School Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
Fighting for Survivors of Student Sexual Abuse
If you or your child were sexually abused in a school setting, you may have grounds to pursue legal action and financial compensation for your damages.
Every year, we are inundated by reports of arrests, investigations, and civil suits involving students who were sexually abused by teachers and staff at educational institutions across the country. In many of these cases, the record shows that administrators, school districts, and other entities with oversight responsibilities failed in various ways to adequately protect the victims.
At Levy Konigsberg, our award-winning trial lawyers have earned national recognition litigating high stakes sexual abuse lawsuits. We’ve helped survivors throughout the nation take on public and private school systems, colleges and universities, and other powerful institutions, and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for clients. If you have a potential case, we want to help.
Have questions about filing a civil lawsuit over sexual abuse in a private or public school? Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.
Nationwide Representation for School Sex Abuse Survivors
Levy Konigsberg is a nationwide trial practice with a legacy of representing sexual abuse survivors in civil lawsuits against powerful institutions.
In addition to representing families in civil actions involving sexual abuse at public and private k-12 schools, our firm also represents student survivors in claims involving other types of educational and youth programs, such as:
- Daycares and preschools
- Colleges and universities
- Juvenile detention centers
- Youth sports programs
- Summer / day camps
- Catholic schools
- Boy Scouts
Sexual Abuse in Elementary & Secondary Schools
The problem of staff-on-student sexual abuse has been documented through decades of high-profile investigations, civil lawsuits, and criminal indictments.
In one of the most sweeping investigations to date, the U.S. Department of Education found that the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools saw a more than 50% increase in reports of sexual violence during the 2017-2018 school year.
Specifically, the DOE report found that schools reported 15,000 total incidents of sexual violence during the period under review, a 55% increase from the number of incidents in 2015-2016. Most incidents (14,100) were classified as sexual assault, while more than 780 involved rape or attempted rape.
While experts suspect some of the increase can be attributed to better reporting, the DOE investigation confirms that sexual abuse within U.S. schools continues to be a pervasive problem. Even today, notable recent cases confirm that administrators and districts are failing to protect students. Just a few examples include:
- In New Jersey, the Pingry School made headlines when it paid settlements to dozens of survivors who were sexually abused in past decades by a former faculty member. In a 2020 case, a Sussex County school district agreed to pay $980,000 to a former Hopatcong Middle School student who was sexually assaulted by her teacher.
- In California, a Riverside jury in October 2023 returned a $135 million verdict in favor of two former students who were repeatedly sexually abused by a middle school teacher in the mid-1990s after findings that the Moreno Valley Unified School District was negligent. Just a month prior, the Redlands Unified School District in Southern California paid $2.25 million to settle a lawsuit involving a high school teacher who became pregnant by one of at least two students she was accused of sexually abusing.
- In New York, the Cheektowaga Maryvale Union Free School District announced in September 2023 that it paid $8.5 million to settlement five lawsuits brough by students who were sexually abused by a music teacher in the 1970s and 1980s. In June 2022, the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District paid $17.5 million to settle sexual abuse suits brought by 35 former students.
- In Maryland, a sweeping investigation into Maryland school sexual abuse at the Key School in Annapolis found that the private school fostered a “toxic culture” in which nearly a dozen teachers and staff abused students in the 1970s. Most recently, two former teachers, one from Northeast High School in Pasadena and another from the Gilman School in Roland Park, were arrested in charged in early 2023 over allegations that they sexually abused multiple students.
Liability in School Sex Abuse Lawsuits
School sexual abuse lawsuits are claims brought in civil court that seek justice, accountability, and financial compensation for the damages endured by survivors. They may involve abuse committed by teachers, coaches, administrators, or other school employees and victims of any age.
Here are some important facts about civil sex abuse lawsuits against schools:
- Defendants: School sexual abuse lawsuits may name multiple parties as defendants. This includes not only the alleged wrongdoer (such as a teacher or coach) but also parties which bear responsibility for staff, such as school administrators, public school districts, and private or religious-affiliated institutions.
