Sexual Abuse By Clergy Must Be Addressed By U.S. Churches & Religious Organizations, Says Texas Lawyer

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"Churches and other religious organization must confront the problem of sexual abuse by clergy members; the negative effects of clergy abuse cannot be overstated,” says Houston attorney Brad Wyly, founder of the Wyly Law Firm, P.C.

Brad T. Wyly

Churches and other religious organizations need to ensure the relationship between clergy and children is not abused.

Churches of all denominations must confront the problem of sexual abuse by clergy and other religious leaders and work harder to protect victims of abuse rather than the abusers, Texas attorney Brad T. Wyly says.

“Religious leaders occupy positions of substantial power and authority. Children are taught to trust and obey them,” said Wyly, founder of the Wyly Law Firm, P.C. which represents victims of personal injury, including clergy abuse. “Churches and other religious organizations need to ensure the relationship between clergy and children is not abused. Sexual abuse of a minor is a particularly horrendous crime that can affect youths psychologically and physically for the rest of their lives.”

Wyly said documents that show Catholic Church leaders allowed a predatory priest to molest deaf boys for decades despite numerous complaints serves as a glaring reminder of the devastating consequences of a religious organization’s failure to address this problem.

According to church records published as part of a March 24, 2010 New York Times article, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy admitted to a counselor that he had sexually abused dozens of boys — perhaps upwards of 200—while ministering at a school for the deaf near Milwaukee, Wisconsin from the 1950s to 1970s. Despite numerous complaints about Murphy’s conduct to three archbishops and law enforcement officials, he was never defrocked and instead quietly transferred to another community where he continued to work in parishes and schools until his death in 1998.

Children who are victims of sexual abuse can experience difficulty in developing positive relationships and often experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involving terrifying flashbacks and nightmares in which they relive the ordeal. Victims of sexual abuse often experience social withdrawal, have problems sleeping, have trust issues and may develop chemical dependency issues.

“Lawsuits against those responsible for clergy abuse can bring about change. They can help ensure that the person responsible for the abuse is removed from his position of power so that he can never hurt another child,” Wyly said.

“Victims of clergy abuse may also be able to pursue compensation from those responsible while preserving their privacy. This can be done either through pursuing settlement negotiations with the church or religious organization responsible for the abuse out-of-court or by guarding the privacy of the victim through a motion to seal court records from the general public. Privacy concerns should not prevent someone from holding those responsible for sexual abuse accountable,” Wyly said.

About the Wyly Law Firm, P.C.:

The Wyly Law Firm, P.C., is dedicated to helping people who have suffered a personal injury including sexual abuse. The firm investigates allegations of sexual abuse and pursues civil actions against abusers and any third party that failed to protect innocent victims. The service we provide is confidential and focuses on doing what is best for you the client. The firm, based in Houston, represents clients throughout Texas.

Brad T. Wyly, the founder of the law firm, is a skilled negotiator and lawyer. He was named as a Rising Star in Law & Politics magazine in 2005 and 2006. Mr. Wyly may be contacted at 713.574.7034 for a private and confidential consultation.

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