Table Of Contents
What’s the problem?
While there has been a lot of publicity in the news about victimization by the Catholic church, sexual abuse can occur in many other religions including the Presbyterian faith. Whether it was a Presbyterian pastor, a priest, minister, rabbi, or any other member of a religious clergy who abused you, you deserve justice for the serious effect the abuse has had on your life.
Anyone raised in the Presbyterian faith is taught great reverence for the power and authority of the church. Too often, protecting the power and image of the church clergy is the driving rationalization for covering up their crimes against children. Church leaders too often cover up or turn a blind eye to evidence of child sexual abuse and attempt to deal with molestation exclusively as a matter of sin and not as the serious crime it is.
The Presbyterian Church Abuse Crisis
Over the decades, allegations of abuse by clergy at the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) have been far fewer than reported in the Southern Baptist Convention or the Catholic Church. However, survivors within the PCA say the denomination’s problems with abuse are just unaddressed. PCA has not commissioned an investigative report like the Baptist Church on its response to abuse cases.
PCA elders are now considering a number of new overtures, or church legislation, on the subject of abuse. Among them are a pair of proposals, one of which allows anyone to be a witness in church courts for abuse cases. Under the current system, only individuals who “believe in God, heaven, and hell” qualify to act as witnesses. The other new overture would require criminal background checks for new ministers and ministers transferring from other denominations.
According to PCA elders, the current Presbyterian Church has an ostensible system of leadership accountability which demonstrates how every denomination needs to have an outside body to help deal with reports of abuse. The denomination has the structure for abuse accountability in theory, but not in practice.
In 2022, a denominational committee released a 220-page report with recommendations for how churches should handle domestic abuse and sexual assault. It was designed to be a resource for leaders of local Presbyterian churches. Lacking a standardized reporting mechanism for abuse, victims have contacted the committee, which was not designed for that purpose.
In April 2023, the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJA) — essentially the “supreme court” of the PCA courts — exonerated PCA pastor Daniel Herron, who had sued for defamation 2 former church members who accused him of sexual harassment. The SJC declared him not guilty on the charges of harassment, his use of lawsuits against accusers, and his overall character as a minister.
Sexual Abuse Statistics
According to the federal government, victims of sexual abuse are three times more likely to suffer from depression, four times more likely to contemplate suicide, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. Further, 15% of sex abuse victims are under the age of 12, 44% of victims are under the age of 18, and 93% of children sexually abused know their attacker.
- Lawmakers Urge a Ban on NDA Agreements in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
- Nationwide Protestant Sexual Misconduct Claim
See all related sexual abuse lawsuits we’ve covered.
Do I have a Presbyterian Church Sex Abuse Lawsuit?
The Sexual Abuse Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in religious clergy sexual abuse & molestation lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Free Presbyterian Church Sexual Abuse Case Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been sexually abused or molested by a pastor or any other member of the clergy within the Presbyterian church, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help.