Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
At Levy Konigsberg, we are committed to seeking justice for those who have experienced sexual abuse, either as children or as adults. As much as individual abusers, the institutions that conceal the actions of perpetrators and protect them from criminal and civil punishment can be held accountable for failing to safeguard the health and safety of victims. With the recent passage of legislation that extends the statute of limitations and provides a “look-back period” for victims of child sexual abuse, survivors abused have an unprecedented opportunity to seek redress for their injuries. If you have been harmed by any of the following institutions, please let us help you pursue compensation for your injuries.
Class action lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct by doctors have been filed against hospitals, universities and medical programs across the United States. Some of the most high-profile cases of sexual abuse involve large-scale, egregious conduct over many years despite institutional knowledge of the abuser’s behavior. These include George Tyndall, a gynecologist at the University of Southern California, who sexually abused patients for thirty years under the guise of medical necessity. Former wrestlers from the Ohio State University allege that team physician, Richard Strauss, sexually abused hundreds of boys during the 1980s and 1990s. Victims of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, the head athletic doctor at Michigan State University (MSU), recently reached a $500 million settlement related to claims that he sexually abused hundreds of gymnasts and athletes formerly under his care.
Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Reginald Archibald sexually abused thousands of children during his four decades of work at Rockefeller University Hospital in New York. The hospital had knowledge and was aware of credible claims of sexual misconduct concerning Dr. Archibald since 1960, and after multiple investigations, took no action. The hospital failed to protect its most vulnerable patients. A class action lawsuit was filed after the hospital mailed over 1,000 letters to former patients of the now deceased Dr. Archibald. The hospital re-victimized patients who were sexually abused, and the recipients suffered significant emotional distress and were subjected to a gross invasion of privacy. As a result of the Child Victims Act in New York, hundreds, if not thousands of lawsuits will likely be filed against the hospital for its role in Dr. Archibald’s sexual abuse of thousands of patients at the hospital’s facilities.
Allegations of child sexual abuse against the Catholic Church date back to the 1950s. The scope of abuse is so vast that numbers of perpetrators and victims are difficult to assess. However, according to some reports, the Catholic Church has paid out nearly $4 billion to approximately 9,000 survivors since the 1980s. One on the most shocking aspects of the sexual misconduct by members of the clergy is the extent to which the Church deliberately concealed, covered up, and dismissed allegations of abuse, even going so far as destroying documents that could have been used to prosecute perpetrators and prevent future abuse of other children.
Most incidents of sexual abuse against children are committed by trusted adults, such as teachers. Abuse by school teachers and staff often persists for long periods of time because children are afraid to speak up against their abuser, or feel ashamed, embarrassed, or responsible for the egregious acts of adults they believed to be trustworthy. Schools and universities are entrusted with the care of children and young adults and are responsible for providing a safe and secure environment. An educational institution that negligently hires or supervises its staff, or takes no action upon learning of sexual misconduct, fails to fulfill its duty to its students. Title IX, which prohibits sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape on college campuses may serve as an additional basis for liability of higher educational institutions.
The Boys Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth organizations in the country with almost 110 million Americans participating in its programs. The BSA has been linked to claims of sexual abuse by its members for decades. Recent reports reveal that, from 1944 to 2016, the BSA fostered sexual abuse by 7,819 suspected abusers against a staggering 12,254 child victims. Many of the lawsuits filed by former BSA members allege that BSA officials failed to take reasonable steps to protect scouts from foreseeable dangers of sexual abuse. Scout leaders were often encouraged to resign quietly or were simply moved by the organization to different locations. New laws extending the statute of limitations in many states are expected to result in hundreds of additional lawsuits against the BSA by adults who were sexually abused as children.
Coaches play an instrumental role in the lives of young children in organized sports. The nature of the athlete-coach relationship often places children in situations where they come in frequent close contact with coaches, often while no other adults are present. If a youth sports organization fails to maintain the safety and well-being of athletes, both the coach and the organization may be held liable. In many cases, coaches and teachers with a history of sexual misconduct are quietly removed from their jobs by employers, who fear liability, and go on to accept other positions working with children where new employers are unaware of their history of misconduct. In this way, perpetrators continue to prey on new victims.
