School Related Sexual Abuse
We expect our schools and universities to protect our children and be safe places fostering education and growth under the care of trained, qualified professionals. School should be a happy place where children can develop friendships and acquire knowledge. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Child sexual abuse is alarmingly common. Whether occurring at the hands of a grade-school or high-school teacher, a coach, or from a college professor, someone in authority sexually assaulting a vulnerable young person is particularly egregious conduct. When someone exercises their power in order to either obtain sexual gratification or to intimidate someone into not reporting an assault, he or she is not only exerting individual will, the entire weight and authority of the institution imbuing the bad actor with power is brought upon the victim.
The person committing the assault is clearly responsible for the injury sustained by a survivor of a sexual assault. However, that person may not have any meaningful assets with which to pay the survivor compensation for the injuries he or she caused. Moreover, the institution involved may also be responsible, but the extent to which an institution is responsible depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.
An institution can be responsible for failing to adequately investigate the bad actor before hiring or otherwise bringing them into the organization. Where the individual had a record of engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct in the past, but the institution does not investigate that record, it can be liable. Similarly, where the institution is aware of the history and hires nonetheless, liability can attach.
Other ways that the institution can be responsible for injuries caused by a sexual assault revolve around failures to take appropriate action when concerns are brought to its attention. This can range from failing to follow-up on a number of concerns of a less concerning nature, all the way to actively hiding serious misconduct. An institution can be found liable to different degrees, depending on the egregiousness of the failure.
In sum, if a teacher, coach, or any other person given access to children through an educational institution engages in sexually assaultive behavior, both the bad actor and the institution may be responsible, and therefore, obligated to compensate the injured party for his or her injuries. If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted in the course of their educational endeavors, contact the experienced lawyers at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation.