Sex Abuse Victims Able to Receive Justice, Restitution

By Scott Muska
Daily Times
July 1, 2008

SALISBURY — Victims of childhood sexual abuse by priests in Delaware or Maryland have a chance to anonymously come forth to collect restitution within the next year.

The Delaware Child Victim's Act of 2007 lifted a previous two-year statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes to enable victims to file suits before a July 2009 deadline. The act also abolished the statute of limitations on future molestation crimes.

"I've been practicing law for 35 years and this is one of the most personally gratifying experiences I've had," said Thomas Crumplar, a lawyer from Jacobs & Crumplar — a law firm that has specialized in priest molestation cases for the past five years in a joint venture with the Neuberger law firm. "We're helping to correct a huge injustice and partially heal victims. These people that were basically shut out and ignored have a feeling now that someone's listening to them and taking it very seriously."

Crumplar said some victims have already received significant financial settlements from churches after coming forth, and two cases have been completely resolved out of court while a third has been partially resolved.

"The Diocese of Wilmington has been willing to come forward and pay compensation once they've seen what may happen in court," he said.

Stephen Neuberger said the benefit of victims coming forth is two-fold.

"Not only are these people helping themselves, but they're also taking a very important step towards protecting children," Neuberger said. "By coming forward, they are able to identify who the person is committing the crime and by getting that information out, parents can make informed decisions about where their children go and who they are allowed to be around. It really helps raise public awareness."

Neuberger said the act has helped hold the perpetrators accountable as well as the organizations that allowed the crimes to happen.

"Things like this could have been prevented if there had been more accountability years ago, and if some of the churches had taken action or investigated the priests that had been accused," he said.

Crumplar stressed victims are able to consult with his firm anonymously and for no charge.

"It takes a lot of courage to come forward and we realize it's a difficult thing," he said. "Any call is confidential, and people can call to find out about their rights and some of the possibilities; but there's no obligation to file a suit or take it any further. It's important to act soon, though, because we take a lot of time to investigate each case in order to verify the facts before filing suit."



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