Clergy, Boy Scout, Camp Counselor Sexual Abuse

Although sexual assault most commonly occurs at the hands of a family member or friend, many survivors of sexual assault were abused by individuals with authority or positions of trust in relationship to the survivor. Members of the clergy, Boy Scout leaders, or summer camp counselors have garnered much attention for claims being lain at their feet in recent years. Claims of sexual assault become much more nefarious where not only does the bad actor have authority over the victim, but where the assaulting person is also in a position granted trust as a matter of course. Prior to recent revelations, a Priest or Boy Scout leader would generally be considered some of the most trusted people in any given community.

Survivors of sexual assault may still be suffering from the injuries inflicted in their youth, regardless of how long ago the assault occurred. Survivors of childhood sexual assault sometime are unwilling or unable to report their trauma until later in life, and in some cases, the silence is never broken. The reasons for keeping the assault private are varied, but likely revolve around some combination of fear, embarrassment, institutional disbelief or dismissal, and outright intimidation. Given the weight carried by sexual assault survivors, many are not prepared to report their experience until later in life, sometimes decades after the assault.

Statutes of limitations have barred many legal claims for injuries suffered at the hand of a sexual assault perpetrator. Often, institutions are also responsible for the injuries because of their negligence—or sometimes, complicity—in allowing the abuser to have continued access to children. Justice is not served where survivors lose any chance of recovery three years after the assault occurs. In some states, a claimant would be required to file a notice within 90-days of the assault or forever lose their right to sue if the institution was a public school.

Survivors of sexual assault may deal with feelings of shame and confusion for lengthy periods of time. Later in life, many years past the date of the assault, the consequences of the injuries sustained begin to affect the survivor. The survivor may encounter unexpected emotional difficulties in relationships, even in otherwise rewarding relationships with a loving spouse or partner. Sometime, treatment from a psychologist or doctor is required to fully understand the negative impact of the sexual assault. Given the length of time between a sexual assault and the manifestation of injury as a result, statutes of limitation appear facially unjust.

After a long push by sexual assault survivors’ advocates, states are enacting “revival windows.” A revival window sets a particular time period under which the survivor can sue an individual or institution, regardless of when the assault occurred. Many time barred claims are now “revived,” but only for a prescribed amount of time. Consulting with legal counsel about the status of your claim in a timely manner is critical.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault—whether it occurred recently or many years in your past—you may want to consult an attorney immediately. The changing scope of statutes of limitation make legal counsel necessary. The experienced sexual assault attorneys at Neumann Law Group are ready to assist you with a free consultation and evaluation of your claim. Any discussion you have with our firm will be treated with respect, and kept confidential again any disclosure.

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