Civil Sex Abuse & Assault Cases – Three Case Analyses


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Civil sexual abuse and sexual assault cases are increasingly common, due in large part to increased media attention about the problem. The national dialogue has shifted, which in turn has helped victims find the courage to come forward and seek justice.

Related: Help Fight for Victims of Child Sex Abuse and Molestation

Civil cases are often filed against the immediate or direct perpetrator, the individual who actually committed the act(s). They are also being filed against indirect perpetrators, individuals and business entities, both public and private, which failed to stop the abuse or otherwise failed to report the abuser to law enforcement. This is common in institutional sex abuse cases, such as:

  • school sex abuse,
  • church/priest sex abuse, and
  • medical professional sex abuse.

School Sex Abuse – Civil Cases

Civil cases involving sex abuse committed in a school setting often include the perpetrator who committed the acts of abuse, such as the teacher, coach, principal, etc. In addition, under state and federal laws, the schools themselves may also be held liable for essentially harboring the sexual predators. Liability often stems from learning about acts of abuse and failing to take appropriate action.

More: A Recent Teacher Sex Abuse Case at a PA Elementary School

For example, a teacher sexually abuses a student at a school. The teacher began having increased contact with the specific student, keeping her after school, in between classes, etc. Others at the school took notice, some even made comments and remarks to persons in charge, i.e., those with the duty and power to take action. However, whether due to ignorance of reporting requirements or just plain negligence, school administrators brush off the reports and take no action. The student is eventually raped by the teacher. In this situation, the school may be liable for failing to protect the student after having reasonable suspicions of the abuse.

Church Sex Abuse – Civil Cases

Church leaders such as priests, pastors, nuns, etc., are equally capable of committing sex abuse and sex assault. The priest sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church is a prime example. Like with civil school sex abuse cases, both the direct perpetrator and the entity (church) may be held liable. However, one key difference is that in civil church sex abuse cases, there is often evidence that church officials intentionally protected the sexual predators by trying to quash reports of sexual misconduct and/or moving priests/pastors around.

Related: What happens in a civil priest/pastor sex abuse lawsuit?

Medical Professional Sex Abuse – Civil Cases

Civil sex abuse cases involving doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are often filed against the direct perpetrator as well as others, such as:

  • the medical office/practice where the abuse occurred,
  • prior businesses which employed the perpetrator, and
  • other medical professionals who knew about the abuse but did nothing.

In civil cases, perpetrators of sexual abuse and sexual assault may be ordered to pay financial compensation to the victims. In civil sex abuse cases, courts routinely order financial compensation for:

  • medical/psychological treatment,
  • lost wages/economic expenses, and
  • pain and suffering.

About Brian Kent, Civil Sex Abuse Lawyer in Pennsylvania & New Jersey

Attorney Brian Kent is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now represents victims of sex abuse in civil cases. Please call for a free, confidential case review at Click To Call.

Visit our civil sex abuse law library for more information.

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