Orphanage Abuse Lawyer
Are you the victim of child sexual abuse? Did the assault happen recently or decades ago?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys work as legal advocates for sexual abuse victims nationwide and can help you too. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Call our abuse injury law firm now at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. We are available and ready for your call 24/7.
Many children are victims of abuse in orphanages due to the lack of supervision and care. Orphanages, foster care, and group homes give adults access to children to take advantage of vulnerable youth. Other factors contribute to this issue, such as poverty, poor nutrition, and neglectful parental figures.
Orphanages, religious organizations, and institutions provide children safe houses. For example, an institutional setting for a boy or girl could include a boy's ranch, orphanage, foster home, group home, or youth home.
Unfortunately, many safe houses and foster home centers are dangerous environments where sexual perpetrators can commit heinous acts nearly undetected.
Sexual Abuse in Orphanages and Foster Care Homes
Child sexual abuse can impact the victim into adulthood. As a parent, guardian, or volunteer in an organization that works with children and teenagers, it is important to be more vigilant about your behavior towards the maturing victim.
There should also be better resources for those abused, including education on how trauma impacts brain development throughout life stages of growth and maturity.
Religious Organizations, including the Roman Catholic Diocese, Have Hidden Allegations by the Sexually Abused
For decades, church leaders in religious organizations, including the Roman Catholic diocese, had hidden their predatory religious leaders from the congregation, community, and law enforcement.
As a result, many of these predators faced allegations of sexual abuse involving children and vulnerable young adults, creating dangerous environments where sex acts with children went unreported.
Much like the unacceptable behavior in the Catholic Church, many youth organizations like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and YMCA failed to protect children and young adults from being sexually abused by those in authority.
Much like victims of sexual assault living in foster care homes and orphanages, the sex abuse survivors in the Boy Scouts and other dangerous environments remained silent, where the predator and employer (the Catholic Church or another religious organization) were never held accountable.
The Lasting Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse
An American Journal of Orthopsychiatry study explained that sexual abuse in orphanages affects psychological and social development.
It also says that conditions such as poverty are very influential during these times of an individual's life, which cause them to develop later and have lasting effects on their overall mental health and well-being.
PTSD (post-traumatic syndrome) is often the result of childhood sexual abuse. The condition can develop into depression, anxiety, and a lack of trust towards other people. There are also physical effects that individuals will endure, such as chronic pain and fatigue.
The effects of PTSD could include reduced self-esteem, lack of trust in others, and an increased risk for revictimization, and an increased risk for additional harm.
The study suggests that it can also negatively impact sexual development, including low interest in participating due to anxiety or avoidance. The data explained that sexual abuse in orphanages affects psychological and social development.
There are steps that sexual assault victims can take to improve their quality of life. First, seek therapy and a support system to better cope with the pressure that has been brought upon you, avoiding further mental health issues in the future.
The first step is admitting an issue rather than trying to lie or hide behind factual data. It may seem like no one knows about what happened, but you should trust yourself and know it affects you.
Managing the Psychological Effects of Child Sex Abuse
The psychological effects of abuse are often hard to manage because a victim may not recognize the signs of what happened or even who they are. It will take time and effort, but it is important for your well-being and happiness, so please seek help if needed.
Psychological Trauma, Pressure or Coercion of Childhood Abuse
In many cases, the abuser will try to lie and say that they are helping you when, in reality, they are taking advantage of your vulnerability. They may even tell you that if you ever reveal what is happening, no one will believe you or that the activities are just parental and child affection behaviors.
They may even threaten if you tell anyone or try to get help. It is important to remember that it is not your fault, and nothing is ever worth going through such horror.
If you have been pressured or coerced into any inappropriate sexual activities throughout your life, know that you are not alone and there is help available. Please never feel ashamed of who you are and what happened to you, as this will only make the situation worse.
Get the authorities involved if someone close to you keeps a secret about any activities forced upon them or if the abuse is threatening retaliation if you tell anyone what they did.
