The Diocese of Buffalo in New York recently announced that it’s prepared to offer $100 million to settle child sex abuse claims against its clerics. To date, the diocese has a list of almost 100 of its priests with substantiated claims, sending shockwaves through the local community and beyond.
The allegations have brought to light a disturbing pattern of disgusting sexual power play and betrayal of the very institution that was meant to protect and nurture its flock.
This article delves into the unfolding crisis, exploring the definition of “child sexual abuse,” the nature of the allegations against the Diocese of Buffalo, the survivors’ lawsuits, and the psychological impact on the victims and the community at large.
If you or anyone you know has experienced this horrible trauma, read further to find out how Mayfair Legal Funding could help you seek justice and reparations.
Dealing With Child Sexual Abuse
There are different types of child abuse. Neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and lastly, sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is defined as a form of child abuse that includes any sexual activity with a child.
Children, being minors, cannot give consent to any sexual activity.
According to research, about 65,000 children are abused in the United States each year, and approximately 1 in 4 adult women and 1 in 13 men were abused sexually as children.
If you or anyone you know has suffered this kind of abuse, we could offer financial backing to pursue your case. Mayfair Legal Funding offers financial assistance for a wide array of lawsuits, including sexual assault cases.
Child Sexual Abuse Committed By A Cleric or Religious Leader
The Diocese of Buffalo has published its own definition of “child abuse” for the guidance of its clerics and the public, which is: “causing or attempting or threatening to cause harm to a child’s health or welfare, to include damage to the physical or emotional/psychological health and welfare of a child.”
Such abuse would often “result from non-accidental physical or mental injury, incest, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, molestation, or repeated negligent treatment or maltreatment.”
Victims of child sexual abuse deal with and cope with the incident in different ways. Some may turn to substance use, violence or any other destructive behavior, while some may try to deal with it in a methodical way and even develop deeper faith in their religion.
While having faith in a higher power is all well and good, unfortunately, there are instances where someone, such as a leader in a religious organization turns out to be the perpetrator.
According to recent statistics from 2022, at religious institutions, child sexual abuse is actually the second most frequent cause of loss.
Moreover, according to the data released in the 2022 annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, nearly 2,000 victim survivors came forward with 2,704 allegations.
There were about 16 reports involving current minors, and all of the other allegations were by adults who claimed that the events happened during the time that they were children.
More Than 800 Child Sex Abuse Cases Against The Diocese Of Buffalo
In 2019, a revolutionary shift happened in the legal scene when state lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act. The law allows adult survivors of child sexual abuse to file legal action against their abusers, temporarily suspending the statute of limitations.
As hundreds of victims came forward, the Diocese of Buffalo filed for bankruptcy in 2020, which is described to be a “common move” by churches that are confronted with clergy sexual abuse scandals, WIVB.com said. Since then, plaintiffs have filed more than 800 sexual abuse cases against the diocese.
Currently, adult survivors of sexual abuse that happened in New York have until November 23, 2023, or Thanksgiving Day, to file before the window closes. However, lawmakers are reportedly planning to renew this “lookback window” under the state’s Child Victims Act.
Other Catholic Churches That Faced Sex Abuse Claims In The U.S.
Last May 2023, a news report revealed that more than 450 Catholic clergy members sexually abused thousands of children across Illinois.
The investigation was first launched by the state’s Attorney General in 2018, exposing a “troubling pattern” where church officials refused to acknowledge the truth and consistently tried to cover up the reports of alleged abuse. As a result, the victims were “revictimized.”
Similarly, Advance Media New York reported that the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese reached a settlement in a bankruptcy case to pay sex abuse survivors $100 million in July 2023.
There were said to be over 400 victims in the said settlement case, which doesn’t include the 79 survivors who had already been paid $11 million in 2019.
The Psychological Dangers Of Child Sexual Abuse
Children are innocent and fragile beings, and it is because of that innocence that they have to be protected. Growing up in a safe space is very important for their development, and child sexual abuse can be extremely damaging to the victim’s physical and psychological well-being as well as to their faith.
Some of the most common psychological dangers of child sexual abuse include:
- Suicidal tendencies
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic attacks
- Substance abuse
What Can You Do If You’ve Been Sexually Abused By A Church Leader at The Diocese of Buffalo?
To address the public’s unrest brought by these harrowing scandals, Reverend Michael W. Fisher, the bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo since January 2021, publicly said that the church has “zero tolerance” for any act of sexual abuse, or sexual harassment, toward a young person or adult.
Fisher also said that “such acts are an affront to who and what [they] claim to be as Christians and as Catholics.”
Seek Professional Counseling After Child Sexual Abuse
Being a victim of sexual abuse is never easy, especially if the victim is a child. Children perceive and understand things differently.
The church is a place where people, especially children, should feel safe. But for some nefarious reason, numerous religious leaders have used their power to sexually abuse children, and unfortunately, they often get away with it.
In unfortunate situations like this, it’s safe to say that the child victim wouldn’t know what to do. So, what are the possible treatment options for victims of child sexual abuse?
Listed below are some of the things victims of child abuse may find helpful:
- Individualized counseling sessions
- Talk therapy
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Trauma‐focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF‐CBT)
- Play therapy
Experiencing sexual abuse as a child is one of the worst things that could ever happen to someone, and not being able to speak about it and fight for your rights makes the situation a whole lot worse.
Seek Justice And File A Legal Action Against Your Abuser
Speaking up about sexual abuse is incredibly challenging, especially for children. It’s not easy to put into words the trauma you felt especially when you’re scared of being revictimized.
However, being silent and not taking action can result in more emotional and psychological issues, and not to mention letting the perpetrator walk free. Now is the time to consult with a lawyer for the best course of action.
According to NY Governor Hochul’s press release, the state has allowed any survivor to file a claim against their abusers up until the window closes on November 24, 2023.
The urgency of acting now cannot be overemphasized enough, so finding a competent and trustworthy lawyer is essential to pursue a legal claim against the Diocese of Buffalo.
Break Your Silence With Mayfair Legal Funding
In the face of this crisis, the Diocese of Buffalo must face its dark past and work toward healing and reform. It’s a heavy but necessary burden for the church’s leadership to rebuild trust and restore faith in its mission.
However, for any victim of child sexual abuse, speaking out against their perpetrators is daunting. Some of the common reasons why victims choose to stay silent are fear of victim-blaming or fear of retaliation from their perpetrator.
There may also be instances where victims blame themselves for the sexual assault or that their financial limitations hold them back. At Mayfair Legal Funding, we can offer some relief with the latter.
Our mission is to lessen the financial strain on survivors by offering litigation or pre-settlement funding before your lawsuit is resolved. You can spend the money you receive from us for legal fees, hospital bills, professional help, or daily expenses. Your funds, your rules.