An unexpected path: bankruptcy, justice and intersecting identities in the Catholic sexual abuse scandals

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This article will discuss how various identities inhabited by victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy may impact survivors' ability to find justice through legal processes. It also highlights two examples of patterns of response to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy in the United States. In prominent urban archdioceses, empowered survivors, often members of dominant social groups, have successfully utilised media and legal process — resulting in criminal convictions, large awards in civil court and the implementation of new prevention efforts. In large part, the public perception of who survivors are is based on this model. This article will discuss how this perception may be inaccurate; survivors in subaltern communities are likely to be under-represented, not only in public perception but also in terms of access to legal process and remedies. In certain US jurisdictions, however, bankruptcy cases filed by Catholic organisations may prove to be an intriguing legal process whereby some survivors have been able to secure remedies that could be described as restorative. Two of these jurisdictions, where most survivors are indigenous or Hispanic, will be highlighted in this article in order to consider how mechanisms other than traditional civil litigation may lower barriers to legal remedies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-287
Number of pages17
JournalThe Australian Feminist Law Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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