Girls abused by clergy members, and others, are focus of new team

http://www.startribune.com/girls-abused-by-clergy-members-and-others-are-focus-of-new-team/362116891/

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Woman’s suit against Lutheran youth pastor is first in an effort to get more to step forward.

A national team of lawyers has joined forces to focus on a group of children who are underrepresented in clergy abuse cases — namely, girls.

The group announced its first legal action Monday, a suit by a Minnesota woman who charges that she was sexually abused for several years in the 1970s by a former youth minister at Zion Lutheran Church in Hopkins.

Although 1 in 4 girls reports being a victim of child sex abuse in national studies, just a small fraction of them take advantage of laws that permit victims to seek legal remedy in decades-old cases, Patrick Noaker, a Minneapolis attorney who is part of the team, said at a news conference.

The relatively small number of women stepping forward is true not just for clergy sex abuse, said fellow team member Marci Hamilton. In general, girls are reluctant to report abuse by coaches, teachers, family members and family friends, Hamilton said. Yet all can be sued through the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which allows older abuse cases to have their day in court.

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