Sexual Abuse or Assault in Schools
Santa Barbara and Ventura Sexual Abuse Victims Attorneys
Schools that fail to provide children a supportive and safe learning environment are unforgivable. It’s unthinkable that any kind of sexual misconduct could occur in any school. Unfortunately, sexual abuse incidents in schools have risen from 9,649 to 14,938 between the years of 2015 to 2018, based on the Department of Education’s (DOE) Civil Rights Data Collection report. Likewise, cases of attempted rape or rape doubled from 394 to 786.
Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children’s safety while in school. But if your child is sexual abuse victim, our Ventura and Santa Barbara school sexual abuse lawyers here at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, will help pursue justice for your child.
What Exactly is School Sexual Abuse?
- Inappropriate sexual innuendos and comments, ranging from subtle remarks to obvious harassment, from teachers, administrators, coaches, counselors, and other school staff.
- Spying on students when they’re showering or changing in the locker room.
- Exposing students to sexual and pornographic images or trying to photograph them naked.
- Threatening students into acting inappropriately or performing sexual acts.
- Sexual assault, including grabbing, groping, and/or force intercourse.
- Sexual acts or contact with students, regardless of whether students have given their consent.
Schools are Responsible for Our Children’s Safety
The DOE’s revised Title IX Final Rule details the vital legal obligations of school districts that provide greater protections for students against sexual misconduct. The revised Final Rule, among other things, include the following:
- Requires secondary and elementary schools to respond properly in cases where an employee has any notice of sexual misconduct, making it easier for students or parents to report the sexual abuse.
- Requires schools to inform parents and legal guardians of secondary and elementary school students of the school’s designated Title IX coordinator’s contact details and prominently display the details on their websites to facilitate easier and more effective communication between schools and parents.
- Enables any individual to report sexual misconduct, in writing or verbally, regardless of whether the individual reporting is the individual alleged to be the sexual abuse victim. This empowers everyone in the school to challenge sexual misconduct.
- Requires schools to investigate complaints right away.
- Requires schools to provide support to the alleged sexual abuse victim, free of charge.
- Requires proper training for all Title IX coordinators to ensure that they can help sexual abuse victims more effectively.
Sexual Abuse or Assault in Schools – FAQs
Do I Need a Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
Reporting to the authorities that your child was sexually abused or assaulted will lead to a criminal investigation that may result in criminal charges. But you must also know that you can file a civil lawsuit against the abuser to hold the defendant accountable and pursue monetary damages for your child.
When you file your lawsuit, and the jury or judge determines that your child was undoubtedly sexually abused, it will review the damages you are seeking and award them to you. This means that your lawsuit will be separate from the state’s criminal lawsuit because it does not establish the abuser’s innocence or guilt.
Instead, it must determine whether the abuser is liable for your child’s injuries and related damages. A seasoned California sexual abuse lawyer at Bamieh & De Smeth can help you better understand your options in a free case review.
Can I File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Even Without a Conviction?
While a criminal conviction can serve as strong evidence in a civil lawsuit against the sexual abuser, you can still file your lawsuit. This applies even if the abuser was never charged with a crime or a criminal conviction.
It’s also vital to note that apart from the abuser, you can also file claims against the school and other relevant parties because they failed to protect your child from sexual abuse. In such cases, schools fail to act or outright ignore evidence and warning signs that would have helped prevent the abuse from happening.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Sexual Abuse Case?
Sexual abuse survivors can seek different types of damages under California law. These include financial compensation for non-economic damages like physical injury, pain and suffering, and emotional distress, among others. You can likewise recover damages for economic losses. Most sexual abuse survivors would need intensive medical care, including psychological counseling and therapy.
In addition, many sexual abuse survivors may find it hard to complete their education or keep gainful employment because of the far-reaching effects of the emotional trauma from the sexual abuse incident. Depending on your child’s circumstances, you can also seek damages for future lost earnings or job opportunities.
What is The Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Cases in California?
California Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) provides childhood sexual abuse survivors five years from the discovery of the sexual abuse or until age 40 to sue their abusers. Before this law was passed in January 2020, the statute of limitations was three years from the discovery, or until age 26. Likewise, it suspends the time limit of three years to allow sexual abuse survivors of all ages to sue their abusers if they want to.
AB 218 also gives survivors five years from the discovery of a psychological injury because emotional trauma is, unfortunately, very common among sexual abuse survivors. Additionally, it allows the court to award treble damages to sexual abuse survivors in certain situations. This means that plaintiffs can potentially recover up to three times compensatory or actual damages.
Our Ventura and Santa Barbara Sexual Abuse Lawyers are Ready to Fight for Your Child
The Ventura and Santa Barbara sexual abuse lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, are dedicated to protecting and preserving your child’s rights when they’ve been sexually harassed, molested, assaulted, or otherwise abused by the same people you’re counting on to protect them.
If your child’s innocence has been robbed due to any kind of school sexual abuse by a school employee, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Ventura and Santa Barbara sexual abuse lawyers for a free consultation about your legal options. Call us at 805-643-5555 or contact us online for more details.