Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Organizations that should be teaching children and helping them to grow have instead become places where predators are allowed to sexually abuse children. These predators are often shielded because organizations ignore or dismiss the allegations. If you are one of these survivors, we may be able to help.
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Suing the Institutions That Failed to Protect You

Institutions that have not taken actions to stop abuse by teachers, priests, coaches, or doctors need to be held accountable for their failure to act and to protect the children who are in their care.

Lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg are currently filing lawsuits on behalf of childhood sexual assault victims. As survivors reach out to our team, we plan to file more lawsuits against those organizations who are shielding abusers.

If you have been the victim of childhood sexual abuse and you want to sue the organizations who permitted this to happen you, contact our offices for a confidential discussion.

Organizations Who Didn’t Prevent Child Sex Abuse

Statistics show that children are more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know rather than by a stranger.

Often this person is someone in a position of authority:

  • Religious leaders.
  • Coaches.
  • Athletic trainers or sports doctors.
  • Teachers.
  • Volunteer youth leaders.
  • Foster parents.
  • Medical professionals.

Under the guise of working to help the child, this person exploits the relationship and sexually abuses the child. Often, the abuser is part of a larger institution. That institution has a responsibility for the actions of that abuser, and to make an appropriate response, if there are allegations of improper conduct.

Unfortunately, many institutions do not help the victim but move to shield the abuser. This is done to protect the reputation of the institution, to try to shield it from financial responsibility, or to avoid litigation. Complaints are ignored, records are hidden, and rather than being punished, accused child abusers are moved from one position to another.

Priest holding book

Roman Catholic Church

One of the institutions with a long history of covering up sexual abuse is the Roman Catholic Church. Priests would force children to perform sexual acts, telling them it was important to save their souls. The priests threatened the children if they didn’t comply or if they told anyone what was happening to them.

When complaints about a priest did come out Church authorities would:

  • Minimize what had happened, using phrases like “inappropriate contact,” rather than “rape.”
  • Accused priests would not be punished; they were reassigned to other parishes and the community would not be informed as to the reason.
  • Accused priests would not be barred from working with children but would continue in the same role in a different church.
  • Records would not be kept of the reported abuse.

This systematic approach within the church has led to numerous lawsuits being filed on behalf of the survivors of sexual childhood abuse. Priests and church administrators are now being held accountable for years of ignoring abuse.(1) (2)

Boy Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has already paid out millions of dollars to victims of child sex abuse who were sexually abused by scout leaders.(3)

While the BSA did keep records of abuse complaints against volunteer leaders, it did not act on those complaints.

Recent lawsuits have proven that there was:

  • No active screening program in use to protect scouts from abuse.
  • No training program to educate, train, and warn parents and adult volunteers about the dangers of sexual abuse.
  • No actions taken to follow-up on allegations, saying it was the word of a child against the word of an adult.

The failure to follow-up on complaints is particularly disturbing because not only did it allow the abuser to continue his actions, but it also reinforced the survivor’s trauma in not being believed and not being supported.

Classroom with desks

Schools

Children spend a large portion of each day in school and are exposed to a many adult authority figures:

  • Teachers.
  • Administrators.
  • Classroom aides.
  • Janitors and custodians.
  • Administrative personnel.

By failing to put proper hiring screening procedures into place or to monitor the actions of these employees, child have been left open to harm.

And by failing to keep and share records of reports of abuse between other schools in their districts, and in other jurisdictions, schools have put children at risk.

Athletic Teams

Children participate in all types of athletic activities:

  • School team sports like football, track, swimming, and soccer.
  • Organized leagues outside of school.
  • Competitive leagues like gymnastics and swimming.

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They are under the influence of coaches, assistant coaches, trainers and doctors. These authority figures have almost unlimited access to the young people on the team. And, they have the added power of controlling when and if the athlete will be able to compete.

Authority figures in a child’s athletic world have enormous power and can use that power to sexually abuse a child. That abuse risk is greatly increased if athletic administrators and governing leagues do not have anti-abuse policies in place and don’t react quickly to accusations of sexual abuse.

As the example of the scandal with the USA Gymnastics women and the team doctor hired to care for them has shown the depth of the problem. The young women were lied to about what was being done, told it was necessary, and notified that if they complained about the abuse they were undergoing, they would be dropped from the team.(4)

Summer Camps

Summer camps are an ideal location for potential abuse because the child is:

  • In a strange location, removed from the familiar places a child might know for help
  • Removed from parents and family, with no easy way to contact them.
  • In a new environment, with different rules, regulations, and social patterns.
  • Staying overnight and sleeping there.

In this new world, a child has to rely on an authority figure to know how to act. The leadership at the camp has to actively screen employees to keep potential abusers out and monitor all their employees.

Leadership has to be trained to know the warning signs of childhood sexual abuse and to take action if abuse is suspected. If not, the organization must be held responsible.

Security officer at jail

Juvenile Detention Centers

Children being placed in detention centers are in a completely strange, new environment where they have very little control over what is happening. Any authority figure is totally in charge and has the power of punishment if the child disobeys a command. This is a prime opportunity for a child abuser to take advantage of a victim.

This is a situation where the burden of prevention falls very heavily on the administrators of the facility. There have to be strong policies in place, and followed, to handle sexual abuse. Administrators must be trained for warning signs and must be ready to take action. Failure to do so can lead to trauma for the child and lawsuits for the facility.

  1. Otterman, S. The New York Times. (2018, September 18). Brooklyn Diocese Is Part of $27.5 Million Settlement in 4 Sex Abuse Cases. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/18/nyregion/catholic-church-sex-abuse-settlement-brooklyn.html
  2. Goodstein, L. and Otterman, S. The New York Times. (2018, August 14). Catholic Priests Abused 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania, Report Says. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/catholic-church-sex-abuse-pennsylvania.html
  3. Lardieri, A. (2018, December 13). Boy Scouts of America Weighs Bankruptcy Options Amid Sexual Abuse Lawsuits. Retrieved from: https://msn.com/en-us/news/us/boy-scouts-of-america-weighs-bankruptcy-options-amid-sexual-abuse-lawsuits/ar-BBQUdyT
  4. Kirby, J. (2018, May 16). Vox. The sex abuse scandal surrounding USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, explained. Retrieved from: https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/1/19/16897722/sexual-abuse-usa-gymnastics-larry-nassar-explained

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