abuse, we are here to help. Please reach out to schedule a confidential consultation.

Resources for Survivors

National Sexual Assault Hotline at RAINN, the Rape and Incest National Network at 1-800-656-4673
RAINN connects callers to a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in the area. They can help provide access to a range of free services including:

  • Confidential support from a trained staff member
  • Support finding a local health facility that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and offers services like sexual assault forensic exams
  • Someone to help you talk through what happened
  • Local resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
  • Referrals for long term support in your area
  • Information about the laws in your community
  • Basic information about medical concerns

National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453

Victims of Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Hotline: 410-576-6312

Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault:
Maryland’s Rape Crisis and Recovery Centers provide confidential services to adult and child victims, as well as families, partners, and loved ones:

  • Crisis intervention, counseling, and referral.
  • Victim accompaniment to hospitals, police interviews, and court to provide support and information about options.
  • 24-hour Crisis Hotline with counselors trained to listen and offer information.
  • Individual, group, and family psychotherapy.
  • Assistance navigating the legal and judicial systems.

[1] Delayed Disclosure: A Factsheet Based on Cutting-Edge Research on Child Sex Abuse, CHILDUSA, March 2020.

[2] Attorney General’s Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, April 2023.