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New Jersey Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Seeking Justice for Victims of Priests’ and Other Clergy Members’ Sexual Abuse

Members of the clergy have a longstanding reputation as leaders in our community. Unfortunately, in recent years, this reputation has been tarnished by several widely-publicized allegations of sexual abuse. Priests and other clergy members in New Jersey and other states have faced a host of serious allegations and many, many victims have come forward. If you or your child has been subjected to abuse, it is important that you speak with a New Jersey clergy sexual abuse lawyer promptly.

At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we provide compassionate legal representation for victims of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey. Our lawyers bring centuries of combined experience to the table, and we work diligently to help our clients recover just compensation. If you or your child has been victimized, you deserve to have a voice, and the clergy member who perpetrated the sexual abuse deserves to be held accountable. We can work to make sure this happens.

Sexual Assault Claims Against Priests and Other Clergy Members in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the crimes of “sexual assault” and “aggravated sexual assault” encompass various types of unlawful sexual conduct that are often prosecuted separately as rape, statutory rape, inappropriate sexual contact, child molestation and other crimes in other states. These are extremely serious charges. Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree indictable offense, and a conviction can carry up to 20 years in prison. Priests and other clergy members can also be forced to serve 85% of their sentence without parole eligibility; and, once they are released, they can be placed on parole supervision for life.

If a clergy member is convicted of aggravated sexual assault involving a victim who was under the age of 13, he can be sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 25 years of parole ineligibility.

While the criminal justice process ensures that abusive and predatory clergy members are punished, it does not provide compensation to victims. In order to recover just compensation for the physical and psychological effects of sexual assault, victims and their families must hire clergy sexual abuse lawyers to file civil claims on their behalf.

However, understanding what constitutes sexual assault from a criminal perspective is still important. For example, the following are all criminal acts for which victims can also file civil claims for financial compensation:

1.  Aggravated Sexual Assault

In New Jersey, the crime of aggravated sexual assault is defined as, “an act of sexual penetration with another person,” involving any of the following circumstances:

  • The victim is less than 13 years old;
  • The victim is between the ages of 13 and 16 and the actor, “has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim by virtue of the actor's legal, professional, or occupational status;”
  • The sexual assault is committed during a kidnapping or attempted kidnapping (a kidnapping is defined as, “unlawfully confin[ing] another for a substantial period”);
  • The involvement of one or more other persons and the use of physical force or coercion;
  • The use of physical force or coercion resulting in severe personal injury; or,
  • The victim, “is one whom the actor knew or should have known was physically helpless or incapacitated, intellectually or mentally incapacitated, or had a mental disease or defect . . . .”

2.  Sexual Assault

While the crime of aggravated sexual assault always involves an act of sexual penetration, the crime of sexual assault does not. In New Jersey, a person can be convicted of sexual assault based on any of the following:

  • Sexual contact with a victim who is less than 13 years old;
  • Sexual penetration of a minor between the ages of 13 and 16;
  • Sexual penetration of a minor between the ages of 16 and 18 when the actor, “has supervisory or disciplinary power of any nature or in any capacity over the victim;” or,
  • Sexual penetration using physical force or coercion.

Sexual assault is a second-degree indictable offense. This means that it carries a prison sentence of five to 10 years. It can also cause substantial economic and non-economic harm to the victim, and our New Jersey clergy sexual abuse attorneys have the knowledge and experience required to help victims recover just compensation. 

3. Other Forms of Sexual Abuse by Priests and the Clergy

In addition to aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault, clergy members in New Jersey can face various other criminal charges as well. While these can be classified as “lesser” offenses as compared to sexual assault, they are still serious offenses that can cause victims significant and long-term psychological trauma. Some of the additional charges that can support civil claims for clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey include:

  • Endangerment of a child (including “sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child” and “[permitting] a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act”); and,
  • Lewd conduct (including exposing oneself “for the purpose of arousing or gratifying . . . [if] the actor knows or reasonably expects he is likely to be observed by a child who is less than 13 years of age”).

A New Jersey Priest Sexual Abuse Lawyer Understands the Unique Challenges Victims Face

While many different members of the clergy have been held civilly liable and convicted for perpetrating sexual abuse, cases involving priests have been particularly prevalent in recent years. Priests hold special standing in the church, and this unfortunately puts them in a unique position to perpetrate acts of sexual abuse against members of their congregations.

If you or your child has been sexually abused by a priest in New Jersey, it is imperative that you hire an experienced New Jersey priest sexual abuse lawyer promptly. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we can help, and we encourage you to contact us right away.

Speak with a New Jersey Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

To speak with a New Jersey clergy sexual abuse lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., call us at 877-435-6371 or contact us confidentially online. With multiple office locations throughout the state, we represent individuals and families in civil cases statewide. 

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