A January 7, 2020 article in the Plain Dealer details the criminal case of Rev. Robert McWilliams, a Catholic priest in Strongsville, Ohio who stands accused of illegally possessing child pornography.
McWilliams is facing criminal charges of illegally possessing child pornography in both Cuyahoga and Geauga County and is scheduled to appear in Chardon Municipal Court on January 24.
McWilliams was arrested during a December 5 raid of his living space at St. Joseph’s Church by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force on a warrant that originated in Geauga County. During the raid, investigators discovered additional images of child pornography unrelated to the Geauga County warrant, which lead to McWilliams facing additional charges in Cuyahoga County. McWilliams has been charged in Cuyahoga County with illegally using a minor in nudity-oriented material, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, and possessing criminal tools.
According to a Geauga County prosecutor, Geauga County officials believe McWilliams was posing as a stranger and contacting children he knew, then extorting the children to send him nude photographs.
Robenalt Law Investigates Claims Against Sexual Predators
Unfortunately, headlines like these are all too common. And while a criminal prosecution can result in jail time for the accused, victims may feel like too little is done to address the traumatic injuries they suffered at the hands of sexual predators and the people that enable them.
At Robenalt Law our lawyers handle civil cases against churches, schools, universities, and employers that enable people to prey on children and other vulnerable people, and hold them accountable for the harm they have caused.
We recognize that no amount of money can truly make up for the trauma suffered by a someone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, especially if the victim was a minor. However, victims of sexual abuse are entitled to compensation from the people responsible. This includes the perpetrator, of course, but also includes the people and entities that knew or should have known about the sexual abuse but failed to do enough to stop it.
Victims may be able to seek compensation for sexual abuse including:
Costs of therapy and medical treatment
Damage to family relationships
Pain and suffering
Civil Lawsuits Hold Perpetrators and the People Around Them Responsible
The differences between a civil case and a criminal case are significant. In a civil case the burden of proof is lower, as the victim must only prove his case by a preponderance of the evidence, as opposed to the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a civil case, rather than facing jail time, the defendants face the possibility of owing monetary damages that can help a victim put their life back together after suffering from sexual abuse.
In many cases, people around the abuser knew that the abuse was happening but failed to act to prevent it. These people and the organization they work for can be held responsible if their actions or failures to act created a situation that allowed the abuse to continue. Cases against the Catholic Church are a prime example, as records have been uncovered which show that Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals, and even the pope knew about rampant sexual abuse but failed to take action to prevent it.
Ohio Has Longer Statute of Limitations for Victims of Sexual Abuse
Because sexual abuse can be so traumatic, Ohio law gives victims of sexual abuse a longer time - until they are 30 years old - to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers. And if evidence of sexual abuse was concealed, victims have even longer.
If you were a victim of sexual abuse, you may be entitled to compensation, and the trial lawyers at Robenalt Law are here to help.
We investigate and handle claims of sexual abuse on a contingency fee, which means we don’t get paid unless we recover money for you.
Put our experience to work and have us investigate whether you have a civil claim for sexual abuse. We recognize that no amount of money will make up for the trauma you suffered, but it can help pay for treatment, heal family relationships, and more.
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