Many adults and children who have suffered sexual abuse experience long-lasting and profound psychological, emotional, and physical trauma. While no two victims are the same, most individuals experience stress, fear, anxiety, depression and difficulty conducting daily activities following the assault. Other victims might engage in self-mutilation and substance abuse or attempt suicide. Victims of sexual abuse also report social isolation, strained relationships with family, and risk-taking behaviors. Individuals who have been sexually abused as children may experience additional psychological and emotional problems because children often develop negative self-image and blame themselves for abuse. In many cases, sexually abused children have difficulties that last well into adulthood including difficulty forming relationships and issues with intimacy and trust.
Sexual abuse can have a significant impact on the lives of victims for years or decades after the abuse occurs. Victims of sexual abuse who file civil lawsuits can recover monetary damages for a broad range of damages, including physical and emotional pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical and psychiatric expenses. In some cases, victims may be able to recover punitive damages as well. Liability for sexual assault is not limited to the party who committed the assault: Hospitals, churches, universities, youth groups like the BSA, and other institutions may be found liable for negligence. Civil recoveries can be extensive depending on the nature of the abuse. Recent recoveries against Michigan State University, the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America have been some of the largest amounts in the history of sex abuse cases.
Attention: New York and New Jersey Law Provides Additional Time for Sexual Abuse Survivors to Bring Action
New York is now at the forefront of progressive legislation targeting childhood sexual abuse with the passage of the New York Child Victims Act (CVA). The law extends the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits for sexual abuse. By extending the time period for victims to recover for injuries wrought by sexual abuse, the CVA allows survivors to seek justice and compensation when they are prepared and able to tell their stories. Under the CVA, the statute of limitations for filing criminal charges for sexual abuse is 28 years old and the statute of limitations for filing civil claims for sexual abuse is 55 years old. In addition, anyone under the age of 18 who was abused and precluded from filing a claim has a one-year window to file charges regardless of age.
A new law in New Jersey has been passed to enable victims of sexual abuse to pursue civil lawsuits against their perpetrators for crimes committed years earlier. The legislation gives survivors the opportunity to seek compensation for the abuse they suffered even if the statute of limitations has expired. Under the law, victims who were previously barred by the statute of limitations may now file lawsuits for damages against their abusers and the institutions that concealed the abuse for two years. Victims who do not file actions within the “two-year window” may sue their perpetrators until they turn 55 years of age or within seven years of recognizing that they were injured by sexual abuse. In addition, the New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation (IVC) program was established by New Jersey’s five Catholic dioceses to compensate victims for sexual abuse that occurred in Catholic churches and Catholic schools decades ago.
Many victims of sexual violence do not initially report the abuse because they are embarrassed, ashamed or afraid to reveal that they have been abused. By the time they come forward, survivors may no longer be permitted to file lawsuits because the statute of limitations has expired. Several states, in addition to New York and New Jersey, have passed laws to extend the statute of limitations and allow survivors to seek compensation for their injuries many years after the abuse occurred. In California, the State Assembly unanimously passed Assembly Bill 1619 on September 29, 2018, which extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse survivors from two years to ten years after the last episode of abuse. In Connecticut, survivors have until age the 58 to file a lawsuit for sexual abuse, exploitation, or assault that occurred before the age of 18. In Massachusetts, meanwhile, survivors have until the age of 63 to file suit or, in cases of survivors who did not previously realize they were injured, within 7 years of the date they discovered or reasonably should have discovered their injury. Other states, including North Carolina, are considering legislation that would similarly extend the statute of limitations for sex abuse cases to allow all victims a day in court.
Our lawyers have the experience, resources, and litigation expertise to help sex abuse victims obtain justice and take on the powerful entities that have sheltered abusers. If you or your child have been harmed, please contact us for a free case evaluation by calling 1-800-988-8005 or through the form on this page.