Can I File Without Alerting/Telling My Family?
Clergy sexual abuse and other assault cases are extremely sensitive for survivors. Many struggle with coming forward, naming their perpetrators and seeking justice for their losses through public outlets. For some, the main deterrent from speaking up is the idea of friends and family members finding out. Many abuse survivors have kept their experiences a secret and do not wish family members to know, even as they fight for justice.
Your desire for privacy should not interfere with your right to speak out against sexual abuse. At Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, we know how to handle California sexual abuse and assault claims while prioritizing our clients’ privacy. We can help you petition the courts to use a pseudonym instead of your real name during lawsuit proceedings, as well as appear in court on your behalf. You can even file your claim without alerting your family if you are an adult over the age of 18. Contact us to discuss your case in private with one of our lead attorneys today.
Minor Plaintiffs vs. Adults
If you are a minor under the age of 18 in California, your parents will need to know of your intent to file a lawsuit against a member of the clergy or against the diocese. You will need your parents or legal guardians to act as your representatives during the claim. Your parents will need to serve as the plaintiff during your case unless you prefer to wait until you turn 18 to act as the plaintiff yourself. If the courts give your parents an award on your behalf, it will go into a holding account with your name on it until you turn of age.
If you are an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, you may be able to keep your case out of the public eye and even a secret from your family members with the right attorney. As an adult, you will not need anyone in your family to represent you or sign off on filing a suit. You and your attorney can handle the claim confidentially. The only situation in which your family might discover the lawsuit is if the courts deny your request to use a pseudonym and the case goes public.
How to Protect Your Privacy During a Sex Abuse Suit
Hire an attorney for assistance if you wish to file a lawsuit for clergy abuse without telling your family. A lawyer will understand how the courts operate in terms of plaintiffs’ privacy. In most court cases, the public will have open access to the identities and information involved in the lawsuit. Anything that occurs during the trial will become part of public record. During cases involving sensitive information relating to a crime of a sexual nature, however, the plaintiff’s wellbeing may take precedence over the public’s right to an open court.
Your lawyer can petition the courts to allow you to use a pseudonym during your sex abuse case. Most courts will grant these petitions under the assumption that exposing the plaintiff’s identity could cause him or her significant emotional harm, embarrassment, humiliation, shame or injury to reputation. If the court believes respecting your privacy is in the interest of the fair administration of justice, he or she may limit the public’s access to a trial and sensitive, identifying information. The judge must find your privacy considerations outweigh the importance of public interest in open proceedings to grant the petition.
If you wish to come forward with a claim about sexual abuse without alerting anyone in your family, call Manly, Stewart & Finaldi for a confidential consultation. Our initial consultations are free and nonobligatory. We will never alert a potential client’s family as to inquiries about a potential lawsuit. Discuss your privacy concerns and wishes with our lawyers to find out how we can help. We may be able to convince the courts to accept your request to use a pseudonym and limit the public’s access to proceedings. We may also be able to help you reach a settlement or verdict without alerting your family. Call (855) 944-0710 today for more information.