Minneapolis attorney: Desire to help sexual abuse survivors fuels work

| January 8, 2019 | 0 Comments
Patrick Noaker

Patrick Noaker

A desire to help sexual abuse survivors fuels the work of a Minneapolis-based attorney representing two men who have accused former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of sexual abuse.

The men Patrick Noaker of Noaker Law Firm is representing found his firm through referrals from other attorneys, he said. One of the men is a former altar boy whose credible abuse accusation resulted in Archbishop McCarrick’s removal from public ministry last year; the other is James Grein of Virginia, who testified Dec. 27 to Church officials in New York.

A former public defender who has practiced law for 28 years and dealt with the gamut of criminal cases, including the death penalty, Noaker said victims of sexual abuse who are not heard and who don’t get help can suffer from depression, turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, or themselves become perpetrators of sexual abuse or other crimes.

“The whole system is checkered with people who have been abused as kids,” Noaker said. “They try to numb the pain. Then things spiral on them.”

Noaker said he wanted to catch people at the “top of the cliff” to help them seek justice and encourage them to get therapy and counseling, rather than at the “bottom of the cliff” facing criminal charges of their own. So he joined the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates of St. Paul about 18 years ago, and he formed his own firm about six years ago. Both firms specialize in representing survivors of sexual abuse and assault.

“If you get help to them early, everyone is better off,” Noaker said. “The person is better off, and there are no other victims.”

Pursuing justice with compassion also is important, said Noaker, 57. That includes helping survivors keep tabs on their cases through a secure website that tracks all court filings and other documents to help answer questions and empower clients to understand thoroughly their rights and the legal process, he said.

“Sexual abuse is so power driven,” he said. “It steals power — and we can provide more power.”

Being involved with a case going to the Vatican was humbling, Noaker said.

“I’m a courtroom lawyer,” he said. “I’m not a great policymaker. I’m pretty humbled to be in a position to be involved in a case like that.”

During his testiomy, Grein was treated with compassion, Noaker said.

“The … interrogator was very compassionate,” he said. “He did not in any way try to hurt James. He asked hard questions, but he was compassionate.”

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