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A number of high profile cases of sexual assault have come to light in recent years, where doctors, coaches and others individuals in positions of authority have used their power and influence to sexually assault or abuse women or young children. These cases can result in mental and physical trauma, transmission of disease and lasting mistrust in once-respected institutions.
LAWSUITS OVER SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE: Lawyers review potential cases for victims of sexual assault, inappropriate touching and other troubling behavior, to determine whether financial compensation may be available. Sexual abuse lawsuits serve an important role in changing the culture at schools, hospitals and other large institutions, which have allowed these cases to persist for years.
Sexual assault is defined as an act where a person engages in sexual behavior or sexual contact with another person against their consent. While this often occurs due to physical force, it can also happen when the perpetrator has some position of social power over the victim. In many such cases, the offender may be a teacher, a coach, a doctor, or an employer.
In all of those situations, the sexual assault victim may feel compelled to acquiesce due to the perceived ramifications of not consenting, or fear stepping forward to report the behavior. They could lose their job, a scholarship, or, such as with a trusted medical professional, may not even know that the contact is inappropriate, or may feel that it is inappropriate but do not feel they could prove it. However, through a lawsuit and legal representation, the balance of power can change, providing important protections.
In recent years, a number of high profile sexual assault cases have been uncovered at universities, athletic associations, churches, hospitals and other institutions. The #metoo movement has fueled the disclosure of many of these troubling situations, which were allowed to continue unchecked for years, despite clear signs of problems.
USC Gynecologist – George Tyndall: On May 16, 2018, the University of Southern California sent a letter to its community, announcing that it had filed information with the California Medical Board detailing an investigation into Dr. George Tyndall. However, evidence suggests that USC allowed the student health center gynecologist to continue treating patients for decades after first suspecting he was engaging in inappropriate behavior.
Students stepped forward with claims of inappropriate touching, sexual and racially insensitive remarks, and indications that Dr. Tyndall took inappropriate photographs of patients’ genitals.
In October 2018, the university announced a settlement agreement to compensat Tyndall’s victims with anywhere from $2,500 to $250,000 each.
Michigan State University – Larry Nassar: In February 2018, Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 125 years for sexually assaulting young Olympic athletes and gymnists while he was an associate professor and doctor at Michigan State University.
During the sentencing phase of the case it was clear that Nassar was able to continue the abusive and inappropriate medical exams for decades, despite signs that should have allowed those in a position of authority to stop the assaults. By some estimates, Nassar sexually assaulted more than 300 young girls.
On May 17, 2018, Michigan State University agreed to pay a $500 million sexual assault settlement to resolve lawsuits brought by 332 victims, which includes $75 million to address any future claimants of sexual abuse by Nassar who have yet to come forward.
Johns Hopkins Hospital – Gynecologist Nikita Levy: In 2013, Johns Hopkins gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy took his own life just days after being confronted with allegations that he illegally photographed and videotaped patients for years while working at the East Baltimore Medical Center.
Following litigation against the hospital system, a $190 million settlement was reached to compensate thousands of former patients.
Catholic Church Sex Abuse Allegations: Following a grand jury report in Philadelphia in the summer of 2018, renewed attention was turned to complaints of sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Since the report, a number of dioceses and Roman Catholic organizations nationwide have released lists of priests accused of child sex abuse dating back decades.
SEXUAL ASSAULT LAWYERS: Many states have long statute of limitations on sexual assault and abuse cases, allowing victims to come forward many years after the incidence, particularly if they were a minor at the time. Lawyers provide confidential consultations and free case evaluations to help determine what legal rights may be available for victims of sexual abuse or inappropriate assault.