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December 9th, 2013

What happens in a civil priest/pastor sex abuse lawsuit?

The first step in any civil lawsuit is filing the Complaint. This document details the allegations of the priest/pastor’s sexually abusive conduct, and will be filed usually in the county where the abuse occurred, where the church is located or where the priest lives at the time of the filing of the Complaint. In many priest/pastor sex abuse cases, the church organization will also be named as a defendant. Allegations against a church organization usually include unreasonable failure to protect the victim (i.e., negligently failing to investigate or report the abuse) and/or actively concealing the abusing priest/pastor.

Related FAQ: I was abused by a priest when I was in school. Can I bring a civil lawsuit for the abuse?

After the Complaint is filed and served (i.e., the defendants are given formal notice of the lawsuit), the case will begin. First, the defendants will answer the Complaint. Thereafter, the parties will conduct discovery. This includes exchanging tangible evidence and answering written questions about the facts and circumstances related to the case. For example, the parties will exchange witness information and documents such as medical records or school records.

The discovery process also includes depositions, whereby attorneys depose the parties and any important witnesses. The plaintiff-victim will give a deposition, during which they will testify about the sexual abuse and how it has affected them. The priest/pastor will be deposed as well. Read more about what to expect in a priest/pastor sex abuse case.

After the discovery process is complete, the parties will begin trial preparations. Depending on local court procedure, a settlement conference may be required. The parties may reach an agreement and settle the case or proceed to trial. In many civil cases, such as a priest or pastor sex abuse case, a trial may be necessary. Rest assured, priests, pastors and church organizations will defend themselves rigorously. Therefore, a trial may be necessary. Click here to read about how civil sex abuse cases can be resolved.

Priest & Pastor Sex Abuse Lawyers. Representation by a Former Prosecutor

Guy D’Andrea, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now represents victims of sexual abuse in the civil courts. For more information about church or priest sex abuse cases, click here. FREE CONSULTATIONS: 800-220-7600.

Our attorneys represent sex abuse victims in the following areas: Allegheny County, PA; Berks County, PA; Bucks County, PA; Chester County, PA; Delaware County, PA; Lehigh County, PA; Montgomery County, PA; Northampton County, PA: Philadelphia County, PA; Atlantic County, NJ; Burlington County, NJ; Camden County, NJ; Cumberland County, NJ; Gloucester County, NJ; Salem County, NJ; New Castle County, DE; he County, DE; Atlantic City, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Newark, NJ; Doylestown, PA; Media, PA; West Chester, PA; Norristown, PA; Camden, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Newark, DE; Georgetown, DE; and New Castle, DE. Our lawyers can obtain special admission in other states such as New York and Delaware on a case by case basis.

**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.