Priest abuse is a prevalent problem around the world. Law enforcement and other authorities have continuously pushed to tackle sexual abuse allegations and cover-ups within the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. These global organizations have called for accountability and reform within the Catholic Church to prevent clergy abuse. They also seek justice for the survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
As a result, there has been a surge in priest abuse allegations. Thousands of survivors of clergy abuse have come forward to share their experiences and report abuse. It is now evident that victims of sex abuse are no longer only young girls. Young boys have also made several clergy abuse claims over the years. In addition, some clergy sexual abuse survivors have waited until adulthood to report abuse.
There is a lot of emotional and legal support for clergy abuse survivors, and rightfully so. The effects of priest abuse are devastating and life-altering. Many clergy abuse survivors suffer from emotional trauma, shame, and other psychological issues.
Consequently, they have been able to file civil claims to obtain financial compensation for the damages suffered. In addition to these civil claims, the accused priests face criminal charges for sexual abuse. Therefore, they are involved in both civil and criminal cases for clergy abuse.
However, many innocent Roman Catholic Church clergy members and leaders of religious organizations have also been subjected to unfounded accusations of sexual abuse. These allegations typically arise due to cases of mistaken identity or malicious intent. Therefore, given the sensitive nature of a clergy abuse claim, accused priests of the catholic church or other organizations must obtain legal assistance immediately.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is the clergy abuse lawyer you need if you or your loved one faces such sexual abuse claims. She can advise you on your legal options and the potential sexual assault defense strategies available to you. Contact her to schedule a confidential Michigan criminal defense attorney free consultation today.
Priest Abuse Lawyer
With clergy abuse cases on the rise, it is critical to consult an experienced clergy abuse attorney if you have been accused of sexual misconduct as a priest. The penalties for sexual abuse convictions are severe and long-lasting.
You face a potentially lengthy prison sentence, and you may also be required to pay a fine or be subjected to mandatory sex offender registration. In addition, you risk being involved in a civil lawsuit should the alleged sex abuse victims pursue legal action against you in a civil court.
Therefore, you need to hire a seasoned clergy abuse lawyer if you want to beat the sexual misconduct charges against you. At Blank Law, PC, we are committed to fighting for those accused of sex abuse allegations. Our sexual abuse lawyers serve clients in Macomb County, Wayne County, Oakland County, Ingham County, Livingston County, Lapeer County, along with all other areas in Michigan, and throughout the United States.
Our legal team works with defendants facing childhood sexual abuse claims to help them obtain the best outcome in their cases. Once you initiate an attorney-client relationship with our law firm, we will work tirelessly to ensure you get the most effective legal representation in your criminal sexual abuse case.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker of Blank Law, PC is one of Michigan’s few seasoned clergy abuse attorneys. Her experience as a former criminal prosecutor in Macomb County gives her a unique advantage as a criminal defense attorney. Nicole can help create an aggressive criminal sexual conduct defense if you face clergy sexual abuse claims. Reach out to our law firm through this online form to arrange a free consultation.
Why Sexual Abuse is Pervasive Among Priests and Other Church Employees
There have been several allegations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. The John Jay study showed that about 4% of all active Catholic priests in the United States were accused of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002. Also, Catholic dioceses maintain a list of thousands of priests convicted of child sex abuse in the United States.
Several reasons have been identified for the pervasiveness of sexual assault claims among priests in a catholic diocese and other religious leaders. Outdated sexual norms are regarded as a primary reason for clergy abuse. The Catholic Church expects clergy members in each catholic diocese to stay celibate and unmarried.
Some people believe that since clergy members often begin their celibacy journey at a young age, they are not psychologically mature enough to make such a tough decision to bind them all their lives. As a result, many of them engage in childhood sexual abuse when they become adults.
Also, priests and other church leaders may use their status or position of authority to intimidate their victims from reporting abuse. They could also employ subtle manipulation or threats to get them to keep quiet. Additionally, survivors of clergy sexual abuse might hesitate to disclose the behavior out of concern that their community will not accept them or might even turn on them. Catholic priests hold a lot of influence inside their communities. Parishioners regard them as trustworthy men with divine authority.
