News & Headlines

Athens event aims to raise awareness of male childhood sexual abuse

Athens Banner-Herald. March 6, 2014

Sexual abuse attorneys have victims from a number of walks of life and from both sexes, but awareness of male victims is at an all-time low. One event seeks to change that. Keep reading for more:

Most of the research used to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse is focused on female survivors rather than male survivors, but that research is used to help male survivors of sexual abuse she said. Because the healing process is different for males … more research needs to be done on how males react after sexual abuse occurs and new healing therapies need to be created.

Click to read article.

It's Time for States to Act: Statue of Limitations Reform for Victims

By: Alex Zalkin, Esq.

The injuries associated with childhood sexual abuse usually do not manifest at the time of the injury, but rather, can, and often do, arise much later in life. Because of the latency of the injury, it is virtually impossible for victims of childhood sexual abuse to connect their injuries later in life to their childhood sexual abuse. This is in sharp contrast to an automobile accident, for example, in which the injury occurs at the time of the accident. Expecting a victim of childhood sexual abuse to understand that their mid-life alcoholism and depression are related to their childhood sexual abuse would be akin to expecting someone who breaks their leg in their 40's, to connect that injury to an automobile accident in their childhood. It is unrealistic to expect any person, no matter their station in life, to do so.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the statute of limitations, many states treat childhood sexual abuse injuries as they do automobile accidents and other common injuries. In New York, for example, a victim of childhood sexual abuse has until age 23 to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator of their abuse, and until age 21 to file a civil lawsuit against an institution that could have been partially responsible for the abuse as well. More often than not, a victim of childhood sexual abuse will not even exhibit all of their injuries associated with the abuse until much later in life, let alone connect those injuries to their childhood sexual abuse. By the time they do make that connection, their ability to file a civil lawsuit has long passed.

To address this problem, some states have amended their statute of limitations to include a delayed discovery provision. This allows victims a certain period of time to bring a civil lawsuit, beginning from the time in which they realize that their adult psychological injuries were the result of their childhood sexual abuse. Often times, states will also open a window, during which, those victims whose cases have been barred by the statute of limitations, can bring their lawsuit.

This troubling issue is being addressed in a federal appellate court in New York that will soon face an important decision that impacts many childhood sexual abuse survivors access to the civil justice system in that state. The court will be deciding a technical, legal argument that survivor's argue, tolls or pauses the statute of limitations, such that they can still bring their case even after the statute of limitations has technically expired.

While a positive ruling in this case is undoubtedly an important step forward for survivors, it really highlights the need for legislatures across the United States to expand their statutes of limitations in childhood sexual abuse cases to acknowledge the unique nature of the injuries caused by childhood sexual abuse.

State Assemblywoman Marge Markey has introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly to address this legal roadblock for victims. Her legislation, the New York Child Victims Act, if passed would essentially eliminate the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims going forward, as well as open a one year window for childhood sexual abuse cases that were barred in the past.

We at the Zalkin Law Firm fully support this proposed bill in New York and encourage other states to work towards expanding their statutes of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims as well.

 

How Y.U. Won $680M Abuse Case on Same Issue Another School Lost

Jewish Daily Forward. Feb. 19, 2014

High profile cases are just part of what we do as a sexual abuse law firm. This Jewish Daily Forward piece takes a closer look at what it actually takes to win these sometimes complex cases:

In a decision likely to affect the access child sex abuse victims in New York will have to civil remedies years after their alleged abuse, a federal appeals court will examine dueling decisions by judges in two recent high-profile child sex abuse lawsuits.”


Click to read article.

 

UC-Berkeley Faces New Complaints That It Failed Sexual Assault Survivors

Huffington Post. Feb. 26, 2014

Campus sexual assault lawyers everywhere understand that colleges and universities across the nation are failing to address the problem at hand, and this Huffington Post article reveals that UC-Berkeley is little different in that regard.