- Fault and Liability: Sexual abuse lawsuits focus on who is at fault for a victim’s damages. As matters handled in civil court, they are separate from any criminal proceedings against a wrongdoer. And because civil cases use a lower burden of proof than that used in criminal cases, the outcome of any criminal case does not determine the outcome of a civil case; defendants can still be held liable in civil suits even if they are found not guilty (or even never charged) in criminal court.
- Negligence and Failures: Plaintiffs in sex abuse lawsuits must prove that defendants were negligent or otherwise failed to uphold the legal obligations they owed students. This may include failing to properly screen teachers, coaches, or staff prior to hiring, negligent supervision of employees and students, and failures to appropriately handle complaints, conduct investigations, notify law enforcement, or follow school policies. In some cases, it may involve the willful concealment and coverup of abuse.
- Compensation: When a sexual abuse lawsuit is successfully settled or litigated, survivors will be entitled to financial compensation for the economic and non-economic damages caused by their abuse. This can include the costs of therapy and mental health care, lost income and earnings, and pain and suffering.
Groundbreaking Laws Give Student Sex Abuse Survivors New Opportunities for Justice
In recent years, states across the country have worked to pass laws that make it easier for childhood sexual abuse survivors to step forward and seek the compensation they deserve.
These groundbreaking laws are based on widely accepted research into the difficulties sex abuse survivors face when it comes to processing their abuse and the various legal barriers modern state laws have created for survivors who wish to pursue justice in the civil legal system.
Today, laws passed in a growing number of states are giving unprecedented opportunities for child sexual abuse survivors. Many of these laws involve the extension of the statute of limitations, which gives survivors years or decades more time to file their claims, and some have eliminated the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits entirely. Several states have also included retroactive components in these laws that allow survivors with previously time-barred claims to step forward.
Some examples include:
- New Jersey. Under recently revised New Jersey laws, survivors of child sexual abuse have until the age of 55 to file claims against abusers and responsible institutions.
- Arkansas. Under Arkansas’ recently passed Justice for Vulnerable Victims of Sexual Abuse Act, survivors who were sexually abused as minors can file civil suits against abusers and institutions until age 55 or within three years from the date of discovery. The Act also created a temporary two-year revival window that gives survivors abused at any time in the past the right to file a civil lawsuit. This window opened on February 1, 2022, and closes on January 31, 2024.
- Maryland. Maryland’s Child Victims Act of 2023, which went into effect on October 1, 2023, eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits based on child sexual abuse and created an unlimited lookback period that allows child sex abuse survivors to file lawsuits over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.
- Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, lawmakers are currently reviewing pending legislation that, if passed as expected, would extend the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits to age 55 and created a temporary two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.
For survivors who were sexually abused at schools, these and other similar laws provide an unprecedented opportunity to seek justice and hold school systems and administrators accountable for their failures.
At Levy Konigsberg, our firm has extensive experience bringing claims under newly expanded statutes of limitations and lookback windows and is actively reviewing and preparing claims from survivors in states where survivor-friendly legislation is currently pending. We can evaluate the statute of limitations in your case during a confidential consultation.
Do I Have a Case?
You may have grounds to file a civil legal action if:
- You or your minor child were sexually abused by a teacher or school employee.
- The abuse occurred at any public or private educational program at any time in the past.
Levy Konigsberg represents survivors in civil lawsuits that aim to hold schools accountable for their failures to stop abusive staff members and protect students.
As civil claims, these cases are separate from any criminal proceedings that may arise from abuse and focus instead on holding institutions liable for damages. This means you may still have a claim even if:
- Your abuser is no longer alive.
- Your abuser was never charged or convicted of a crime.
Call For a FREE Consultation: (800) 315-3806
Levy Konigsberg has recovered more than $3 billion in compensation for clients, including millions in compensation for survivors of sexual abuse. We’re passionate about helping survivors seek justice and provide the firepower they need to fight back against powerful institutions.
If you have questions about pursuing a lawsuit over sexual abuse that occurred in any type of school setting, we want to help. We serve survivors nationwide and work on contingency, which means there’s no cost to hire and no fee unless we win.
Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.
Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.
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