In many cases, abusers have been known to follow through with their threats resulting in restraining orders or worse. Unfortunately, this will not help, and it may only cause more harm.
People are willing to help you find assistance for your situation, and it is important to speak with someone about your ordeal.
Talking With Family and Friends
As a child growing up, you should be able to trust your parents and caregivers. So, when you are being forced to do things that your mind is screaming no to, it can be a confusing and terrifying time in your life.
Never blame yourself, it is not your fault, and no one has the right to treat you in such a horrible way. Here are some steps for children who have been through such abuse:
- Keep a detailed journal of everything that happened through the years, identifying the abuser and others that might be involved
- If you can get away from your abuser, do so immediately and seek out others you can trust to say what occurred
Prepare yourself for the first time you talk about this as it may become increasingly difficult to explain what happened. The more you put this behind you, the easier it will be to tell others what occurred.
The sooner this situation is brought into the open, the better off you will be in the long run. Whatever fear you have of telling someone or the stigma associated with these types of actions, you will gain nothing by keeping this to yourself.
Many others who have been sexually abused find it challenging to develop normal relationships. However, others have sought out help to move forward with their lives.
Children should avoid hiding what occurred from their parents, even if they think they will not understand or attempt to blame them for what happened. Instead, expect them to be emotionally charged by your report and know that they will likely want to hold the abuser accountable.
Although challenging, all you need to do is tell someone about what happened to begin the healing process. If you find it too difficult or cannot get up the courage, have others make contact on your behalf while you listen.
Telling others in a confidential setting could let your feelings out without dealing with this directly yourself. There are also numerous resources available from your local police department or victims' assistance group.
Even if you may not remember everything, it is still possible for someone to help you deal with this situation and find a way to at least try and put the pieces back together. Keep in touch with those who have been a key part of this situation, as if you are the only one trying to get through this, it can be challenging.
Moving Forward, Past Childhood Sexual Abuse
Allow yourself to grieve as there is nothing wrong with feeling sad about what has occurred. Healthy grieving does not mean that you are wallowing in self-pity but rather getting all of those pent-up emotions out into the open so that you can once again be at peace.
It is also possible to have a happy and content life after being in an abusive situation, as many individuals have made great strides in getting over their past. If crying helps, then go ahead and let yourself out as it will not impede any future success you may have both now or down the road.
No one deserves to be treated in this manner, and as such, it is important to realize that only you can change how you view yourself.
Recognize that nightmares, flashbacks, and irrational fears are just things that many people experience after being abused. Know that these fears do not mean that you have a problem. You only have a struggle coping with what took place that was out of your control.
The 5 Stages of Child Sex Abuse
In a study by Karen Wurtele, she analyzes five stages in the development of childhood sexual abuse as defined by J. Conte. The stages include:
- The first stage is "situational factors" and describes the situation in which their abusers catch children off guard
- The second stage is "disclosure factors," which allows children to report abuse when they feel comfortable or confident about doing so
- The third stage is "factors related to the child's family." These would include both protective and risk factors that could lead them to experience further abuse or neglect
- The fourth stage is "factors related to disclosure," including those who receive the child's report, how the child is treated after reporting the abuse and if the abuser is prosecuted
- The final stage, which only has two sub-divisions, is "effects on the child's development," which describes the impact of early sexual experiences on both cognitive and social development
The study concluded that factors that influence a child's disclosure of sexual abuse are numerous and complex. There is currently not enough information to provide a universal answer for why some children disclose their abuse while others do not.
Also, there is no consensus on when children should be considered competent enough to disclose in the course of the abuse. However, it seems that children are more likely to disclose abuse in the presence of supportive adults who make them feel safe and valued.
These individuals are less likely to judge or blame victims for their experiences, ask non-leading questions during interviews, and be sensitive when disclosing information about the abuse.
