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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 provide free consultations and case evaluation to help individuals determine whether they may be able to pursue legal action for sexual assault, inappropriate touching and other troubling behavior.
Through a sexual abuse lawsuit individuals are not only able to secure financial compensation from responsible organizations, but the legal action also plays an important role in changing the culture that has been allowed to persist for years at churches, schools, hospitals and other large institutions.
OVERVIEW: 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 incidents of widespread sexual assault cases have been uncovered at churches, universities, athletic associations, hospitals and other institutions. The #metoo movement and a recent grand jury report on abuses in the Catholic Church have fueled the disclosure of many of these troubling situations, which were allowed to continue unchecked for years, despite clear signs of problems.
Catholic Church Clergy Abuse: Information uncovered in recent years has highlighted widespread sexual abuse among the Catholic church and other religious groups.
While information about these problems has been known for years, attention to the Church sex abuse scandals in recent years has highlighted the coverup and steps the organizations have taken to prevent victims from making claims.
In August 2018, a grand jury report identified at least 90 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse in the Pittsburgh area, outlining credible allegations and cover-ups that spanned decades.
That report indicated the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania covered up abuse involving priests who abused more than 1,000 victims, mostly children, over the course of 70 years. After 90 of those priests were identified, it sparked investigations by the Justice Department and states’ attorneys general nationwide. Since then, numerous dioceses have released lists of priests suspected of child sex abuse or sexual abuse of vulnerable adults.
In late March 2019, the Pope decreed that Vatican officials had to report any incidents of sexual assault to law enforcement immediately. While it cannot be enforced worldwide, the decree is considered guidance for how other dioceses world wide should behave.
Boy Scouts Of America: In April 2019, a deposition in an unrelated lawsuit indicated that more than 7,800 Boy Scout troop leaders and volunteers assaulted more than 12,000 children over the past 70 decades. That data has been allegedly kept out of public view for years by the Boy Scouts in what it reportedly calls the “perversion files.”
The Boy Scouts confirmed the existence of the files, indicating that they were used to ensure the group never knowingly allowed a sexual predator access to youths in its organization.
Teacher or Coach Sexual Abuse: Recent years have seen a number of high profile child sexual assault cases, primarily in Olympic sports, including gymnastics, swimming, and, more recently, figure skating, in all of these cases, coaches and teachers in authority positions over minors who, in some cases, controlled their very futures, leveraged those positions for sexual assess, often scarring those children for life.
Doctors and Therapists: Healthcare professionals are trusted with intimate access and knowledge of their patients, and most people trust them by default. However, some betray that trust and, in cases in recent years, have used positions in gynecology, or as medical advisors to young athletes, to abuse their posts, often going years or even decades before being caught. Some of the more infamous cases in the last few years include:
- 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. Hundreds of university sex abuse lawsuits were filed by former students, resulting in settlements between $2500 and $250,000 for each victim.
- 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, and Michigan State University agreed to pay a $500 million sexual assault settlement to resolve lawsuits brought by 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.
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.