Attorney Peter Berger is a recognized leader in all forms of sexual abuse litigation. He has obtained settlements and verdicts in cases ranging from winning litigation against Bortell’s Ranch, for child sexual abuse; to successful representation of numerous altar boys, who were molested by Monsignor Zuck, in the Des Moines Diocese, resulting in significant monetary settlements, and in-person apologies by Bishop Sharon; to other successful litigation representing abused altar boys, now adults, regarding their sexual abuse in other catholic dioceses. He has over forty-two years’ experience in dealing with sex crimes. Peter Berger strives to compensate his clients through aggressive prosecution of claims against perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse and the religious and business entities that conceal and protect them, whether through fair monetary settlement, or verdict at trial.
There have been documented settlements for more than 6,000 people who allege sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. However, the number of altar boys and other affected individuals is estimated to be much higher because of cover-ups and the “systemic culture of secrecy” in Dioceses committing abuse.
Recently, on February 15, 2019, the Sioux City Diocese, in Iowa, released a list of 28 priests credibly accused of abusing minors. 13 of the priests had multiple accusers. 12 of them are listed as having abused girls; 13 abused boys; and 3 committed abuse on both. The first credible accusation was in 1948, with the most recent in 1995. There are $4.5 million known settlements paid by the Sioux City Diocese to 58 victims since 2002.
More and more incidents of abuse are now coming to light. In Texas nearly 300 names of predator priests were just released. In 2018, More than 1,000 children were molested by hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Children, because of their naivety and vulnerability, are frequent targets, but adults can be affected too. Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were even kept as sex slaves.
Those who have been affected by sexual abuse usually suffer from lasting physical and psychological symptoms, such as depression, PTSD, dissociation, and sexual disorders to name a few. Because the harm done is so great, verdicts and settlements are often substantial. Recently, four men who were repeatedly sexually abused as children by a religion teacher at a Roman Catholic Church reached a $27.5 million settlement with the Diocese of Brooklyn. BishopAccountability.org has done an excellent job of documenting examples of settlements like this.
Many plaintiff altar boys are now in their 40-50s, with some exceptions. In circumstances like these, there may be issues with Iowa’s statute of limitations. Normally in Iowa the statute of limitations is two years with some exceptions. Iowa, like many other states, permits lawsuits where it is recently learned the church has withheld information.
Not only contained to the Catholic clergy, as of April 24, 2019, more than 12,000 children involved in the Boy Scouts of America have also been reported as abused, with as many as 7,819 perpetrators reported.
If you would like more information about Mr. Berger‘s sexual abuse law practice, please request a consultation. Your privacy will be respected and your identity will remain confidential, unless you give permission and it is appropriate to do so.