Sex Assault & Abuse Lawyers
Teacher & School Abuse Lawyers
Representation by a Former Sex Crimes Unit Prosecutor
As a former sex crimes unit prosecutor, Brian Kent is passionate about justice for all victims of abuse. Prior to entering the civil arena, he served the community as an Assistant District Attorney prosecuting sex offenders. This gives him a unique perspective on civil liability in abuse cases. He knows how to conduct the civil case while the criminal case may be pending, in order to maximize a victim’s chance of financial recovery.
Justice in School Sex Abuse & Assault Cases
Students are often groomed and abused by predators who make their way into schools, daycare centers and other youth organizations. Oftentimes, victims can seek justice in both the criminal and civil justice systems. This is something that most victims simply don’t know. If you’ve been the victim of sexual assault or abuse, you may be able to get justice in both the criminal and civil courts. Watch a YouTube video of an interview with a former client of the firm. The client filed a civil molestation lawsuit against a state court judge and won.
In the criminal justice system, a criminal perpetrator can be punished and sentenced to jail or prison for sexual abuse or assault. The victim participates in the criminal justice system as a witness, providing sufficient evidence to convict the perpetrator. The goal of a criminal case is a conviction. Therefore, in a criminal school sexual abuse case, the perpetrator (teacher, aide, principal, coach, etc.), can be charged with a crime. If there is a conviction, the perpetrator will be sentenced according to the law.
In the civil justice system, multiple parties can be punished and ordered to pay financial restitution (monetary compensation) to the victim. One of the key differences between the criminal and civil justice system is that in the civil system, direct perpetrators and indirect perpetrators can be held accountable. Direct perpetrators are individuals who commit the acts of abuse or assault. Indirect perpetrators are individuals, businesses and other entities which either hid the abuse or otherwise failed to stop it from occurring.
Victims of abuse in school settings or daycare centers are entitled to make claims for compensation against not only the criminal defendant, but any entity, business, corporation, etc., which caused or contributed to the crime and injury, such as:
- school districts,
- daycare centers,
- coaches, and
- camp programs.
The end result of a civil case varies, but usually includes financial compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. In addition, other terms may be negotiated. For instance, a given settlement may include a written apology or changes to a school’s abuse reporting procedures.
In theory, the criminal justice system is supposed to provide some restitution to crime victims. However, too few victims of physical and sexual abuse are provided with monetary compensation for the deeply personal injuries they have sustained – mentally, emotionally and physically. The victim injury lawyers at Laffey, Bucci & Kent want to change that.
Results by Our Sex Assault Lawyers
- Child molestation case against sitting state court judge who admitted to the abuse, resigned from the bench and was then disbarred. (6 figure recovery and written admission)
- Student sexually harassed and assaulted by high school teacher (6 figure recovery)
- Student sued former all girls religious school in Pennsylvania after a high school teacher sexually molested her and school administrators failed to act (6 figure recovery)
Sexual and physical abuse in schools or daycare centers occurs with alarming frequency in this country. Last year, over 400 school employees were arrested for sexual misconduct with students; 20 or so just in Pennsylvania. It’s such a widespread problem that state and federal legislators have tried to pass laws tightening abuse reporting requirements and making background checks more effective. Read about a recent attempt to streamline background check requirements for school employees.
Reporting sexual abuse is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Shame, guilt, fear of retribution, anxiety, depression – all these emotions make it difficult for victims to report the crimes. This is especially true for students who are abused by a person in a position of authority, such as a teacher, coach or principal. Oftentimes, students keep silent precisely because of the unique dynamic of school sex abuse. However, with the recent media attention surrounding abuse in schools, more victims may find the courage to step forward and seek justice.
Abuse in Daycare or Childcare Facilities
Small children who are sexually or physically abused are often unable to even communicate the abuse. Parents with children in daycare centers and childcare facilities must entrust their children to others. Unfortunately, the main way for parents to discover daycare abuse of young children is to look for signs of abuse, such as changes in personality, sudden onset of unusual behaviors, unusual marks, bruising, etc.
Abuse & Harassment by Students (Hazing, Bullying, Etc.)
Abuse (sexual, physical, etc.) in school settings may also be perpetrated by fellow students. One of the most common forms of student-on-student violence is hazing. Hazing can occur in any school setting, but is more common in high school and college. Student organizations like fraternities or sororities may engage in hazing rituals which result in serious injury or even death. Alcohol often plays a role in hazing injuries.
Victims of hazing often have criminal and civil legal rights. Students who committed the acts may be held liable in both criminal and civil courts. In addition, schools may also be held liable.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey Laws in School Abuse & Daycare Abuse Cases
The laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey clearly provide for liability in child molestation, school abuse, teacher abuse, and bullying cases. In many situations, parties other than the perpetrator are legally liable for the abuse. Any person or business acting through its employees, who failed to report or prevent the abuse after suspecting the abuse or who actively concealed the abuse, is a potential defendant.
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, laws and court cases establish the standard of care and liability for any of the following actions or inactions:
- failing to conduct reasonable background checks on employees,
- failing to conduct a reasonable investigation,
- hiding or concealing the abuse,
- failing to report the abuse,
- failing to prevent the abuse,
- failing to protect the victim/student,
- failing to intervene,
- failing to train employees on the policies regarding mandatory reporting of abuse,
- failing to have a policy in place regarding mandatory reporting of abuse,
- negligent supervision of children,
- negligent supervision of employees, and
- negligent security resulting in access by criminals.
Legal Help for Abuse Victims in School Settings
At the Philadelphia crime victim injury law firm of Laffey, Bucci & Kent, our experienced attorneys are committed to providing quality representation and individual attention to their clients and their clients’ families. The personal injury attorneys at Laffey, Bucci & Kent have extensive experience handling crime victim injury matters in the civil courts. Their knowledge and expertise in dealing with defense counsel as well as insurance company representatives and adjusters can be invaluable when seeking justice in a personal injury/crime victim’s justice matter.
Of particular note is the criminal expertise of named partner Brian Kent, who worked as an Assistant District Attorney for many years in Montgomery County, prosecuting sex crimes cases. Mr. Kent brings with him not only his expertise in criminal law, but also an awareness of the harms suffered by crime victims and their families, and a true passion for helping them find justice today, in the civil courtroom.
If you or a loved one experienced sexual or physical abuse in a school/daycare in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey or New York, contact our experienced, highly rated crime victim injury lawyers for a free, confidential consultation. 215.399.9255/800.220.7600
Last reviewed and updated: April 26, 2017