Last month, Philadelphia crime victim injury lawyer Brian Kent filed a lawsuit against a local area priest and the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The lawsuit alleges sexual abuse by former priest Andrew McCormick. The abuse is alleged to have occurred in 1997 when the plaintiff, identified as “John Doe,” was merely 10 years old. The case was filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Civil Trial Division.
Kent filed the case after conclusion of the criminal case. Two trials ended in a hung jury, the first in March 2014 and the second in March 2015. As a result of the hung jury results, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has indicated it will not seek to retry McCormick.
Many survivors of abuse are misinformed about their civil legal rights which exist independently of any rights in criminal cases. Even if a criminal case ends in a not guilty verdict, a civil case may still be successful. That’s because the standard of proof applicable in each type of case is different.
In criminal cases, the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden of proof and requires enough evidence that no reasonable doubt exists as to the defendant’s guilt. In contrast, the burden of proof in civil cases is much lower. In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff merely has to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the evidence must show the plaintiff’s claims are more likely true than false.
In Mr. Kent’s most recent priest abuse case, the lower burden of proof applies. Hence, the case may be successful despite the fact that the criminal case did not result in a guilty verdict.
This isn’t the first time Brian Kent as taken on a high profile child molestation case against a mammoth defendant. Roughly 3 years ago, Mr. Kent agreed to represent a man who, on his own, had filed a special lawsuit against a state court judge in Delaware. The criminal statute of limitations had expired, thus leaving only the civil remedy (lawsuit).
The client then tried to find lawyers in Delaware to represent him, only to have doors slammed in his face. No one wanted to take on a sitting state court judge for a decades old child molestation lawsuit.
Finally, the client contacted a national crime victim advocate organization and was referred to Mr. Kent who, upon hearing of the details, felt it was his moral obligation to take the case. Despite receiving a surprising amount of backlash from the legal community in Delaware, Mr. Kent persevered. Ultimately, the judge admitted to committing the acts of abuse and also agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to Mr. Kent’s client. In addition, the judge was removed from the bench and disbarred.
Get more info about priest and clergy abuse lawsuits.
Priest, Clergy Sex Abuse Lawyer, Brian Kent
Mr. Kent is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now helps victims obtain justice in the civil courts. Please call Mr. Kent for a free case review. 215.399.9255 (Downtown Philadelphia).
DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.