Contact Us Today

TO Request a free and Confidential consultation

Justice for California Sexual Abuse Survivors

Donahoo & Associates, in conjunction with James Vernon & Weeks, P.A., one of the nation’s leading law firms assisting sex-abuse survivors, has devoted a dedicated team of attorneys, paralegals and investigators to represent numerous survivors under the new law, empowering them and guiding them through the legal process.

Hundreds of credibly accused sex abusers from California have been named.

“The depth of abuse is staggering,” said Richard Donahoo, attorney, and principal of Donahoo & Associates.

“Survivors have carried the pain of their abuse for years,” added William Donahoo, a fellow attorney on the CA team. “Our hope is to help ease the suffering of our clients and allow them to move forward with less burdens from the past.”

diocese of santa rosa

On March 13, 2023, the Diocese of Santa Rosa filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. This means that if you were abused by someone from the Santa Rosa Diocese, you may file a claim through the federal bankruptcy court. We can help you. Contact us for filing deadlines related to the Diocese of Santa Rosa.
More than 750 credibly accused Catholic clergy abusers worked in California, according to one organization that tracks the abuse. Multiple priests and laity allegedly abused students and congregants in the Diocese of Orange, San Diego Diocese, and San Bernardino Diocese of California. If you or someone you know were sexually abused as a child, you can seek justice according to California law. Get your free and confidential case evaluation.

In Oakland, California, hundreds of children were sexually abused by Catholic priests meant to protect them. On May 8, 2023, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after being served with more than 330 civil lawsuits relating to clergy sexual abuse.
Here are lists of credibly accused priests in the Diocese of Orange, Diocese of San Diego, Diocese of San Bernardino, and elsewhere in California:
Our legal team has decades of experience using laws and compensation programs to bring hope, healing, and justice to abuse survivors.

Latest News & Blogs

From Victim to Survivor to Thriver

Bad things happen to all of us as children—sometimes terrible things—but we can survive them, heal and move on with our lives. Our goal is to help our clients move from victim to survivor to thriver, with a meaningful economic recovery that helps them restart their lives.
When clients first contact us, they have begun to realize that the abuse was not their fault and they are not alone. They were victims of a perpetrator who preyed upon their innocence and robbed them of their faith and trust.
Children rarely report abuse. The abuser, an institution, or society wrongfully shames them into silence. By coming forward and speaking out, victims of child sexual abuse begin the process of surviving the terrible harm. We empower them to overcome it using the law.

Shining Light on Sex Abuse

You are not alone. Millions of others have walked in your shoes. Sexual abuse is particularly heinous because of its long-term effect on everyday life. Forty percent of survivors have trouble at work or school. 37% have problems with family and friends.
The best way to stop the darkness is by shining a light. We can help you step out of the shadows. Our legal team can help.

Predators in Our Midst

It is a sad reality that some of the most trusted institutions and individuals in our communities have not done enough to protect children from abuse. The trust-based relationships between church and parishioner, troop leader and scout, coach and student, doctor and patient all leave children vulnerable. Abusers are adept at manipulating trust. They prey on that trust, confusing children and parents alike. Silence becomes the easiest path for everyone, allowing abuse to continue.

Abusive Priests and Church Leaders

In California, cases of abuse have been raised in all 11 Catholic Diocese, including the Diocese of Orange, San Diego Diocese and San Bernardino Diocese. Several of these Dioceses have created victim compensation funds in an effort to heal and move beyond the allegations of systemic abuse.
As leaders in a faith community, priests have great power. Parents historically entrusted them with their children for religious instruction. The church was a place for children to seek friendship and grace. It also created an environment that enabled ongoing, unchallenged sexual abuse. Others in positions of power such as coaches, teachers and other church leaders also abused children entrusted to them.
The Mormon church has also been embroiled in cases of sexual abuse. As in the Catholic church, Mormon leaders have greater access and broader authority over vulnerable children. When parents and children grant church leaders greater latitude, their trust is easily betrayed.

Abuse in Schools

Parents place their trust in schools to provide a safe learning environment for their children. They expect their children to respect and obey their teachers, coaches, counselors, and other school employees. Abusers use this authority to control, manipulate, and silence.