“The University of California-Berkeley failed to investigate reports of serial rapists, took months to adjudicate sexual assault cases and dismissed rape threats as a joke, according to two federal complaints filed Wednesday by 31 current and former students.”

Click to Read Full Article

Attorney Irwin M. Zalkin Selected for List of Top Rated Lawyers in CA.

Dismissal of Yeshiva University sex abuse lawsuit makes strong case for Assemblywoman Margaret Markey's Child Victims Act

Daily News, February 13, 2014.

As Yeshiva abuse attorneys, we know how important preventative legislation is, and this Daily News piece highlights that:

“ Koeltl, displaying an astonishing lack of awareness about issues facing sexual abuse victims, claimed the plaintiffs should have brought their claims before they turned 21 years old. But mental health experts say and sex abuse scandals involving football coaches at Poly Prep, Penn State and other institutions prove that most victims are prepared to address the damage they have suffered until they are in their 40s.”

Victims of childhood sexual abuse deserve justice that can come from changes to statute of limitations laws. There is hope that this change will soon come to the State of New York with Assemblywoman Markey’s legislation A1771A. The Zalkin Law Firm supports these legislative efforts.

Click to read full article.

DA: Jehovah Witness Church concealed molestation crimes

McAlester News Capital. Oklahoma. February 4, 2014

Jehovah's Witness abuse attorneys have been working with local investigators and officials to uncover the truth, and one Oklahoma DA has said the organization worked hard to conceal their crimes. Take a look:

The entire church body of the Jehovah Witness Church allegedly concealed child molestation crimes alleged against a man identified as a former church elder, according to a motion filed in Pittsburg County District Court.”

Click here to read full article.

Irwin Zalkin Statement on Vatican Refusal to Comply with U.N. Committee Report

Victim's Attorney Reacts to U.N. Committee Report

REFUSAL TO TURN OVER BAD PRIEST FILES SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE

Statement by Irwin Zalkin, Esq.

On Tuesday, February 5, 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report calling on the Vatican to remove all child abusers from its ranks, report them to law enforcement and open the church's archives so that bishops and other officials who concealed crimes could be held accountable. The Vatican quickly responded that the report was an attempt to interfere with the church's exercise of religious freedom.

With this response from the Vatican, the U.N. has now gotten a taste of the hypocrisy of theCatholic Church's alleged reformation of its priest sex abuse policies. For the past decade, the Catholic Church has engaged in a public relations campaign to persuade the general public and disillusioned Catholics that the Church has amended its policies when it comes to how it deals with sexual predator priests.

In reality, those of us who represent survivors of clergy sexual abuse in this country and elsewhere in the world and who have been on the front lines of litigation against the various Dioceses and Religious Orders have faced the same efforts to deny and cover up the truth. Fortunately, in courtroom by courtroom, we have been successful in compelling the public disclosure of pedophile priest files.

While the Catholic Church publicly proclaims its concern for the safety of children, its real concern is to protect its reputation above all, and to keep the truth about the depth and breadth of the scourge of child sexual abuse by its clergy from ever seeing the light of day. Many of these predators are still out there and pose a danger to children every day. We as a society and as a country should offer up all our support for the United Nations efforts to investigate the Vatican's participation in these crimes against humanity and to hold Church officials accountable for their actions. Survivors deserve nothing less.

It's Not Rape, If It's a Freshman: An Open Letter to Parents

The Huffington Post. February 4, 2014.

Campus sexual assault attorneys sometimes hear some outrageous things, but this Huffington Post article from a mother is nothing short of shocking. Keep reading:

“The covering up of sexual assault should never happen but it does — far too often. What happened to my daughter is not only imaginable, but, in fact, commonplace. And when it happens, colleges and universities must be required to hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable, and afford the women who suffer at their hands the support to come forward and not hide in shame.”

Click to read full article.

Treatment for Prolonged Depression and Justice in Court Are Both Needed by Victims of Childhood Abuse

By Devin Storey, Esq.

