- Sexual Abuse
For 20 years, Jessica Arbour has been a dedicated and compassionate advocate for survivors of sexual abuse nationwide.
Jessica Arbour joined Horowitz Law as of counsel in 2018, bringing two decades of experience as an attorney and paralegal to our team. She has been a colleague of Adam Horowitz, Horowitz Law’s managing partner, for nearly as long. They continue to work together as a skilled and effective team for survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation across the country.
Together, Adam and Jessica have handled cases of clergy sexual abuse in Florida and nationwide. In 2010, the two obtained a landmark decision in a lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Little Rock by a woman sexually exploited by her parish priest, a known serial predator of vulnerable adult women in the Little Rock area. The Diocese asserted that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution barred the plaintiff’s lawsuit because it would infringe upon the Free Exercise of Religion clause to allow the Diocese to be sued. A loss would mean that no survivor of clergy sexual abuse could ever seek justice in Arkansas Courts.
But Adam and Jessica persevered, and in a lengthy written decision, they won the nuanced legal argument and eventually obtained a significant settlement for their client. They have had similar successes fighting other legal arguments intended to close our courthouses to survivors of abuse, including the statute of limitations and attempts to keep damning information about the Church’s coverup of sexual abuse from the general public.
In 2021, Jessica won a critical motion to compel the Diocese of Scranton in Pennsylvania to turn over confidential documents relating to nearly 90 priests accused of sexual misconduct since the early 1960s. Many of the priests were identified in the landmark Grand Jury Report published in August 2018, including the alleged perpetrator in the underlying case, Fr. Joseph Meighan. (John Doe 103 v. Diocese of Scranton, Lackawanna County, case no. 20 CV 2938).
In 2022, amidst contentious litigation, Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice refused to sit for deposition to answer for his employment decisions regarding a problematic priest who was eventually accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, Fr. Neil McLoughlin. Bishop Dewane’s legal team argued that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prevented Jessica from taking the deposition of the perpetrator’s only supervisor. However, Jessica prevailed upon the highly nuanced legal argument once again, and the Court ordered Bishop Dewane to sit for deposition. (L.B. v. Diocese of Venice in Florida, Inc., et al., case no. 2019 CA 005300 NC, Sarasota County, 2022 WL 2954154).
Jessica and Adam were among the first to sue disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein following his arrest by Palm Beach Police in 2006 for sexually abusing and trafficking children at his Palm Beach, Florida, home.
In 2011, Jessica was part of a two-lawyer team that obtained a $100 million verdict against one of the Archdiocese of Miami’s most notorious and prolific predator priests, Fr. Neil Doherty. It was the largest verdict in the State of Florida and the eighteenth largest in the country that year.
Jessica, an Avvo-rated attorney, has repeatedly been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star in both Florida and Illinois. She has also been nominated for the American Bar Association’s Child Advocacy Award. Her work is regularly featured in the international media.
Over the years, Jessica’s clients have often remarked on the patience and compassion she shows them throughout one of the hardest times of their lives. Helping clients obtain some measure of justice and accountability means far more to her than any awards or accolades ever could.
Prior to attending law school, Jessica worked as a paralegal in one of the nation’s top firms for clergy sexual abuse survivors. In that position, she frequently deployed for long-term assignments in Northern California, Chicago, and across the country, handling everything from massive written discovery projects, the review of hundreds of priest personnel files, and the preparation and coordination of the depositions of some of the most important leaders of the Catholic Church. Since becoming an attorney more than a decade ago, Jessica has herself deposed some of the highest-ranking officials in America’s Catholic Church.
Jessica has also worked as an associate attorney in one of Florida’s largest law firms, handling matters of negligent security, wrongful death, and employment discrimination. During that employment, she tried several complex matters to a jury and prevailed in each one.
Jessica graduated from DePaul University College of Law in 2009. She attended the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts.
Jessica is licensed to practice before the state courts of Florida (2009) and Illinois (2014). She is also licensed in several U.S. District Courts in Illinois and Florida, as well as the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (2019). She has been admitted to practice pro hac vice in other jurisdictions, including New York, Indiana, and New Jersey.
- DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Illinois
- University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota
- B.A., Bachelor of Arts - 2000
- Florida, 2009
- Illinois, 2014
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 2019
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida
- Avvo-rated attorney
- Super Lawyers Rising Star in both Florida and Illinois