Filing A Civil Lawsuit For Child Sexual Abuse
Most civil lawsuits filed over childhood sexual abuse are premised on the legal concept of negligence, because most of these lawsuits are filed against negligent third-party organizations, rather than the direct perpetrators of abuse.
The doctrine of negligence recognizes that many institutions and individuals, from doctors and daycare centers to schools and church groups, owe children a duty of care, an obligation to protect them from dangerous sexual predators. Negligence is what occurs when one of these organizations or individuals fails to uphold that duty, allowing a sexual abuser to gain access to victims through carelessness, recklessness or misconduct.
- Religious communities, including the Catholic Church – Sexual abuse is shockingly common within religious organizations, especially communities that are cut off from wider society, either by custom or geography. Like the Catholic Church, many religious communities, including the Southern Baptists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, have a troubling history of concealing sexual abuse allegations from secular authorities.
- Schools, both public and private – While every school should be a sanctuary for students, thousands of children, from toddlers to teens, become the victims of sexual misconduct every year in public, private, boarding and religious educational programs.
- Preschools and daycares – Our youngest children should receive the utmost protection, but recent sexual abuse scandals arising in the daycare setting show that some organizations aren’t fit to care for our kids.
- Boy Scouts – While the Scout motto is “Be Prepared,” no parent can be prepared for the horror of learning that their child has been sexually abused. Yet Scouting often creates an ideal environment in which dangerous pedophiles gain access to children. In fact, recent reports suggest that the Boy Scouts of America have mishandled many past cases of molestation, even maintaining a so-called “Perversion Files” of Scout masters and volunteers who have been accused of child sexual abuse.
- Youth Sports – Whether sanctioned by one of the nation’s national governing bodies for Olympic-level competition or a pickup game in the park, youth sports programming has become a focal point for sexual abuse investigations in the past few years. Ever since the abuse of Larry Nassar, a USA Gymnastics doctor, came to light, the nation has been shocked again and again by new sexual abuse scandals from the world of youth sports. Whether as coaches, doctors, trainers or volunteers, dangerous pedophiles prey off the trust of young athletes to commit unspeakable crimes.
- Pediatricians – Over recent years, our attorneys have noticed a startling rise in the number of cases involving pediatricians abusing young patients. Many of these medical sexual abuse cases come to us from the world of colleges and schools, where predatory doctors can gain easy access to victims. Others arise in private practice or hospital settings.
New Child Sexual Abuse Legislature In Pennsylvania
As the wave of sexual abuse lawsuits has grown, even state legislators have been forced to act. In the face of widespread public pressure from sexual abuse survivors and advocates, the Governor of PA, Tom Wolf, made the momentous decision in November 2019 to extend the state statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse, allowing survivors until their 55th birthday to step forward and file a civil lawsuit against negligent parties.