Saunders and Walker Class Action Law Firm
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Physical & Sexual Abuse Attorney


The year 2019 ushered in a nationwide trend in the U.S. to open statutes of limitations to allow survivors of childhood sex abuse to bring lawsuits against sexual predators and against the organizations that covered up and enabled the predators. California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona have recognized the unfairness of these statute of limitations laws and opened look back windows to allow cases no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Many other states including Pennsylvania are considering opening look back windows and extending the statute of limitations for abuse that occurs in the future.

The Catholic Church, in particular, has proven that it continues to put protection of its priests ahead of the safety of children.

No bishop has ever been held accountable by Rome for covering up or moving pedophile priests. Several bishops who were under fire including Bishop Finn of Kansas City were allowed to resign from their posts without any clear reason or any condemnation for their acts. The Nuncio from Santo Domingo who was about to be charged by local prosecutors for soliciting sex from young boys was recalled to Rome and given diplomatic immunity from Dominican prosecutors.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis has been rocking the traditional boat in Rome on other issues and we are hoping that he will take action here. Survivors of priest sex abuse in the United States have been filing lawsuits for compensation and to protect other children from abuse. This has raised awareness of the extent of the crimes that have been committed by Catholic priest against children for decades and likely hundreds of years.

For example, if one were to state 15 years ago that Catholic priests were raping young boys in every city in the world he or she would not have been believed and such a statement would have been considered ridiculous. Now, as a result of brave survivors coming forward and telling their stories it is clear that rapes of young boys has occurred and is still occurring in every city in the world.

It is time for Pope Francis to take definitive action to punish priest and the bishops who protected and enabled them to rape children.

When the Boston Globe started reporting about Catholic priest sexual abuse in January 2002, no one knew the problem was near epidemic proportions.  Each day brought new and gruesome stories of the victimization of young, innocent children who had suffered at the hands of a priest abuser.

When I first encountered the problem I was horrified.  The young men who came in to my office that day were in their late 20’s and early 30’s.  They recounted to me the horrible abuse each of them had undergone at the hands of their priest.  I immediately called the local police.  Today, that priest is serving a 30 year prison term as punishment for his crime.  I was able to help these young men obtain counseling and compensation for their suffering.

Yet many people still suffer in silence.  Many are ashamed or afraid to come forward with this tale of abuse.  Today, there are support groups and counselors prepared and able to help those victims.  I am dedicated to helping victims of abuse by a clergy member or a Catholic nun or sister.

Prompt and Confidential help

If you have suffered physical or sexual abuse recently or many years ago, help is available to you.  Please contact me at 800-748-7115 .  If you would like to email me, my address is:


Chronology of Catholic Church Priest Abuse Scandal

1985-Gilbert Gauthe, a priest in the Diocese of Lafayette Louisiana is charged and convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse of minors

1992-James Porter, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River pleads guilty to 41 counts of abuse of minors

1992-US bishops meeting in South Bend, IN admit that some bishops had attempted to hide abuse

1993-Rudolph Kos, a priest of the Diocese of Dallas faces accusations of sexual abuse of minors

1998-Diocese of Dallas forced to pay more than $31 million to the sexual abuse victims of Rudolph Kos

1999-former Boston priest John Geoghan indicted on child rape charges

2002-Vatican issues directive that all sexual abuse allegations should be reported to Rome

2002-Rev. Paul Shanley, former priest of the Archdiocese of Boston arrested, charged, and convicted of abusing numerous boys

2002-US cardinals travel to Rome for emergency meeting with Pope re. sexual abuse scandal

2002-Cardinal Law of Boston resigns as Archbishop and moves to post in Vatican

2004-John Jay Report, commissioned by the US Bishops, says more than 4,000 US Roman Catholic priests had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years, in cases involving more than 10,000 children – mostly boys

2004-Archdiocese of Portland files for bankruptcy

2007-Spokane Diocese agrees to pay sexual abuse survivors $48 million

2007-Archdiocese of Los Angeles agrees to pay survivors $660 million

Prompt and Confidential Help

If you have suffered physical or sexual abuse recently or many years ago, help is available to you.  Please contact me at 800-748-7115.

Glossary of Terms

  • Particular friendship-language which the Church uses to discuss a sexually inappropriate relationship between persons.  The term is often used to describe homosexual relationships in which clergy engage or between clergy and minors
  • Secret Archive-a confidential file mandated by Canon Law 489 where the details of illicit behavior, often sexual, are kept by the Church.  Letters from parishioners complaining about the sexual behavior of priests are kept in this file.  No one but the Bishop and his designated appointee (usually the Chancellor) have access to this confidential file
  • Chancellor-the official record keeper or secretary of the Diocese
  • Vicar General-the Bishop’s second in command who has authority to act for the Bishop in his absence or under his direction
  • Delict- a free and deliberate violation of Church (canon) law to which a specific penalty is attached
  • Ephebophilia- a term commonly used to refer to the sexual activity of an adult with an adolescent
  • Faculties-the authorization of a priest to perform certain church functions such as baptisms, marriages, etc.  Permission to grant these powers are given by a bishop and restricted to a certain area, usually the diocese in which the granting bishop resides
  • Internal forum-this pertains to the individual conscience wherein the person shares his/her most sensitive information with a priest who can never reveal what he has heard.  Such information can never be recorded or written down.  An example of this forum is the Sacrament of Reconciliation or confession.
  • External forum-matters handled in this forum include all investigations into allegations of impropriety (sexual or otherwise), canonical crimes, and all governing functions of the church
  • Grooming-a term used to describe the period in which a minor is prepared for sexual contact (abuse) by an adult
  • Incardination-a process by which every secular (diocesan) priest is affiliated to a particular diocese and owes obedience to that bishop
  • Laicization-the process by which a priest is allowed to live as a layperson.  This may be done voluntarily or involuntarily
  • Mental reservation-a tactic used by someone who one the one hand must tell the truth but is also sworn to secrecy.  Catholic moral theology allows such a tactic so that the one caught between the obligations of truth and the promise of secrecy can mislead another
  • Pontifical Secret-the highest form of secrecy in church law.  It is imposed on all who participate in the investigations of any allegations of sexual abuse of minors by a priest or religious

If you have suffered physical or sexual abuse recently or many years ago, help is available to you.  Please contact me at 800-748-7115 .

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Saunders & Walker
3491 Gandy Blvd
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
Phone: (727) 579-4500
Phone: 1-800-748-7115

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