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Recovery for Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can have a significant, long-lasting and deleterious impact on the lives of those who have suffered the abuse. Victims of sexual abuse can file civil lawsuits to receive monetary damages for physical pain, suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, medical and psychiatric expenses, and, in certain cases, punitive damages. Sexual abuse can be perpetrated by a stranger, family member, doctor at a medical facility, priest, teacher at a school or university, or coach within a recreational organization. In many cases, victims of sexual abuse may also seek criminal prosecution of their perpetrators. It is important to know that sexual assault victims can recover damages in a civil lawsuit even if the perpetrator is not charged or convicted criminally.

Who Can Be Sued for Sexual Assault?

Although the individual who committed the assault is the most obvious defendant in a civil action, the perpetrator is not the only party who may be liable. Many of the sexual assault cases that have dominated the news in the past few years involve perpetrators who were employed by, or under the supervision of, institutions. Hospitals, churches, universities, the Boy Scouts of America, and other intuitions have a duty to exercise diligence in their hiring procedures, tp properly supervise their employees, staff and volunteers, and to take timely corrective action to report and respond to any claims of sexual abuse. Failure to properly supervise and take corrective action can serve as the basis for liability in many instances.

Monetary Damages in Sexual Abuse Cases

Sexual abuse covers a range of behaviors. As such, civil recoveries depend upon a number of factors, including the severity of the conduct and the impact of the abuse on the survivor. In the case of Larry Nassar, the head athletic doctor accused of sexually abusing hundreds of young women at Michigan State University (MSU), a $500 million settlement with MSU was reached. It is the largest known settlement for claims of sexual abuse at a university. Under the terms of the settlement, $425 million will be allocated among 330 claimants and the remaining $75 million will be reserved for victims who come forward after December 6, 2017. A non-profit group that tracks sexual abuse by the clergy reported that the Catholic Church has paid out nearly $4 billion in sexual abuse lawsuits going back to the 1980s. According to the group, the largest known payout amounted to over $600 million dollars in 2007 on behalf of 221 clergy for victimizing over 500 young adults and children. The Boy Scouts of America has settled dozens of lawsuits after it was revealed that the organization kept files on scout masters who were accused of sexual abuse, which was not disclosed to parents or authorities. In 2010, a jury in Oregon awarded $18.5 million damages to a victim, the largest punitive damage award against the organization at that time. Since then, stunning new details have emerged revealing that the scope of abuse by scout leaders was considerably larger than the original files had indicated, thereby paving the way for substantial future awards for victims.

Attention: New York and New Jersey Law Provides Additional Time for Sexual Abuse Survivors to Bring Action


Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has handled all types of negligence cases for more than three decades. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual abuse, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry.

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