Kline & Specter, PC, has obtained the largest-ever settlement against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in a clergy sexual abuse case where an altar boy was abused by a serial pedophile priest. Kline & Specter has obtained many other large recoveries for victims of sexual abuse.

If you or a loved one was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest, Kline & Specter, with more than 50 experienced attorneys, handles priest sexual abuse cases with compassion, confidentiality and expertise. It is critical to contact a priest abuse attorney soon in cases involving sexual abuse because of statutes of limitations, which differ in various states. (more information below).

Following a grand jury report that more than 1,000 children were abused by some 300 priests across Pennsylvania, state legislators have been considering measures to extend the statute of limitations – or make exceptions or “windows” to the limitations – that would allow civil redress for victims. Proponents feel that an extension is necessary because children often avoid telling about abuse until they are adults. 

Sexual abuse lawyers and lawsuits

Kline & Specter joined the Pennsylvania attorney general in filing suit with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to make public the recent 880-page grand jury report that detailed instances of child sexual abuse by priests since 1947.

Kline & Specter had many highly publicized successes in lawsuits against sexual abusers, including its 2018 settlement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In that case, the victim, former altar boy Sean McIlmail, tormented for years over his experience, died of a drug overdose at the age of 26. The exact monetary settlement was confidential.

In 2023, the firm obtained a $3.5 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in a case alleging one of its priests, the late Pastor John Close, sexually assaulted a then-14-year-old boy who attended religious classes at St. Katherine’s of Sienna, in Wayne, Pa. The assault occurred in 2006. (News coverage) 

Compassionate Sexual Abuse Lawyers with Decades of Experience

Kline & Specter has litigated many sexual abuse cases, including that of “Victim No. 5,” who was represented by Tom Kline in the infamous Jerry Sandusky scandal that resulted in Penn State agreeing to pay $60 million to all the victims involved in the litigation. (View coverage)

In another case, Kline along with Nadeem Bezar and Emily Marks, attorneys who have many years of experience with sexual abuse litigation, in March 2017 filed the first civil suit under a Pennsylvania human trafficking statute. The suit was filed against a motel owner and manager on behalf of a teenage girl who was enslaved and forced to perform sexual acts over nearly two years. (News coverage)

The firm's sex abuse attorneys won a $5.35 million verdict in 2016 against Presbyterian Children’s Village for twice placing a young girl in a temporary foster home where she was sexually molested. (Read the article)

Kline & Specter also filed suit on behalf of a 29-year-old former student of the Solebury School in Bucks County, Pa., who claimed she was sexually abused by her gym teacher between 2003 and 2005. The suit followed a grand jury report detailing instances of sexual abuse at the school over a 50-year period.

Statutes of Limitations in Sex Abuse Lawsuits

It is important to contact a sexual abuse lawyer soon in cases against a sexual abuser or third party, such as a school or church, because states have different statutes of limitations for civil actions. Pennsylvania, for example, allows victims to file such lawsuits until age 30, while New Jersey allows only two years from “reasonable discovery” of harm. Delaware has removed any limitation in sexual abuse cases, while New York allows suits to be filed until age 23 against an abuser and 21 against a third party. See a list of all state statutes compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Experienced Legal Representation You Can Trust

Among other Kline & Specter sexual abuse lawsuits are:

  • In the highly publicized “House of Horrors” case, Shanin Specter, Dominic Guerrini and Tracie Palmer sued a social services provider, child advocates, and the City of Philadelphia, as responsible for 10 years of torture endured by a young girl after she was placed under the care of an abusive aunt who had been previously convicted of third-degree murder. The case was settled in 2015 for $3.5 million. 
  • Kline reached a settlement of up to $3.8 million against a Pennsylvania psychotherapist who abused and photographed his teenage patient. In addition to monetary compensation, the therapist was also forced to make a lengthy public apology and agreed never to practice again.
  • Specter represented a 12-year-old boy who was assaulted at a charter school. The case resulted in a $2 million settlement.
  • David Inscho represented a young man who was repeatedly abused by his mentor through a local organization. Although criminal prosecution was barred because the events took place years earlier, Inscho was able to investigate the case through the civil justice system and obtain a significant monetary recovery for the victim.
  • The firm achieved a $7 million settlement against a child welfare agency in the highly publicized death of a four-year-old girl who was accidentally shot by her father. An official investigation into the April 2016 shooting reportedly found that the child and six siblings lived in squalid conditions in their Philadelphia home.
  • A $5 million settlement was reached with two child placement agencies over a 2016 incident in which a 10-year-old boy was neglected to the point at which he died due to an intestinal blockage.

Learn more about this topic in our blog

Sex Abuse Victim Statistics

Experts agree that the prevalence of child sexual abuse is hard to accurately determine because it is vastly underreported to authorities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), only about 30 percent of all sexual assault cases are reported. In 2012, 62,939 cases of child sexual abuse were reported.

Disclosures of sexual abuse typically unfold gradually and can often be presented as a series of hints by victims to someone they trust. When children do disclose, it is frequently to a parent, sibling, friend or sometimes a teacher. Very few actually disclose sexual abuse to authorities or professionals other than teachers, according to NSOPW. It is estimated that 30 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members, 10 percent are strangers to the child, and 60 percent are known to the child but are not family members, such as family friends, babysitters, neighbors, and teachers.

According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds in this country, with many of the victims being children. Overall, 17 percent of boys and 25 percent of girls are sexually abused before the age of 18, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). RAINN notes that nearly 40 percent of victims experience later relationship issues with family and friends as well as with co-workers. The likelihood that a person suffers depressive or suicidal thoughts also greatly increases after experiencing sexual abuse.

Although nothing can make up for the pain endured by sexual abuse victims, bringing their perpetrators to justice can help begin the healing process and ensure that others are not made to suffer at their hands.

Kline & Specter Clergy and Priest abuse news: 

News coverage of $3.5 million settlement with Archdiocese of Philadelphia in priest abuse case, CNN, 8/10/23Law360, 8/10/23WPVI-TV 6, 8/9/23 (Watch video); The Legal Intelligencer, 8/9/23

Federal prosecutors find a way to revive abuse-related case against defrocked Philly priestThe Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/5/19; WCAU-TV-6PM (Watch Video); WCAU-TV-4PM (Watch Video)

Phila. Archdiocese's Ownership of Jersey Shore Property Means Sex Abuse Suit Stays in NJThe Legal Intelligencer, 3/26/19

Philly Priest Abuse Suit Stays In NJ, Opening Door For Others, Law360, 3/25/19 

Merson warns of low, inadequate diocese paymentsNew Castle News 2/16/19

David Inscho Interviewed On Clergy Abuse Grand Jury Report, BBC Radio 4, 8/14/18

Dave Inscho interviewed on clergy abuse grand jury report, MSNBC 8/15/18

Will Grand Jury Report on church sex abuse lead to new suits, The Legal Intelligencer, 8/15/18

Release report on Catholic priest abuse allegations nowThe Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/10/18

Inscho comments on grand jury report in clergy sex abuse scandal, NBC 10, 7/9/18Telemundo 62, 7/9/18

Sex-abuse victim asks Supreme Court to release grand jury report, Metro, 7/9/18

In largest reported payout yet, Philadelphia Archdiocese settles abuse lawsuitThe Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/25/18

Tom Kline comments on overturned conviction in the McIlmail priest abuse case, CBS 3, 12/22/15 6pm;  CBS 3, 12/22/15 11pm

Tom Kline comments on the McIlmail priest abuse case, CBS 3 9/22/15