Private schools and boarding schools create an even greater power imbalance by increasing social pressure and access. Because students are away from parents and guardians, there is ample opportunity for abuse. Allegations of decades-long abuse at the Thacher School dramatically demonstrate how institutions can empower predators. Ojai's Thacher School recently acknowledged decades of abuse by teaching staff and other school employees at the elite boarding school. The recent 90-page Thacher School trustee report described alleged abuse by Willard “Bill” Wyman, Timothy Regan, Derick Perry, Dana Vancisin, Rod “Jake” Jacobsen, and John Friborg. Survivors of abuse at Thacher School now have an opportunity to seek compensation, and so should survivors of abuse at other institutions.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has structure and hierarchy that can hide abuse. Many boys have enjoyed the scouting experience, learning new skills and building relationships with older boy scouts and leaders. Abusers take advantage of the bond that forms between scouts and leaders. Because scouting activities are away from parents and guardians, there are plenty of opportunities for abuse. We can help, but you must act now to hold the BSA responsible.

Abuse in Athletics

Young athletes are particularly vulnerable to abuse by adults. Coaches, physical therapists, doctors and trainers all have unusually free access to the children. These authority figures can easily blur the lines between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. As recent cases have shown, abuse can be at an enormous scale, right under the watchful eyes of parents.

Why do Institutions Enable and Cover-Up for Abusers?

The evil of child sexual abuse extends beyond individual abusers to institutions and leaders who enable abusers and cover-up their abuse. Institutional enablement and cover-up takes many forms. It could be a school administrator who shames students into silence. It may be a bishop who reassigns a known pedophile priest to a new parish with unsuspecting children and parents, or a church leader who refuses to report child sexual abuse to civil authorities. It could be scout executives who conceal a boy scout leader’s perversion file.

The greater the institution’s reliance on its holy, pure, wholesome, or prestigious image, the greater the risk of cover-up. Why? Because some misguided institutional leaders faced with evidence of child sexual abuse tragically react by covering-up the abuse to protect the “good name” of the institution; they prioritize institutional image over child safety. This shields abusers from accountability and provides predators access to new and unsuspecting victims.

After decades of cover up, the reality of abuse at Thacher School is coming to light. Students who suffered abuse now have an opportunity under a new California law to seek compensation.

Legal Experts in Litigation and Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Our attorneys have the experience and legal expertise you need to pursue justice as a victim of child sexual abuse. We understand why it often takes decades for survivors to come forward with their stories. We know how hard it can be to fight back against powerful individuals and institutions. Let us help you get justice for the wrongs you endured.

Leander James

Providing resolution through Litigation and Settlements
Leander James empowers clients to obtain justice through litigation and negotiated settlements. He was the principal architect of the $166 million Northwest Jesuit sexual abuse settlement that included non-monetary terms for protection of children. His current cases include abuse cases in New York, Hawaii, Minnesota and other states. James has assisted in drafting key legislation, including New York State’s Child Victims Act. James is past president of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association and Idaho Trial Lawyers Association Foundation. He graduated from University of Idaho College of Law.

Craig Vernon

Delivering justice through civil litigation
Craig Vernon has extensive civil litigation experience. He is currently focusing his practice on survivors of childhood sexual abuse and protecting children of the future. He has represented hundreds of survivors in Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Utah, Washington, and Hawaii and the Navajo Nation. These cases general involved cases against powerful religious and other organizations that failed to protect children from sexual abuse by persons in power over them. Vernon graduated from the University of Idaho Law School.

Richard E. Donahoo

Pursuing justice for survivors through trial, appeal, settlement and arbitration
Richard E. Donahoo has extensive experience in both individual and class actions. His efforts have resulted in multi-million dollar judgments and restitution for his clients. Donahoo is a passionate
advocate for those who have survived injury and ordeal.
Donahoo was named Top Gun Trial Attorney of the Year (twice), California Top 100 Trial Lawyer (since 2007), and Southern California SuperLawyer (nine times). He practices in California state and federal courts as well as other state courts, appeals courts and the US Supreme Court. Donahoo graduated cum laude from California Western State College of Law.