In an article published on Allvoices.com, the author discussed a report by researchers at the University of Toronto that was published in January in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. The article, entitled New study reveals childhood abuse prolongs depression recovery examined the study's findings that adults who were subjected to physical, sexual or emotional abuse as children, faced a far longer road to recovery from depression than those who were not abused. The study followed 1,128 depressed adults for up to 12 years and determined that adults who survived abusive childhoods experienced an average delay of nine months in bringing their depression into remission when compared to those who were not abused as children.

Over years of representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse, many clients of The Zalkin Law Firm have experienced depression and periods of crisis. And, while childhood abuse may result in physiological changes that prolong recovery, other studies show that professional intervention can be effective in aiding those suffering from depression to recover more quickly than those who remain untreated by mental health professionals. As childhood sex abuse attorneys, we have seen first-hand the benefit our clients have experienced as a result of timely treatment by mental health practitioners, and that healing can occur when a motivated survivor of abuse secures treatment from a qualified mental health professional.

For those who have not endured depression, it is difficult to fully comprehend how debilitating this condition can be. Depression can rob a person of the motivation to seek help for their condition thereby extending the period of depression and exacerbating the person's suffering. Any delay in the recovery time of a person suffering from depression can be catastrophic, and the average delay of nine months experienced by survivors of childhood abuse and trauma can seem like a lifetime.

As strong believers in the benefits of therapy and the cathartic effect of standing up to those who caused the abuse through the litigation process, the attorneys at The Zalkin Law Firm believe that proactive steps can be used to truncate the period of suffering, and we are committed to helping our clients receive both justice in the courts and the treatment they need to flourish in their lives.

Statue of Limitations Reform, by Devin Storey, Esq.

Zalkin Law Firm sexual abuse attorney, Devin Storey, recently published an excellent overview of the complicated state of Statue of Limitations Reform (SOL) in the January Newsletter of National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence. Read this helpful and insightful article at this link:

NPEIV Newsletter – Jan. 2014

SOL Reform, by Devin M. Storey, Esq.

“Where does this leave us? In a technical sense, we are left with a long and complicated statute that irrationally excludes many of the people who would most benefit from the ability toseek accountability through the civil justice system: those who have been dramatically harmed for many years by the abuse and who have only recently come to understand the affect the abuse has had on their lives. However, in a broader sense, we are left with a Legislature that has seen the need for change, a dedicated champion in Senator Beall who is committed to making a difference in the lives of abuse survivors, a collective of advocates like the National Center for Crime that are devoted to seeing this inequality corrected, and amazingly resilient survivors who will not give up. While the quest for Statute of Limitations Reform was dealt a momentary blow with the veto of SB 131, this remarkable collection of people will continue to pursue change. “

Clergy sex abuse survivors stress speaking up

Daily Herald. January 26, 2014. Clergy abuse attorneys often have trouble getting victims to speak up, but in this Daily Herald report, even survivors are encouraging other survivors to stand out against the secrecy barrier. "Sexual abuse, particularly by someone as respected as a priest, can cause psychological scars that linger for a lifetime, social workers and psychologists say." Click to read full article.

New abuse documents detail Chicago archdiocese missteps

Chicago Tribune. January 21, 2014

As clergy abuse attorneys, we know mistakes were made from the bottom up in preventing child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, and one Chicago Tribune report makes that clearer than ever. Take a look:

Thousands of pages of secret church documents released Tuesday as part of a court settlement provide an unprecedented and gut-wrenching look at how the Archdiocese of Chicago for years failed to protect children from abusive priests.

Click to read full story.

Victim's Attorney Reacts to the Release of More Abuse Documents by the Catholic Church

Release of Documents Today by the Chicago Diocese Demonstrates Corporate Policy To Hide Abusers

San Diego, CA, January 21, 2014 Victim's rights attorney, Irwin Zalkin, was not surprised by the latest round of sex abuse documents released today by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

It should come as no surprise that the latest stacks of documents released by the Catholic Church in Chicago once again show the level to which the Church worked to cover up what was known about predator priests within its Archdiocese and elsewhere, said Irwin Zalkin of The Zalkin Law Firm. This is not a diocese by diocese problem. This cover-up has been corporate policy from the very top for decades.

