Priestly sexual exploitation and civil lawsuit

Topic brought from other thread about suing the Church. but I wanted to hear some thoughts.

I was 19 when I was sexually exploited by a priest. He was my boss and spiritual director… and it ultimately turned into a weird relationship that sent me onto a self destructive path that I can’t get out of (even today).

I’m 25… I just called the diocese today and was told they couldn’t help me with any counseling unless I revealed his name.They said it’d be confidential between her and the bishop, then he’d decide what to do with him. Either he’d get some counseling or be removed.

I don’t like having someone’s life in my hands like this. I also called a lawyer just to see if I had a case (I’m awaiting a call back). If I made a civil lawsuit someone mentioned I’d be excommunicated? Lol. The past 6 years have been hell, but I’ve been trying and actually doing alright in many aspect. I’m teaching at a University so that’s good. Doesn’t happen often at 25yo.

Thoughts? I wasnt a child but he would still fall under the same category as a counselor right? this was all very wrong. the diocese was much more interested in finding out who he was than helping me

You should tell the exact truth to the Diocese. The Bishop has a right to know. You have the right to counseling for this abusive relationship.

I hope it isn’t true that you’d be excommunicated if you filed a civil lawsuit. That would be reprehensible. Anyway, the priest was guilty of abusing you spiritually and sexually. There are lawyers who specialize in areas of sexual abuse and misconduct. It is important to have a competent attorney you can trust. It might be prudent to talk with this trusted attorney before contacting the diocese again. Not to say that this is the case with yours, but bishops have a sad history of protecting abusive priests at the expense of the abused.

The Church can’t very well give you assistance if you aren’t willing to give substantive details of the situation so that they can properly investigate.

All dioceses in the US have a reporting protocol for allegations against priests. These are primarily for incidents involving children but you can report other cases of misconduct through the same channels. Go to the diocesan website and follow the protocol.

That is a legal question. forum rules prohibit giving legal advice. as you were both consenting adults, I am sure that it is not at all straightforward from a civil law perspective. And while imprudent and unethical, probably not illegal. again, a question for a lawyer.

The diocese will need enough information to investigate your claim. I don’t think it reasonable to expect the diocese (or any other institution) to provide you with counseling or money based on a claim that something happened with someone you won’t name and with no details.

Sorry for what happened to you. I would probably want to speak with the bishop directly rather than his secretary and if possible I would consider suing the priest individually rather than the Church, even if you were to get less out of it. When you sue the Church, you’re coming after me and every other Mass goer that puts money in the collection for the actions of one man we don’t even know. What could the (the Church) have done to stop what happened? I’m sorry to be so blunt.


She had asked why I didn’t want to reveal his name. I didn’t have an answer. I think it may be because I don’t want something terrible to happen to him. How twisted is that? I want nothing to do with him, he probably screwed me up in ways I don’t even know, and I am thinking that way.

I do forgive him though.

That may well be true, that he screwed you up in ways you don’t even know. You may think that you’ve forgiven him, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve quite taken in exactly what he did to you. A good therapist specializing in sexual abuse issues could help you sort all this out. She could help you understand why you have feelings of loyalty to someone who abused you. Why you want to protect someone who has exploited you.

I’ve read accounts of how victims have been shabbily treated, essentially revictimized, when they report to the diocese, which is why I recommended that you see an attorney specializing in this sort of thing.

One thing you need to realize is that he’s probably done the same thing to other young women. He may still be doing it. Try to see this predator for what he is.

I’m male…

Thanks for the info. I’m seriously considering talking to the diocese. I can’t afford a therapist alone and not many know of the situation.

The lawyer called me back and mentioned its been 6 years so its past the window. There’s not much I can do right now.

Apologies! :eek: Assumed you were female.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit