Seth Langson ’73 has been an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse for more than 30 years, taking on both individual abusers and institutions, including the Catholic Church, to secure justice for his clients.
In 2010, he reached a $1 million settlement with the diocese of Charlotte, N.C. That case, Price v. Diocese of Charlotte, helped shed light on a culture of secrecy and protection for abusive clergy members, and earned Langson and his client the 2016 North Carolina Advocates for Justice Kellie Crabtree Award for representation that helped protect people’s rights.
He believes there is still much work to be done. As Charlotte’s WBTV revealed this month, officials in the diocese “allowed priests to continue serving in active ministry, despite reports that those priests had engaged in inappropriate behavior.” This follows the August grand jury report from Pennsylvania that detailed abuse in Catholic dioceses throughout the state over the course of 70 years.
Langson told WBTV that “in his experience, local church leaders have been loath to act on reports of sexual abuse by priests.”
“They’ve been very protective of priests who’ve been accused,” Langson said. “Both welcoming and protective.”
Another barrier to justice has been the statute of limitations, resulting in the dismissal of many legal claims, though WBTV reported that in spite of “past difficulties he’s experienced in court, [Langson] still encourages those who feel they were abused to reach out and report what happened to them.”
Langson, who earned his B.A. in sociology from Hobart and his law degree from Boston College, is owner and principal at Seth Langson Law, where he focuses on representing survivors, advocacy against child sex abuse and advising non-profits and groups that work with children. He is a leadership team member of the Children’s Alliance and an officer and director of Brave Step, Inc., a North Carolina-based nonprofit that supports individuals affected by sexual abuse including survivors, parents and spouses. Providing adults with personalized care and trauma counseling free of charge, Brave Step’s vision is to lead survivors, parents and spouses to a life free of guilt, shame and sadness while combatting sexual abuse through community education.