St. Joseph's Orphanage
Many past residents of the former St. Joseph's orphanage in Burlington, Vermont, allege physical and sexual abuse at the facility. The abuses described include:
- Forced separation of siblings
- Extreme violence
- Repeated rapes by multiple perpetrators
- An instance of a child's arm being broken as punishment
However, Mr. Mahar and others who defend St Joseph's orphanage claim that these allegations are false memories implanted by "falsely accusing adults."
The case was brought to trial in 2006. On December 20th of that year, the judge ruled that St. Joseph's Orphanage could not be held accountable for abuses committed years ago. Repressed memory syndrome is one of many possible explanations given by Mahar and others to explain accusations of abuse at St. Joseph's orphanage.
News reports reveal that a new law could provide additional legal opportunities for St. Joseph's orphanage survivors to file civil lawsuits against the religious organization for creating a dangerous environment in an institutional setting.
In addition, personal injury attorneys are working to support sexual abuse survivors to hold the orphanage, church, religious organization, and foster care home legally and financially accountable by filing civil claims.
Repressed Memory Syndrome
The theory of repressed memory syndrome suggests that the mind protects itself by blocking memories of these incidents during traumatic events. It is argued that these repressed memories only surface years later.
These claims have helped many child abuse victims find justice within the court system and allowed some guilty parties to remain unpunished.
The theory of repressed memory suggests that memories, especially traumatic ones, can be blocked from conscious recollection and stored in the subconscious mind.
This repression is a possible defense against child abuse and sexual assault, as it allows the victim to recall information without reliving the events. However, many psychologists believe that such repression occurs naturally during the psychological response to trauma.
Description of Repressed Memory Syndrome (RMS)
Repressed memory syndrome is a term coined by psychologist Lenore Terr in the early 1990s to describe some individuals who experience dissociative amnesia but without any known history of head injury or neurological disease.
It includes people who allege they have recovered memories of child sexual abuse that were previously repressed, and it is this aspect of the term that provoked the most controversy. However, it has been argued (by Richard McNally) that there are no convincing demonstrations of a false memory syndrome.
Symptoms of Repressed Memory Syndrome
According to Terr, symptoms of repressed memories can include:
- Feelings of alienation and withdrawal
- Poor interpersonal relationships
- Sexual dysfunction
Psychologists Lenore Terr and Harold Merskey have written that the essential feature of repressed memory syndrome (RMS) is a cluster of symptoms that may include impaired memory for traumatic events, altered self-perception, and a distinctive personality change.
Theories of Repressed Memory Syndrome
Some theories suggest that repressed memory syndrome results from traumatic memories being encoded differently by the brain.
Other theories focus more on psychological aspects of repression. The first theory, proposed by psychotherapist Francine Shapiro in 1991, suggests that traumatic memories are encoded differently from regular memories to be recalled without the typical associations.
The second theory is proposed by Richard McNally and asserts that there does not exist any repressed memory but rather what is occurring is an artifact of retrieval.
The Legal Rights of a Victim of Orphanage Abuse
Are you a victim of child sexual abuse while staying in an orphanage or foster home? If so, your legal options may be limited due to state laws that can make it difficult for victims to file lawsuits against the institutions where they were abused.
Child sexual abuse occurs mainly when an abuser is a person the child is close to or dependent on who gains access to the child.
Laws vary from state to state on how long a victim has to file a lawsuit against an institution for sexual abuse, but in all states, there is usually no limit of time for filing charges related to child sexual abuse.
There are also certain institutions that can be held liable when their employees commit child sexual abuse.
The two main types of institutions that can be sued for sexual misconduct are:
- State-run child care facilities where the abuser was a state employee
- Private child care facilities where a government agency provides supervision
In addition, all institutions that provide any public service must protect the children who use their services from harm, sexual assault, and physical and emotional abuse.
Cases Where Abuse Occurred in Orphanages and Foster Care Group Home
In 2000, approximately 1.8 million vulnerable children resided in orphanages, with an estimated 120,000 orphans having no families at all. Ninety percent of these children are over six years old, and nationwide, 57% of them suffer from some disability or mental illness.
Child sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and psychological trauma are not uncommon within institutional settings and statistics.
