Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse Injury Attorney

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has reached a $210 million settlement to be shared amongst 450 survivors of clergy sexual abuse as part of its bankruptcy reorganization, according to reports.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2015, two years after the Minnesota Legislature opened a three-year window that allowed people who said they had been sexually abused in the past to sue for damages, according to The Associated Press. This netted hundreds of claims filed against the archdiocese.

A formal reorganization plan will now be submitted to a bankruptcy judge for approval, and then it will be sent to the survivors for a vote.

The money will go into a trust fund to pay survivors, with the amount for each person to be determined.

Because of the lawsuit, 91 clerical offenders in the archdiocese have been exposed and listed as credibly accused offenders.

This is the second largest settlement involving the Catholic church in the United States, after a $660 million settlement reached in 2007 by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and 508 people who said they had been abused, according to reports.

There are many different types of abuse that may have been committed by clergy against victims. Clergy misconduct and sexual abuse can include the following:

  • Child molestation
  • Child pornography
  • Indecent exposure
  • Lewd or lascivious acts
  • Statutory rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Touching with or without clothing
  • Unconsented touching

When a civil lawsuit is filed against a church, the punishment is not jail time, rather it is about recovering monetary damages. Damages can include economic damages, non-economic damages, and possibly punitive damages. Economic damages are those distinguishable as medical bills and lost income. Non-economic damages are what is commonly referred to as “pain and suffering” damages. Many judges and juries award significant sums to survivors of sexual abuse for enduring such pain and suffering on a daily basis.

Continue reading

A CNN investigation has found that at least 103 Uber drivers in the U.S. have been accused of sexually assaulting or secually abusing their passengers. The allegations date back to the past four years.

The results of the investigation have shown that the questionable drivers were either arrested, are wanted by police, or have been named in civil suits related to the incidents.

Shockingly, nearly 31 drivers have been convicted for crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape, and at least a dozen more have criminal and civil cases that are pending, according to CNN analysis.

This is strictly coming from analysis conducted by CNN involving in-depth review of police reports, federal court records and county court databases for 20 major U.S. cities. There is no publicly available data for the number of sexual assaults by Uber drivers or for drivers of other rideshare companies.

Most of these cases involve the passengers being intoxicated or passing out in their Ubers. Some of these cases have even lead to opened investigations into other potential crimes,

A few of the cases have resulted in a class action lawsuit against Uber.

One woman is even suing Uber for representing its services as “safe.”

Uber launched in 2010 in San Francisco as “everyone’s private driver,” and is currently valued at $70 billion and operates in 630 cities worldwide. Uber provides an estimated 15 million rides a day.

It will be interesting to see how the company further responds to this CNN investigation.

According to CNN, last week the company posted a sexual assault prevention video on its website on “how to create a safer community.” Uber also announced plans to host 50 community forums nationwide for advocates, leaders, drivers and riders across to talk about the issue.

An Uber spokesperson said safety is the company’s top priority this year and cited recent protocol updates such as rerunning driver background checks on an annual basis moving forward. The company also told CNN it plans to roll out a dedicated “safety center” within the Uber app where riders can designate contacts they want to share trip details with while they ride and they will also have an emergency button allowing users to call 911 from inside the app.

Lyft, an Uber competitor that provides an estimated one million rides daily in the United States and Canada, is also dealing with some allegations of sexual assaults by its drivers. A similar CNN review using the same methodology found 18 cases of Lyft drivers accused in the past four years. Of those cases, four drivers have been convicted.

Keep in mind that it is quite common for Uber and Lyft drivers to work for both companies simultaneously. However, each company is required to perform its own background checks.

While using a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft to avoid a potential DUI seems like a safe, economical decision, these sexual assault reports raise some major red flags for passenger safety. If using your phone to get a ride in about 3-5 minutes sounds too good to be true, you could be correct as you are virtually relying upon a stranger to get you to your next destination safely. Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have compiled a few safety guidelines for you to follow if Uber or Lyft is your go to:

  1. Before getting in to the vehicle, make sure you identify your driver and car. Uber sends you your driver’s name, photo, vehicle make, model, and plate number once you have booked your trip. Always compare that information with your ride when it arrives. If something does not match up, do not get in.
  2. Never get into an Uber car that you didn’t order. If you are intoxicated, have someone you trust wait with you and check the the driver and car upon arrival.
  3. Share your ETA with a friend or someone you trust. Uber sends you a destination link once the driver is on their way. Share it with someone so they know where you are and where you are supposed to end up.
  4. Always go with your gut. If you are not 100% comfortable when your Uber driver arrives, don’t take the ride. The minor $5 cancellation fee is absolutely worth your safety.
  5. Know the accident coverage liability: If you are injured while in an Uber accident and the driver is at fault, be aware of who is responsible and the limits to Uber’s $1 million liability amount. Familiarize yourself with Uber’s Terms & Conditions you agreed to during registration.
  6. Rate your driver: Leave comments and feedback about your Uber experience. If you felt unsafe, share the information. Remember, these can be anonymous.

Continue reading

A canon lawyer has recently spoken out about a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. She is claiming that archbishops and their top staff are lying to the public and of ignoring the US bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse.

Her claims go on to share that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment.

She said that when she started examining records in 2008 of clergy under restrictions over sex misconduct with adults and children she found “nearly 20” of the 48 men still in ministry. She said she repeatedly warned the church about the risk of these placements, but they took action only in one case. As a result of raising alarms, she said she was eventually shut out of meetings about priest misconduct. She resigned last year.

The archdiocese has for years pledged it was following the national bishops’ policy, known as the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which lays out a series of requirements — from conducting background checks to alerting parishioners about offender priests and barring guilty clergy from parish assignments.

However, this woman alleges she discovered in 2008 that the archdiocese hadn’t conducted background checks on most priests since the early 1990s. When she drew attention to the lapse, she said she was told to eliminate references to the date of background checks in a form pledging a priest is suitable for ministry.

The woman also claims she found important information scattered among storage locations throughout the archdiocese, such as priests’ records, including the history of allegations against them, their compliance with the monitoring program, and evidence of their misconduct that did not make its way into various priest’s personnel files.

She is the highest-level official from a US diocese to make claims of a cover-up. A canon lawyer educated at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, she served as a judge on church tribunals in Minnesota and was trained through the US bishops’ conference on child safety and monitoring guilty clergy.

The Catholic Church plays a significant role in the growing number of child sex abuse claims, especially with all the scandals and cover-ups. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys stand ready to help those who have been subjected to inappropriate acts by clergy members. If you or a loved one have been abused by a member of the clergy, we are ready to advocate on your behalf and help you pursue the restitution you deserve.

We are well aware of the Catholic Church’s approach in these sexual abuse cases and the tactics they will employ to minimize the claims of victims. We firmly believe  that no authority, religious or otherwise, is excused from responsibility when sexual misconduct or any abuse occurs. We will fight aggressively to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions.

Continue reading

Contact Information