In the midst of what he calls “an epidemic of sexual abuse,” Howard Janet and his Baltimore law firm are taking steps to build “a world-class sexual abuse division” to help survivors in Maryland and beyond find justice.
The managing partner of Janet, Janet & Suggs LLC (JJS) said the firm has recorded precedent-setting verdicts and settlements, often in the fields of medical malpractice, serious personal injury, sexual abuse and environmental hazards.
Most recently JJS brought on Richard M. Serbin, a sexual abuse attorney widely known for being among the first to bring sexual abuse claims against Catholic clergy, as well as the Church itself for enabling the abusers. His work, which included uncovering hidden archives of abuse by priests and representing hundreds of survivors, was cited in the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that identified over 300 abusive priests over a period of 70 years.
The BBJ caught up with Janet to talk about Serbin, taking on sexual assault cases and what else the national firm is up to.
Why is JJS creating a sexual abuse division and taking on cases against abusive priests?
The Catholic Church should be held accountable in civil litigation for their role in aiding and abetting child predators and enabling them to sexually abuse and violate innocent children for decades. This is a local, national and global issue. Thanks to the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that has received worldwide notoriety, more sexual abuse survivors feel safe in sharing the stories of abuse they suffered at the hands of catholic clergy.
Richard’s uncovering of the secret archives, along with his hours of factual and expert testimony, were central to the grand jury’s work. The grand jury, along with the Pennsylvania Attorney General, recognized Richard’s accomplishments and continuing work on behalf of survivors.
So, what does that mean for survivors here in Maryland?
Reportedly, the Maryland Attorney General has opened an investigation into sexual abuse of Marylanders and the Church’s complicity in concealing this activity for decades. Maryland will likely face the same question that Pennsylvania and other states and even other countries have or will be grappling with — whether to rewrite statutes of limitations to provide survivors with an opportunity to seek the justice they deserve.
What is another local case JJS has taken on under the umbrella of sexual assault?
I helped spearhead the record-setting $190 million settlement with Johns Hopkins Hospital on behalf of more than 8,000 Baltimore women who were secretly photographed during pelvic exams.
Is JJS involved with any philanthropic efforts?
The firm founded and supports the nonprofit, CP Family Network, one of the largest organizations serving individuals and families impacted by cerebral palsy and other birth injuries.
What’s the firm’s next steps with the nonprofit?
This year, we launched the #MyWish program, which benefits families living with cerebral palsy. We recently awarded grants totaling more than $25,000 to 27 families from across the United States. For 2019, we intend to commit at least half of these grants to the Baltimore area.
We intend to help facilitate the ability of these families to share their stories. We are hopeful they will be able to comfort one another and learn from one another. If our efforts help families become aware of services that they did not know existed or help them find their way to a particular physician or facility that has proven itself to provide the best care possible to children or adults living with cerebral palsy that would be a worthwhile accomplishment.