Zalkin stressed that the latest document release in Chicago cannot be looked at in isolation. He pointed out that the Church has been forced by the courts to release similar records in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Portland and elsewhere in recent years in response to court judgments supporting justice for hundreds of victims of priest sexual abuse. Similar cover-ups by the Church can be seen in on-going investigations in Australia, Ireland and Great Britainand with the lack of information recently provided to the Church to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

As we have represented victims who have come forward during the last decade, we have found that the Catholic Church seems to have a corporate practice of covering up the truth about its institutional knowledge of child predators within the ranks of its priests, said Zalkin. We have also seen this pattern of a corporate cover-up of abuse in many other organizations that should be protecting children, like the Boy Scouts, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups, and now we are learning of the same problem within the Jehovah's Witnesses, Zalkin continued.

Zalkin has been one of the leading attorneys nationally who has represented hundreds of Catholic sexual abuse victims in cases throughout the country. The Zalkin Law Firm currently has more than 10 pending cases against the Jehovah's Witnesses organization around the country and has settled in excess of 300 sexual abuse cases in the last 10 years. Irwin Zalkin was one of the lead trial lawyers and part of the trial team against the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles that led to a global settlement of $660,000,000 and was appointed Mediation Liaison Counsel and a lead negotiator by United States Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas on behalf of over 144 victims of childhood sexual abuse against the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego leading to a settlement of nearly $200,000,000.

About The Zalkin Law Firm

With offices in San Diego and New York, The Zalkin Law Firm (www.zalkin.com) is one of the premier sexual abuse and personal injury law firms in the country. The firm’s lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and achieved groundbreaking results in numerous high-profile clergy abuse cases across the United States.

New study reveals childhood abuse prolongs depression recovery

allvoices.com Jan. 14, 2014.

Clients of sex abuse lawyers have long seen the problems that result from childhood sexual abuse, and this AllVoices.com report looks closely at a new study linking prolonged depression to the abuse.

“Childhood abuse has been linked to poor brain development and depression.

Earlier this month, University of Toronto researchers released a report in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology that suggests recovery from adult depression is significantly delayed in adults who were abused as children. It did not matter if the abuse was physical, mental or a result of neglect: The study illustrated an average delay of nine months in the recovery process for people who survived abusive situations while growing up.”

Click to read full article.

U.N. Panel Questions Vatican Officials on Child Sex Abuse

New York Times. Jan. 16, 2014

As sex abuse attorneys, we've seen offending organizations say some shocking things, but few things were more shocking than the New York Times piece published after the UN Panel questionedVatican officials. Take a look:

“Written answers from the Vatican emphasized the distinction between the Holy See and the Catholic Church and said that although it encouraged adherence to the principles of the convention globally, it was responsible only for implementing the convention in the territory of the Vatican City State.

It was quite shocking. It was a pretty direct, pretty blunt effort to sidestep the questions, Pam Spees, an attorney with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which is seeking to hold Vatican officials responsible for sexual abuse crimes, said in an interview.”

Click to read full article

THE UN COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: JUST ANOTHER PR OPPORTUNITY FOR THE CHURCH

By Irwin Zalkin, Esq.

Recent news articles have raised questions about the lack of cooperation of the Vatican with the on-going investigations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Vatican has already refused to provide any details to the Committee on its own internal investigations of priests and now the Vatican is scheduled to appear before the committee in mid January.

Why should anyone expect the Vatican and its representatives to suddenly change its stripes and provide truthful and complete cooperation with the United Nations Investigation? The Zalkin Law Firm clergy abuse attorneys have been engaged with the Catholic Church in the United States in a decade long effort to expose the truth of the depth and breadth of the clergy sexual abuse scandal worldwide. Through our efforts, and the efforts of other clergy abuse law firms engaged in this battle, we have forced the public disclosure of the extremes to which the Catholic Church has gone to cover up the truth.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Children should put its boxing gloves on. They'll need to win many rounds if they hope to effect a change in Vatican policy.

