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The recent Penn State sex abuse scandal and the Philadelphia Catholic church sex abuse cases show just how common child sex abuse is. Many victims have tremendous difficulty coming to terms with the abuse, let alone deciding to seek justice for the acts perpetrated upon them. Victims of child sex abuse who decide to seek justice have many questions about what is involved in the civil justice process. Below is an explanation of the process.

What is Involved in a PA or NJ Civil Child or Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Below is a basic outline of the steps involved in a child or priest sex abuse civil lawsuit:

1. Analyze the statute of limitations

This is perhaps one of the most important parts of a child sex abuse case. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for civil cases based on child sexual abuse which occurred while the victim was under the age of 18 is the victim’s 30th birthday. So, a victim of child sex abuse has until their 30th birthday to file suit. However, this rule only applies to cases where the victim turned 18 after 2002, when the statute of limitations law was amended. For victims who turned 18 before 2002, the statute of limitations has likely passed, absent fraudulent concealment on the part of the defendant.

Under New Jersey law, the statute of limitations in civil child sex abuse cases is basically when the victim discovered the connection between the abuse and the damage, i.e., emotional trauma.

Statute of limitations questions are very complex and require analysis by an attorney who has experience in handling these kinds of cases.

2. Identify all parties

Many victims are surprised to learn that the abuser is not the only person who can be held liable in a civil action. In these kinds of cases, it is important to send a message to institutions, businesses and other individuals who negligently allow child sex abuse to occur or continue.  Such defendants can include:

  • churches,
  • private organizations,
  • schools,
  • hospitals, and more.

3. File the complaint

Filing the complaint is the beginning of the lawsuit. This document names the defendants, details the abuse and details the damages the abuse caused. The victim’s name can be redacted in the complaint to protect privacy.

4. Engage in discovery

Discovery is the exchange of documents and evidence and also includes depositions of not only the abuser, but others who allowed the abuse to continue.

5. Resolve the case

After discovery is completed, the parties may settle the case or continue forward to trial. The majority of cases will settle prior to trial.

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For more information, contact the Pennsylvania and New Jersey priest and clergy abuse lawyers at LBK. Click To Call

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Published: July 30, 2012