US Conference of Catholic Bishops Report Admits Most Clergy Abuse Claims Held by Older Adults

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Attorney Irwin Zalkin provides commentary on the recently issued US Conference of Catholic Bishops report.

In a report published earlier this week by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), dioceses in the US spent $23 million in 2008 to prevent sexual abuse (http://www.usccb.org/ocyp/annual_report2008.shtml). The report admits that most recent reports of abuse concern offenses against victims in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

"There is no doubt, and it's not surprising, that the number of claims for childhood sexual abuse against Catholic clergy has increased over the years," said attorney Irwin Zalkin of the Zalkin Law Firm. "But overall, trusting a report on childhood sexual abuse from the USCCB is like trusting a report on the health effects of smoking from a tobacco company executive. Rather than hide behind a PR smokescreen, for the benefit of believers and victims alike the Church should just be transparent -- as they keep promising they will be."

Zalkin has negotiated settlements in excess of $200 million dollars representing hundreds of victims of childhood sexual abuse throughout the country against the Catholic Diocese.

"For years, Catholic Bishops represented by the USCCB have resisted grand jury subpoenas, refused to provide records in civil lawsuits, and facilitated the escape of known perpetrators to foreign countries," explained Zalkin. "This recent report is nothing more or less than a lobbying gimmick; the Church has known for decades about the depth and breadth of the scourge of childhood sexual abuse by their priests and other religious personal."

The effects of childhood sexual abuse are so devastating that they often take years to emerge as debilitating factors in a survivor's life. So by the time many survivors first recognize these effects, their state's statute of limitations has often passed and they are unable to file a legal claim. The new expansion of the statute of limitations in NY would permit many survivors of childhood sexual abuse -- especially those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s -- their first meaningful opportunity to hold accountable the entities responsible for their suffering and to address the emotional damages they experienced in their adult lives.

"The present statute of limitations in New York does not reflect an understanding of the emotional and intellectual progression of the stages of abuse," said Zalkin. "When institutions are not held responsible the public endures the financial burden of the emotional and psychological damage that sexual abuse causes."

With offices in New York and San Diego, The Zalkin Law Firm (http://www.nyclergyabuse.com) is one of the premier sexual abuse and personal injury law firms in the country. The firm's lawyers have achieved groundbreaking results in numerous high-profile clergy abuse cases across the United States.

Mr. Zalkin is available to speak to the media about clergy sexual abuse, the USCCB report, and the Child Victim's Act of New York (A. 4560-B). Please call Lisa Maynes (212-889-1300) to arrange interviews. To speak to Mr. Zalkin about legal representation, please call The Zalkin Law Firm (212-889-1300).

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