Recent changes in Louisiana law have changed the time limits for filing a clergy abuse case. Previously, a sexual abuse case against a member of the clergy had to be filed before an individual turned age 28. Now, a clergy abuse case may be filed anytime.
If you are over age 21 and pursue a sexual abuse claim against a member of the clergy, you must file certificates of merit. One must be executed by your attorney and one by a licensed mental health practitioner.
Attorney certificate of merit
Your attorney’s certificate of merit must state that they have reviewed the facts of your case and consulted with a licensed mental health practitioner who the attorney reasonably believes has knowledge of the relevant issues and facts involved in your case.
The mental health practitioner must be licensed in the state of Louisiana. The attorney’s certificate must conclude that based on their consultation with the mental health practitioner, they believe there is merit to your case.
Mental health practitioner certificate of merit
The certificate of merit field by the licensed mental health practitioner must state that they have interviewed you, know the relevant facts and issues and based on that they believe that you have been subject to physical abuse or criminal sexual activity during your childhood.
After the certificates of merit are filed, the court will review them and determine if you have a reasonable and valid claim. The defendants in your claim will not be named until the courts review the case.
What if the statute of limitations is going to run out?
You may be concerned because you are filing your action close to the time the statute of limitations will run. Louisiana law states that your attorney can file your action with a statement that the consultation could not be obtained before the statute of limitations would run out.
The court may then allow you to file your certificates of merit within 60 days of filing your clergy abuse claim.
Being a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy is a traumatizing experience that often has lifetime effects. The law allows you to pursue justice with the help of a trusted professional.