Therefore, the criminal justice system imposes heavy penalties on those guilty of clergy sexual abuse. Some of these penalties are lengthy sentences and hefty fines. You need to hire an aggressive criminal defense law firm with experience handling clergy sexual abuse cases to avoid a conviction. Our legal team at Blank Law, PC is ready to assist you. Book a free consultation with us. Learn how to hire a criminal defense lawyer here.
Priest and Clergy Abuse Occurs in Several Forms
Michigan criminal laws punish clergy sexual abuse offenders severely. Sex crimes in Michigan are typically categorized as criminal sexual conduct. There are four degrees of criminal sexual conduct, depending on the offense’s severity. Cases of clergy sexual abuse could fall under any of these four degrees:
CSC 1st degree and CSC 3rd degree cover crimes involving sexual penetration, while CSC 2nd degree and CSC 4th degree include crimes involving unwanted sexual contact (see: what is offensive touching?). Sexual penetration crimes involving a person under 13 are classified as a first degree criminal sexual act and attract the harshest penalties (see: CSC 1st degree Michigan penalty). Less severe sex offenses are classified as 4th degree sexual assault and attract the least severe punishment (see: CSC 4th degree Michigan penalty).
Clergy abuse occurs in several forms, which can be arranged under two broad categories:
- Contact Abuse – This involves physical contact with the victim. Examples of child sexual abuse include touching a child’s private parts for sexual gratification, rape, forcing a child to engage in sexual activity, and forcing the child to undress for sexual pleasure.
- Non–Contact Abuse – This does not involve physical contact between the abuser and the victim. Examples include exposing a child to pornography, undressing before a child for sexual pleasure, possessing, producing, or distributing child sexually abusive material, and sexually-explicit communications with a child physically or virtually (see: Does sexual abuse always involve physical contact?).
You may consult a clergy abuse lawyer if you are unsure whether your actions have amounted to clergy abuse. A clergy abuse lawyer can also guide you on the degree of criminal sexual conduct you have been charged with. Contact our law firm for a free consultation today.
Why Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney in a Clergy Abuse Case?
Facing sexual abuse allegations can be terrifying. Not only is your freedom at risk, but your reputation as a Catholic priest or other church leader is also at risk of tarnishing. Having a criminal sexual conduct attorney on your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. You can avoid being convicted for sexual abuse claims with a skilled clergy abuse attorney.
So, you need to hire a clergy abuse lawyer if there are clergy sexual abuse claims against you. A seasoned clergy sexual abuse lawyer will create a solid legal defense for you. They will guide you on which laws and statutes most apply to your case. Sexual assault lawyers can also tell you about new laws or changes in the criminal justice system that may benefit your case.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is dedicated to fighting for those accused of child abuse or sexual abuse. She is willing and available to assist you. Also, Nicole respects the attorney-client relationship, so all the information you provide here is confidential. Contact her at (248) 515–6583 for a free consultation.
Will I Be Convicted of Sexual Assault if I am Falsely Accused of Priest Abuse?
There are several reports of sexual abuse every year. In the United States, there are over 463,000 rape cases annually. However, there are also a few incidents of false sexual abuse allegations. Studies show that approximately 2% to 10% of sexual assault claims are false.
With that being said, the consequences of such false allegations are dire, so false sexual abuse accusations should be addressed promptly. You need to hire a sex crimes defense lawyer if you are falsely accused of CSC.
Even though the allegations are unfounded, law enforcement officers may press criminal charges if they are convinced there is enough evidence to secure a conviction. Therefore, you need to create an aggressive defense and prove your innocence.
If your defense is weak or unconvincing, you may be convicted of sexual abuse even though the allegations are untrue. You do not prove your innocence by confronting the accuser, running away when the allegations are levied against you, or refusing to cooperate with law enforcement officers (learn more about what happens if you refuse to talk to a detective here). Instead, you beat false allegations by creating a solid defense.
What Kind of Penalties Does the Court Impose if I am Convicted of Priest Abuse?
You may face severe penalties if you are a Catholic priest or other clergy member convicted of sexual abuse in Michigan. Such punishment includes a lengthy prison sentence or a maximum life sentence. You would also be required to pay a fine.
