California Child Sexual Assault Attorneys

Are Issues Resolved a Decade After the San Diego Diocese Lawsuit?

Ten years ago 144 adults won a major lawsuit settlement against the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. The church agreed to pay $198.1 million dollars to the victims, who were sexually abused as children by priests. Today, abuse survivors continue to heal and wonder: is the Catholic Church doing enough to protect children from future abuse?

According to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the dioceses leadership implemented reform to prevent future abuse. The reform includes education to recognize inappropriate behavior for Catholic school students. Information is provided to parents discussing warning signs of child sexual abuse. Fortunately, the church now requires background checks for every employee and clergy member.

The church has made major staff changes, replacing the victims assistant coordinator and members of the Diocese Review Board. The board reviews child sexual abuse allegations against church employees. The board includes all types of people such as a pastor, a therapist, a sex crime prosecutor and a sexual abuse survivor. Allegations are not only sent to the board, but to a private investigator. The private investigator examines evidence and interviews, submitting the report to authorities.

Allegations of child sexual abuse continue

Problems in the church remain, even after changes were made to mitigate abuse. In the past five years there have been five new allegations of child sex abuse and an additional five that happened decades ago. Some of the cases were dismissed among the Diocese Review Board, while it was recommended that the diocese fund the victim’s counseling in many other cases.

This board, run by the church, is a completely separate process from criminal and civil proceedings. Victims of abuse can choose to hold the church accountable separately in lawsuits. The public nature of a lawsuit often intimidates child sexual abuse survivors. Fortunately, a lawsuit can be filed anonymously, without names being released on public record. A lawsuit can shed light on censored injustices while offering the victim a further measure of healing.

Survivors are still healing

A decade later, survivors of abuse by the San Diego Diocese are glad to see abusers held accountable, yet still fight to heal every day. It has taken years to process feelings of guilt and pain. However, survivors who stepped forward against the abuse may have protected other potential victims.

Brave survivors from the 2007 lawsuit demanded accountability of the diocese, which in turn propelled change. The church has made significant changes in education and accountability. The lawsuit itself created awareness about the issue for parents. The actions of the survivors not only stood for justice, but may have saved future potential victims from abuse.