Sexual and Physical Abuse in Pennsylvania or New Jersey Institutions and Hospitals


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The elderly, children and mentally ill or challenged are common victims of institutional abuse, which is usually perpetrated by an employee. However, such abuse can also be perpetrated by other patients. Whether by an employee or a fellow patient, sexual and physical abuse occurs in all settings, such as:

  • schools,
  • hospitals,
  • inpatient/outpatient centers,
  • day care centers,
  • half-way/recovery houses,
  • psychiatric hospitals,
  • juvenile detention facilities, and
  • jails/prisons.

Many cases of abuse occur because the institution failed to prevent the abuse, even after having knowledge of it or having knowledge of prior complaints against the employee or patient. This almost always results in further cases of abuse and will result in liability of all those involved, including the institution itself.

Naturally, the first question that comes to mind in such a case is, “How did the school (or hospital, day care center, etc.) continue to allow a child molester or rapist to work at their facility?” After representing countless sex abuse victims, I can tell you that there are two typical responses, or causes of such institutional abuse.

The Two Causes of Sex Abuse Within an Institution

1. Disbelief, or the excuse that no one believed that this person could commit this type of abuse. It’s what I like to call, the “bury your head in the sand” approach. In these situations, there most likely were prior complaints about the employee or patient, yet the institution failed to investigate or report those complaints. The institution literally does nothing, hoping that the problem goes away. It buries its head in the sand, refusing to believe that this abuse was possible. But instead, the abuser abuses others.

2. The second response reveals a pervasive diffusion of responsibility within the institution, or the “it was someone else’s responsibility” response. This occurs in situations where others within the institution have either seen or heard of the abuse, yet do nothing. Here, the institution is guilty of failing to protect the victim and stop the abuse after having reasonable knowledge of it. Employees often admit that they just didn’t think it was their job to do anything about it.

Sexual or physical abuse within institutions is a tragic reality. The elderly, children and disabled people are often targets. An institution which harbors an abuser, whether a patient or an employee, may face civil liability for failing to protect people within its care. The laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey provide for such liability and those abused can seek justice, including punitive damages, or damages designed to punish the wrongdoer.

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To submit your case for review by our Pennsylvania and New Jersey school sex abuse civil rights lawyers, call Click To Call. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation, and can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

Our attorneys serve sexual abuse victims in the following areas: Atlantic County, NJ; Burlington County, NJ; Camden County, NJ; Cumberland County, NJ; Gloucester County, NJ; Salem County, NJ; Allegheny County, PA; Berks County, PA; Bucks County, PA; Chester County, PA; Delaware County, PA; Lehigh County, PA; Montgomery County, PA; Northampton County, PA: Philadelphia County, PA; New Castle County, DE; Kent County, DE; Atlantic City, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Newark, NJ; Doylestown, PA; Media, PA; West Chester, PA; Norristown, PA; Camden, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Newark, DE; Georgetown, DE; and New Castle, DE. Our lawyers can also obtain special admission in other states such as New York or Delaware on a case by case basis.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Published: June 4, 2012