Methods for Pursuing Restitution, Compensation for Pain and Suffering, and Payment for Therapy and Medication
The decision regarding whether an MK who has been victimized wishes to find restitution is often determined by complex factors which are individual for each victim and their families. Once a decision to proceed is made, there are several avenues for pursuing restitution, including arbitration, mediation, litigation and other types of alternative dispute resolution. MKSN does not recommend any one of these modalities. The individual must make that decision. We do, however, want to make information available to those who wish to seek restitution or other compensation.
It is important to contact professional mediators and lawyers in both the state you currently reside as well as in the state in which the denomination or mission agency is incorporated.
Basic information regarding mediation and litigation:
Mediation - is often done using registered organizations or individuals with qualifications which meet State standards. The terms of mediation are determined by the parties involved. Each party can be represented by their lawyer in addition to having the mediator involved. Direct mediation can occur with a lawyer who represents the victim and a lawyer representing the involved organization or abuser.
Civil Litigation - through the courts can be done individually, as a class action, or as a group of victims and/or families. It is quite difficult to meet the criteria for establishing a class action. Starting legal action as a group of victims from the same school or organization is generally the most effective approach.
Some things to keep in mind:
The Statute of Limitations can impact mediation, and is very important in civil action. Generally, but not always, litigation is filed in the state in which the organization or denomination is incorporated, or in which the perpetrator lives. If you have an interest in taking this route, it is important to know the statute of limitation which apply to you. The following website provides information on what the statute is in each State.
A note: In some states, the Statute of Limitation begins running when a victim has discovered the abuse happened to him/her as well to others. The Statute of Limitations can also begin running when a victim realizes that the Church, mission or denomination knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it. Once a victim is outside the Statute of Limitation there are fewer options for him/her. So it is important to educate yourself so you can make an informed decision within that period. A lawyer can advise regarding this.
Finding lawyers with experience re clergy abuse
If you are interested in contacting a lawyer with expertise in representing victims who have been abused by clergy and within mission/church contexts, Jeff Anderson's firm in Illinois http://andersonadvocates.com/default.aspx or Peter Janci at Crew Janci in Oregon http://crewjanci.com/attorneys/peter-janci/ Either of these law firms can help you find a lawyer in your state.