Victims of Priest Abuse in Illinois

In recent years there has been significant progress in bringing the ongoing crisis of clergy sexual abuse to light. Films and documentaries like Spotlight and Procession are exposing the rampant problem of sexual abuse of children and young adults in all kinds of faith institutions.

A growing number of courageous victims are coming forward to share their harrowing stories of abuse and bring their perpetrators—and the institutions that protect them—to justice.

If you have suffered priest abuse in Illinois or were abused by a trusted clergy member of any faith organization, it’s important to know you are not alone.

Call the expert attorneys at Saunders & Walker P.A. now at 1-800-748-7115 for a free, confidential consultation.

How the Brain Suppresses Traumatic Memories

Scientists and psychologists today have a better understanding of how the brain deals with traumatic events. In the past, people who have come forward with abuse allegations were often blamed for not speaking out sooner. But today we know that the brain can literally “lock away” painful or traumatic memories, making them inaccessible in a normal state of consciousness.

This means victims of sexual abuse may not become consciously aware of the abuse they suffered until many years or decades after it occurred. Even those who haven’t repressed memories of sexual abuse often still need many years to process what happened to them. Some undergo years of counseling before they are ready to share their stories.

Given this new understanding of how the brain processes trauma, it seems clear that people who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members should be able to come forward at any age. Unfortunately, the laws in many states do not allow this.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

Each state has a set time limit for how long sex abuse victims have to file a claim. This is called a statute of limitations. Whether a person can sue the Catholic Church or other faith organization in Illinois for clergy sexual abuse depends on the state’s statute of limitation laws.

If you are a victim of child sex abuse or inappropriate behavior at the hands of a clergy member, you should contact an experienced sexual abuse attorney to determine whether your claim is within the statute of limitations.

The expert attorneys at Saunders & Walker P.A. can help you determine whether you have a claim. Call 1-800-748-7115 to speak with an attorney confidentially.

Illinois Statute of Limitations Laws for Clergy Sexual Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), child sexual abuse is a significant but preventable public health problem.

Many statute of limitations laws don’t provide adequate time for childhood victims of sexual abuse to come forward with claims against their abusers. Thankfully, Illinois has some of the most progressive laws in the country.

Legislators in the state have been very proactive in passing a number of changes to statute of limitations laws that help victims of childhood sexual abuse.

  • In 2014, after more than 10 years passing progressive legislation to protect victims of childhood sexual abuse, Illinois completely eliminated the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims. This means that individuals who were sexually abused as minors likely still have a claim against their abuser, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Even if the abuser is deceased, victims may be able to file a claim against the responsible organization, whether it’s a church, synagogue, mosque, or other faith organization.
  • In 2017, Illinois eliminated the statute of limitations for all felony and misdemeanor child sexual abuse offenses. This replaced an earlier law that only gave childhood sexual abuse survivors 20 years after they reached age 18, or five years after they discovered that sexual abuse occurred and caused them injuries, to file a claim against their abuser.

Pursuing a Claim Out of Court

Several dioceses around the country have set up independent compensation programs that allow victims to file claims directly with the Catholic Church outside of court.

Claims are reviewed by an independent claims administrator, who then decides whether a claim is eligible for compensation through the program. These programs have application deadlines, and not all dioceses in Illinois have set up this type of settlement program.

Talk with an attorney before filing a claim. An experienced clergy sexual abuse attorney can help you understand all your options, so you can decide how to move forward with confidence.

Sexual Abuse Lawyer for Illinois Clergy Abuse Victims

If you or a loved one is a victim of childhood priest abuse in Illinois, whether by the archdiocese of Chicago or another Illinois diocese, the compassionate attorneys at Saunders & Walker P.A. can help you understand all your options.

We’ve helped numerous victims of clergy sexual abuse get compensation for their injuries. Call us now at 1-800-748-7115 for a free, private consultation.