Several investigations have uncovered the rampant problem of child sex abuse by clergy members in churches across the country, including in Arizona.
In 2019, Arizona state lawmakers passed House Bill 2466, which expanded the legal rights of child sex abuse survivors. “With this bill, Arizona is taking a stand to hold abusers accountable and provide justice to victims of child sexual abuse,” said Governor Doug Ducey at the signing ceremony.
HB 2466 benefits Arizona clergy abuse survivors in two main ways:
HB 2466 also opened a one-year “lookback window” in which any survivor, regardless of age, could file a civil claim against their abuser. The one-year lookback window closed on December 31, 2020.
The bill’s text further specifies that civil lawsuits may be filed if:
Childhood sexual conduct and childhood sexual contact have specific definitions and do not include interactions with a minor during caretaking that are recognized as normal and reasonable.
Arizona law requires that certain individuals, called mandated reporters, report sexual conduct or sexual contact with minors. The following individuals are considered mandated reporters by Arizona law:
Clergy members in Arizona are exempt from having to report information about alleged child sexual abuse to police if they gained this information during confession or confidential communication.
For example, if during confession a churchgoer reveals that they have abused a child, the clergy member is not required to report the alleged abuse to police.
Unfortunately, this rule has allowed an untold number of abusers to continue harming victims. There have been attempts to remedy this loophole by eliminating “clergy-penitent privilege,” but as of late 2022 no such law has passed in Arizona.
A statute of limitations is a legal deadline. It limits the amount of time someone can file a civil or criminal claim from the time of an alleged offense. Statutes of limitations (SOLs) vary, depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the offense.
Arizona has two main statutes of limitations for survivors of sexual abuse: one for filing a civil lawsuit and one for criminal charges.
In Arizona, survivors of childhood sexual assault have until their 30th birthday to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser. Prior to the passage of HB 2466, sex abuse survivors only had until age 20 to file a civil claim.
HB 2466 gives victims more time to process the abuse they suffered, which for many people can take years or even decades.
In Arizona, for the following felony offenses there is no legal deadline to press criminal charges against a perpetrator:
Criminal charges must be filed within 7 years for the following felony offenses:
Learn more about the statutes of limitations pertaining to sexual crimes in the state of Arizona.
Dozens of Arizona priests have been accused of abuse. ProPublica has created a searchable database with the names of those who have been credibly accused. This list is updated as new credible allegations come forward.
If no allegations have been made against the priest or clergy member who abused you, or if the person who abused you is not affiliated with the Catholic Church, you may not find their name in the database.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have a claim. You may still be able to file a lawsuit against your abuser.
Contact our clergy sex abuse attorneys at 1-800-748-7115. We can help you understand whether you may have a case.
If you or someone you love suffered priest abuse in Arizona or abuse by another clergy member, the experienced clergy sex abuse lawyers at Saunders & Walker P.A. may be able to help.
You don’t have to currently live in Arizona to file a clergy abuse lawsuit.
Additionally, you may be able to file a claim on behalf of the victim if you are their parent, legal guardian, or conservator. A victim’s estate may also be able file a legal claim on behalf of the victim.
Contact our law firm today for a free Arizona clergy abuse case review. Your confidentiality is our number one priority. Our priest abuse attorneys understand how difficult it can be to come forward regarding sexual abuse—especially in cases where abusers threaten their victims.
The shame, guilt, and fear survivors of clergy sexual abuse live with can feel overwhelming. We will treat you with the care, respect, and privacy you deserve.
There is no substitute for sound legal advice when you have been the victim of past abuse by a trusted religious figure. Contact us today at 1-800-748-7115 to speak to one of our experienced team members.
We can help you understand whether you have a claim now or in the future and provide meaningful feedback for your situation.