In addition, you may be placed on probation, subjected to lifetime electronic monitoring and sex offender registration. You may also be mandated to register with the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry, which makes your criminal history public in cases involving childhood sexual abuse.
You can also face civil claims should sexual abuse survivors pursue a personal injury action in a civil court. If they are successful, you will be required to provide financial compensation for the damage they have suffered due to the abuse.
Do Statutes of Limitation Apply?
The statute of limitations often applies in sexual abuse cases. They limit the period a sex abuse offender can be prosecuted in a legal action for the offense. In cases of clergy abuse, the statute of limitation in Michigan provides that survivors of clergy abuse must file a civil lawsuit within three years of discovery of the abuse or before they turn 28.
However, in criminal cases there is no statute of limitations if the act amounting to clergy abuse is considered 1st degree CSC. For 2nd degree CSC and 3rd degree CSC, the statute of limitations provides that legal action must be brought against the offender before the victim’s 28th birthday or 15 years after DNA identification.
Are There Potential Legal Defenses?
Building a solid legal defense is the best way to handle accusations of sexual abuse. If someone accuses you of clergy abuse, the law expects them to back it up with proof. The prosecuting attorney must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before the court convicts you. Thus, you may avoid a clergy abuse conviction by refuting the prosecution’s claims.
Contact an experienced CSC defense attorney if you want to fight the allegations against you (learn more about what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer here). You can reduce the severity of the accusations or perhaps get them dropped with competent legal counsel.
The most common defense against accusations of sexual abuse is consent. Consensual sexual activity between adults is not against the law. Therefore, you may have a legal defense if the alleged victim is the legal age of consent in Michigan, 16 or older, and the sexual activity was consenting (see: consensual vs. non-consensual).
However, consent does not apply if the victim is a child below the legal age because a minor cannot offer consent. Additionally, a victim who is physically or mentally incapable of giving consent cannot do so. Furthermore, if you honestly and firmly believe that the victim was an adult at the time, it could also be a defense. While it may not result in the charges against you being dropped, it could make the penalty less severe.
Mistaken identity is another typical defense used to refute clergy abuse accusations. Sometimes victims have trouble identifying the perpetrators, which may be due to forgetfulness. Suppose you can demonstrate that the police made a mistake in mistaking you for the perpetrator. In that case, you might be able to refute being accused of sexual assault in these circumstances.
Will I Be On the Sex Offender Registry if I Am Convicted of Priest Abuse?
Anyone convicted of clergy abuse or any other sex crime in Michigan will be placed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. The registry maintains criminal records of defendants convicted of sexual assault or criminal sexual conduct.
The public can access these criminal records, which include information about the offenses and the offenders’ names, addresses, photos, and registration numbers. When you have a criminal history of sexual offenses, finding employment, housing, or integrating into society can be challenging.
In some circumstances, the law permits the deletion of sex offenders’ records from the registry (see: How to get off the sex offender registry in Michigan). However, the procedure is time-consuming and complex, so you would benefit with assistance from a seasoned rape defense attorney. After 15 years, you can have a conviction for a Tier 1 sex offender offense expunged from your record. After 25 years, you can erase your record for a Tier 2 sex offender offense. However, it is impossible to remove your record if your offense is classified as a Tier 3 sex offender offense.
So, to better understand how the sex offender registry operates, it would be advisable to speak with a criminal sexual conduct defense attorney. Your lawyer can also assist you in determining which of the sex offender tier levels your offense belongs to. Your attorney will advise you on the expungement procedure if the option is available.
Hire Blank Law, PC for the Best Outcome
You need to hire a lawyer if someone claims that you or your loved one sexually abused them. Sexual abuse is severe, and the stakes are higher if you are in a position of authority above the alleged victim, such as in a priest–parishioner relationship. So, you must act quickly to protect yourself and create an aggressive defense.
Female criminal defense attorney Nicole Blank Becker is a top Michigan lawyer with years of experience in sexual abuse cases, including clergy abuse. She has a cutting-edge advantage over other sex offender lawyers because of her expertise as a former prosecutor.
If you are a Catholic priest or any other clergy member in catholic dioceses, she can help you lessen the criminal charges or get them entirely dropped. Contact our law firm for a free confidential case evaluation today.