From the moment the scandal of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy caught broke in 2002 with the explosive reporting by the Boston Globe, the public relations machine of the Vatican and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the political arm of the Catholic Church in the United States, went into full battle mode.

The USSCB held two national conferences of all U.S. Bishops, commissioned the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct an investigation into the scope of the scourge of childhood sexual abuse within the Catholic Church of America, and held numerous press conferences to assure the public they were working on the problem. Ultimately, they passed the Charter for The Protection of Children and Young People with its associated Norms that set up protocols for outreach to victims, and adopted a zero tolerance policy (which the Pope vetoed). A lay commission, the National Review Board, was appointed by the USCCB to investigate and cooperate with the John Jay investigation.

This all looked good on paper, but what really happened? The John Jay study was a farce. It relied completely on the Bishop's voluntary cooperation. Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, a devout Catholic, who chaired the National Review Board resigned shortly thereafter, comparing the leaders of the Catholic Church to the Mafia. Bishops refused to cooperate with clergy abuse lawyers in civil and criminal cases and either denied the truth, concealed the truth, and only produced damaging documents under court order.

To this day, the Church has paid and continues to pay millions of dollars to lobbyists around the country to defeat efforts of the victims of childhood sexual abuse and their advocates to reform state laws to allow them access to justice. Regrettably, the Vatican appearance at the UN will likely be more of the same behavior.

Will the Vatican comply with UN investigation into child abuse?

Metro.com.uk January 6, 2014

Clergy abuse attorneys are nothing short of frustrated at the Vatican's response to the issue of child sex abuse, and a Metro report from the UK looked at the indecision it presented, even in the face of a UN investigation.

“On January 16, a Vatican delegation is due to appear before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child at a hearing in Geneva as part of an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy around the world and an alleged system of cover-ups by the Holy See. Pope Francis and the Catholic Church have a clear opportunity to help victims whose lives have been shattered by child abuse and help prevent further suffering, campaigners say.”

Click Here to Read Full Story

LA Times Interview With Photo Journalist Mariella Furre

As sex abuse lawyers, it'srare to come across work that proves hopeful in the area of childhood sexual abuse, but this LA Times Interview with Mariella Furre certainly fits the bill. Read on:

reFramed: In conversation with Mariella Furre

Los Angeles Times. January 6, 2014. reFramed is a feature showcasing fine art photography and vision-forward photojournalism.

A touching and powerful interview with South African photographer Mariella Furre about her photo documentary work on childhood sex abuse.

Click Here to read interview and see her photos.

Q: I look at your work and I see a profound commitment to creating awareness about child sexual abuse. What inspired you to tell this story?

A: When I was about 5 years old, I was sexually abused by a stranger. I don't think at that age I really understood what it was that had happened to me, but somehow I knew it was wrong, and I felt to blame for letting the man touch me.

The molestation could not have lasted more than a couple of minutes, but the incident affected my life in ways that are difficult to articulate. As a 5-year-old, I don't think you really understand that you have lost something when you are abused. Yet you have; something does change. You lose your childhood really, your innocence is snatched away, and what little is left of that once-pure child is now transformed into a sexual being, a child with a knowledge of things way before her time.

My Piece of Sky is the result of the journey that has since led me to explore the world of child sexual abuse. It is testimony to the young children who have survived the experience of rape, and those who have lost their lives to it.

Sex-abuse victims lack voice in New Square Hasidic community

Lohud.com. January 4. 2014

Sexual abuse attorneys are often the only voice victims have, and a LoHud.com report only furthered that idea. In Hasidic community, those who take assault claims to cops ‘are damaged goods’

“Sexual abuse of children and young people is systemically suppressed in Hasidic communities, advocates and alleged victims say, spawning a culture where victims are sent to therapists picked by the community's religious leaders and whose sympathies often seem aligned with the abuser.”

Read full article here.