Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Scandal: Legal Remedies for Victims  

June 13, 2022 General

Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Scandal: Legal Remedies for Victims

The Southern Baptist Convention (“SBC”) sexual abuse scandal has shocked everyone. See NYTimes media report here. The individual churches and the Southern Baptist Church hierarchy must fix the problem now and ensure that it never happens again. In the meantime, victims of the sexual abuse have rights that MUST be vindicated in open court and via transparent insurance settlements. Monetary compensation can never make the victims “whole” or ever remove the trauma and the memories. For the actual criminal abusers, the criminal justice system will mete out just imprisonment and other punishments. But those persons and Church leaders who ignored, tolerated, enabled and covered up the abuse must also be brought to justice. Civil litigation is the method that our legal system provides for bringing a measure of justice for victims of sexual abuse and violence.

Here, at Mansfield Melancon – Injury Lawyers, our litigation team is top-tier, compassionate, deeply talented and experienced with obtaining justice for victims of sexual abuse and violence. These cases are NOT about vengeance, but about obtaining the compensation to which you and your family are entitled. Maybe you are reluctant to sue your Church? Maybe you are worried that taking legal action will destroy the Church? Call us anyway. Civil court judgments are often covered by insurance.

Compensation can be recovered for many categories of damages including past, current, and future medical bills and expenses related to physical, mental and emotional trauma, pain and suffering, damages for emotional distress, anticipation of eminent harm, lost wages/income, diminished lifetime earnings capacity, damage to property, loss of normal life and more.

You should act quickly so that you will understand your rights and be able to consider your options. The Louisiana Legislature just enacted a new statute that provides more time for adult victims of sexual abuse to file their lawsuits. See media report here. There is also a “look-back window” for some cases of sexual abuse here in Louisiana, but that window will not remain open indefinitely.

In general, civil cases involving sexual abuse and violence are governed by Louisiana statutes and by the Louisiana laws of negligence. Generally speaking, persons and organizations owe legal duties to keep other safe from sexual predators and abuse. This duty is heightened when children are involved. An example, as described in the NYTimes media article linked above, one mother is suing the SBC because her daughter, aged 11 at the time, was sexually abused at the Church’s summer camp for children. Under Louisiana law, the camp organizers and Church leaders had a duty to keep those children safe and a duty to take various specific actions to ensure that safety. Examples of such specific actions might include:

  • Properly vetting and running criminal background checks on camp organizers, counselors, vendors and others
  • Having proper and sufficient supervision of children and their whereabouts
  • Providing proper physical security including locks and cameras
  • Mandating training for camp personnel concerning signs of sexual abuse/violence
  • Investigating and taking proper, appropriate and swift action following reports of sexual abuse/violence

When persons or organizations violate their duties and, as a result, sexual abuse and/or violence occurs, then those persons/organizations can be held legally liable to the victim(s) for compensation.

Our Attorneys Can Help

For more information, contact the Louisiana sexual abuse lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.