These statistics are alarming, but the actual extent of child sexual abuse in these institutions is difficult to determine because many cases go unreported due to social stigma or because an institution prefers not to report specific accusations.
There have been several accounts of child sexual abuse committed by orphanages and foster homes throughout history.
- In 1983, a thirteen-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a Roman Catholic Church Brother in the family's care. Her parents were told that if they made the sexual abuse public, their children would be taken away from them and put into foster care.
- In 1985, the Illinois Department of Public Aid investigated McKay Family Services after accusations that at least ten children had been molested in their care.
- In 1989, seven girls were sexually abused, raped, and impregnated by two men who worked as counselors for a YMCA group home in Pennsylvania.
- In 1991, 63 counts of sexual abuse against ten boys between 1988 and 1991 at the Nazareth Child Care Center in Kentucky were filed.
- In 1995, the Florida Times-Union wrote an expose relating to a pattern of abuse and neglect of children in Jacksonville foster homes and residential facilities who had disabilities between 1984 and 1994.
- In 1998, a former employee of Boys' Town was convicted on nineteen counts of sexually abusing boys in his care.
- In 1998, four employees of the Clovertree Treatment Center were convicted of abusing residents between 1993 and 1996.
In recent years, there have been several incidents of abuse at Florida group homes for children. For example, in 2008, five staff members at a Citrus County residence for abused children were accused of fondling and forcibly performing oral sex on two boys.
A staff member at a Broward County facility was accused of raping a 10-year-old girl in 2009. In addition, an Orange Park Medical Center employee was convicted of sexual battery against children with disabilities living there in 2010.
Tennessee Childhood Physical Abuse Case
In 2012, several employees at group homes were arrested for abusing seven boys under their care. The abuse ranged from forcing the children to fight each other for entertainment and amusement to subjecting them to severe beatings with blunt objects that left them unable to walk or sit for extended periods.
The employees in question were caught on camera participating in the abuse, which took place between 2009-2012. After being indicted, the employees who made up the "Fight Club" pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 49 years in prison.
The assistant administrator of one of these group homes, Cheatham Hill LLC in Nashville, Sevier County, was indicted on eight counts of aggravated child abuse for her role in the Fight Club. To this day, she maintains her innocence, despite pleading guilty in 2012.
Proliferating Child Pornography
The sexual abuse of children is not limited to the acts themselves. In some cases, perpetrators have taken advantage of their position to gather and proliferate child pornography.
- In 1958, Gerald Klespinski was convicted under an anti-obscenity law for taking photos of young girls without their consent. He served just five years of an 8-15 year sentence before being released on parole. After his release, Klespinski changed his name to Jerry Allen Avedon and went on to take photographs that both critics and the public alike well received.
- In 1984, an administrator at the Casa by the Sea in Ensenada, Mexico, had approximately 150 pornographic photographs of teenage boys. The administrator confessed and said he had been involved with these activities for several years leading up to his arrest.
- In 1992, four boys residing at Pacific Colony's Hephzibah House were survivors of sexual exploitation after pornographic images they had taken were distributed throughout the institution.
The proliferation of child pornography in group homes has been a problem for decades. For example, in 1984, a staff member at the Glen Mills School for Boys in Pennsylvania was indicted on thirty-five counts of pornography.
Hire Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers to Resolve Your Compensation Case
Were you the victim of child sexual abuse? Did the horrific event happen weeks, months, years, or decades ago?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our sex abuse injury attorneys are legal advocates to all survivors of molestation. We are ready to listen to your story in a confidential setting to respect your privacy.
Call an orphanage abuse lawyer today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation, even if the abuse occurred decades ago. We accept all cases through a contingency fee agreement, meaning no upfront fees are required until the case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury verdict.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with your sexual abuse injury lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship. Our personal injury attorneys work in numerous practice areas, including sexual abuse, nursing home neglect, medical malpractice, car accidents, product liability, defective drugs, premises liability, and wrongful death.