It is shocking enough to see news reports that a teacher, school counselor, or administrator has been accused of sexual misconduct with a student, but it is especially horrifying to imagine it happening to our own children. The sexual abuse attorneysat Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are committed to protecting your children’s rights when they have been harmed by the people you trusted to help them learn and grow into responsible adults in a private or public school setting.If your child has been the victim of sexual abuse at school, we can investigate the facts and pursue the justice you and your child deserve.
Alarming Abuse Rates
When considering the fear and shame that dissuade children from reporting sexual abuse to their parents or the authorities, it is disturbing to know that there are 80,000 such cases reported in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, countless more cases go unreported because the victims feel too ashamed or afraid. A report released in 2000 revealed that nearly 10 percent of elementary and secondary school students are subjected to some form of sexual abuse at some point during their education. This means that 4.5 million students in the country are at risk.
It is essential to understand that sexual abuse does not always require a physical act. Following is some of the conduct that can be considered sexual abuse in the school setting:
- Inappropriate sexual comments made by a teacher, counselor, coach or administrator. These can range from subtle come-ons to blatant harassment.
- Exposing students to pornographic images or attempting to photograph students in the nude.
- Spying on students while they are changing or showering in a locker room before or after gym class or following sports practice.
- Making sexual contact with students or performing sexual acts, regardless of whether the student has consented to such acts.
- Sexual assault such as groping, grabbing, or forced intercourse.
- Using threats to coerce students into performing sexual acts or acting inappropriately.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Just as not all victims of sexual abuse come forward, in some instances a student may be willingly taking part in inappropriate sexual activity. This does not make it any more appropriate or legal on the part of the adult predator. As parents, we worry about our children’s safety and fear we may be unable to protect them when they need it most. There are ways you can detect the signs of sexual abuse, however, so you can investigate any evidence of misconduct and seek punishment for the adult who is exploiting or hurting your child.
Here are some of the signs to look for when identifying sexual abuse:
- Suspicious or inappropriate text messages.
- Frequent phone calls to your child from a teacher or other school staff member outside of school hours.
- Sudden behavioral changes in your child and withdrawal from social activities.
- Unexplained physical marks on your child’s body.
- Direct accusations of abuse.
Legal Claims and Court Awards for School Sexual Abuse
Girl Receives $800,000 after School Sexual Abuse Incident
The victim in this case was a 16-year-old student at a Chicago-area high school. One day, she was in a car with one of her teachers when he started to kiss and fondle her breasts. The authorities found out and a civil case was filed for emotional trauma and other damages. The defendants in this case were the teacher involved as well as the Chicago Board of Education. Her claimed harms included PTSD, medical bills (almost $100,000 worth), and other damages. The defendants were unable to explain why the two were alone in the teacher’s car in the first place, which made their case an uphill battle from the start. The defendants chose to settle rather than fight the matter in court. The teacher paid $20,000 and the Chicago Board of Education paid $780,000 to the victim.
Mother Brings Lawsuit After Her Two Girls Were Abused
This case only came to light after the perpetrator harassed one of the victims through a text message. The victims were two sisters who attended a preschool together. The preschool owner’s husband sexually abused them from 2011 until 2014. The man was eventually arrested and sentenced to over 20 years in prison. The family sued the school, and in a private settlement they obtained almost $700,000 for the harms done to the children.
Illinois High School Reaches Settlement with Girls Alleging Abuse
Four anonymous plaintiffs came forward and sued a music teacher at Evanston Township High School and the school district for sexual abuse. They said the district should have known what was going on. The school district vigorously defended itself against the suit. It said it had no knowledge of the abuse and could not have reasonably expected this was going on. Nevertheless, the district finally settled with the plaintiffs and agreed to give $100,000 to fund programs designed to stop child sexual assault and abuse.
Let Our Sexual Abuse Attorneys Fight for Your Child’s Rights
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is committed to the aggressive pursuit of justice when a child has been sexually assaulted, molested or harassed by a member of his or her school’s staff. In addition to filing criminal charges against the offender, you may wish to hold the school itself civilly liable for not taking the necessary measures to prevent sexual abuse. If your child has been the victim of this type of abuse, contact our office to learn more about the legal options available to you during a free consultation.
It is essential to send a loud and clear message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, which is why our attorneys will work tirelessly to hold educational institutions responsible for your child’s abuse. By seeking the maximum compensation allowed by law, we can help ensure that schools will take more appropriate preventative measures in the future. Our attorneys work entirely on contingency, so you can rest easy that you will never owe us any fees unless we win compensation on your behalf.