William E. Donahoo

Representing plaintiffs against powerful interests
William E. Donahoo has more than 20 years of legal, business and senior executive experience. He helps clients navigate their options based on their individual experiences, and explains every step in the
litigation process. Donahoo participates in active litigation in addition to supervising cases. Donahoo was admitted to the California Bar after completing California’s Legal Apprenticeship program. He practices in California state and federal courts.

Sexual Abuse is Never OK

Many cases go unreported for years. Abusers often rely on their power position to keep their crime in the dark. Sexual abuse statistics are appalling.
Abusers use fear and shame as weapons. These emotions are very powerful. Much as survivors may want to move on, they cannot forget the betrayal.
Regain your power and obtain some measure of peace. We can help you seek compensation for the harm you suffered. End the silence and begin to heal.

Justice for Sexual Abuse Survivors

You deserve justice. We are committed to helping sexual abuse survivors get compensation and vindication. Our attorneys can help you take action against your abuser or the institution that provided protection.

Abuse Law FAQ

We are focused on obtaining justice for child sexual abuse survivors. Many survivors have only recently come to realize how deeply childhood abuse affected their life, and that compensation may be available. Before coming forward about the abuse, they want answers.

When did the Boy Scouts of America File for Bankruptcy?

On February 17, 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In response to increasing litigation stemming from years of failing to protect boys from being abused by its leaders, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, seeking relief from the mounting claims. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection allows the Boy Scouts of America to keep its doors open while actively working out a plan to compensate survivors of abuse, and other debts it may have.

What does the Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy Mean for Survivors of Scout Abuse?

Bankruptcy can provide an avenue for survivors to receive compensation and justice outside of traditional litigation. It is often easier for survivors to seek compensation and justice in a bankruptcy context than to pursue individual claims against those that harbored and protected their abusers. However, survivors must file a claim in the bankruptcy to be eligible and important deadlines for filing a claim against the Boy Scouts of America now apply.

Has it been too long since I was abused? Is there a statute of limitations?

Maybe not. New legislation in California may open a window for civil action for cases that are decades old. If you are considering a claim as a survivor of child sexual abuse, we urge you to seek legal counsel.

I was just a child. Who will believe me?

We will. The crimes perpetrated against children by adults in positions of power are abhorrent. We understand that when a child’s trust is betrayed in this way, it does enormous damage. Keeping it a secret feels like the only solution, but this creates even more damage over time. We will listen. We will care. We will seek the best remedy available for you.

What important deadlines apply for filing a claim against Boy Scouts of America?

The bankruptcy court set a claims bar date for November 16, 2020. A claims bar date is the last date by which the bankruptcy court will accept new claims. In other words, it is the deadline by which all survivors of child sexual abuse by a BSA volunteer, leader, employee, or other affiliated member must file their claim.

How can I file a claim against the Boy Scouts of America?

Claims in the Boy Scout of America Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be filed by filing a claim form with the court detailing certain information needed to evaluate the claim. If you would like assistance with filing a claim, we can help represent you throughout the process. For more information, please contact us today.

What is California AB 218 and how does that affect my claim?

AB 218 is a bill currently before the California governor for signature. When signed into law, this bill will open a window for child sexual abuse victims to pursue justice. The details are complicated and we urge
survivors to seek expert advice.

What is the California Catholic Diocese Victim Compensation program?

Six Catholic dioceses in California, including San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles, created a victim
compensation program allowing them to settle claims of clergy sexual abuse outside of court. This program is similar to others created in Colorado, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. To determine
if the compensation program is the best alternative for you, we encourage you to seek legal counsel.

Should I go direct to my Diocese to address my complaint?

This is of course an option. However, we encourage all survivors of child sexual abuse to seek legal counsel to ensure that all options are evaluated.

Why should I get legal representation first?

There are many potential remedies for each case of child sexual abuse. We recommend legal representation because it allows each individual to evaluate all their options. Legal representation opens avenues for both financial and non-monetary outcomes that help protect children in the future.

Contact us today

We're here to help.

Our experienced team of attorneys provides free, confidential, initial consultations. We believe all abuse survivors should know their legal options so they can seek empowerment, justice, compensation, and healing. Our team members have helped hundreds of survivors over many years, and we are here for you.

Request a free case review today!