Defending the Rights of Sexual Abuse Victims
Sexual abuse of a child is a horrific crime that has both civil and criminal penalties. The child, who can barely identify with oneself and lacks total consenting maturity, is left with life-long feelings of doubt, despair, depression, and embarrassment. It only takes a single event of improper touching to cause an avalanche on prolonged damage through adulthood.
Studies by the Crimes Against Children Research Center show that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized and over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized. In addition, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well. A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults and can become suicidal.
To address both the impact on the victim and the culpability of the perpetrator, a civil lawsuit can be filed against both the perpetrator, and often times their employer under theories of negligent hiring, supervision and training. Claims against these employers are designed to prevent the systematic allowance of abuse by their failure to properly hiring, supervise and training of the molester. Employers, supervisors, co-workers and other adults may also hold some responsibility for these horrific acts. These individuals may have failed to conduct sufficient background checks, investigate complaints or report suspicious behavior to law enforcement.
Unlike a criminal suit where the concern is focused on prosecuting the sexual offender, and does little to protect the victim’s civil claims, a civil suit compensates the victim for the pain and suffering they endured as result of the conduct by both the perpetrator and any entity or person in charge of that victimizer. There is some justice when sexual assailants are convicted and sent to prison, but it doesn’t obliterate the pain and traumas borne by the victim and his or her family nor illuminate how such an unspeakable calamity could occur.
Oftentimes, the criminal justice system lets these victims down by failing to prosecute the sex offenders or failing to obtain a conviction against these offenders. This is where a civil attorney can step in for the victims by prosecuting a civil claim against the perpetrators and/or others which may be found liable for money damages including employers who know or should know that they are employing or continuing to employ sexual predators. This can include corporate entity, religious institution or any other legal organization where there is insufficient background check done prior to hiring by these entities. Other times, the employer ignores clear indications that they are employing a potential sexual predator. In other situations it is as simply as a total lack of adequate supervision of employees which creates an environment that allows for sexual assaults and/or abuse to occur. A civil lawsuit can be transformative, foster change, and provide remedies to the private rights of victims. Although a lawsuit cannot erase the harm caused by the perpetrator, it allows victims to obtain compensation for damages which can pay for medical or therapy bills, loss wages, loss of enjoyment in life and provide a sense of vindication that can help assist with recovery and healing.
Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP strives to guard the welfare of innocent children, and to fight for a safer future for them in their lives and community. If your child was sexually victimized, contact our firm for guidance through this most difficult time to see how we can help protect and preserve the innocence of our most vulnerable youth.