Sexual Assault in a School

Sexual abuse or harassment can be difficult to discuss for anyone, and talking about these criminal acts can be especially difficult for a child who has been a victim of this abuse. With so much of a child’s life revolving around school, sports, and other school-related extracurriculars, abuse from a trusted child care professional or teacher could be difficult to discover.

Although school personnel has a duty to protect students from abuse on—and sometimes off—campus, that does not always ensure the safety of all students. With boarding schools, after-school programs, and sporting events being vital parts of a typical education environment, there is an opportunity for children to be exposed to abuse from trusted teachers, coaches, or other students.
If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual assault in a school as a child, it could be essential for you to to understand the legal steps now at your disposal. Seasoned sexual assault attorneys understand how difficult it can be to relive past abuses—whether they were suffered by you or by someone you know—and could help assess your situation and give you the assistance you could need in compiling a case against your abuser if you wish to pursue legal action.

First Steps for a Sexual Assault Claim

The new Child Victims Act recently extended the statute of limitations in the state of New York to allow individuals who suffered sexual abuse or harassment as children to press charges later than previously allowed—until they are 55 years of age now, instead of 23. This extension has opened the door for more victims of sexual abuse to pursue legal actions against their abusers and the institutions that employ them.

Although abuse could have occurred decades in the past, gathering the available evidence as well as establishing a timeline of the abuse could help a plaintiff’s legal counsel build a strong case against their abuser. It is also important to understand the support network available to sexual abuse victims. There are countless hotlines, community outlets, and national organizations like RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) available if someone who experienced trauma wishes to talk to someone other than a friend or family member about it.

With several pathways of legal action at their disposal, it is often wise for potential plaintiffs to discuss with a lawyer how they wish to proceed and what they are comfortable with doing, whether they are thinking about pressing charges or merely want to understand their situation. Lawyers experienced in dealing with sexual assault cases could help approach this difficult and sometimes overwhelming legal battle as proactively as possible.

How Abuse Occurs in a School

Educational institutions have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for every child and report the possibility of abuse of a child. Despite legal barriers such as Title IX and similar legislation, though, cases of sexual abuse can remain hidden for years. Whether a public, private, or intermediate institution, the ingrained idea that a child should completely trust a coach, teacher, or person in the position of authority creates environments that unfortunately facilitates abuse of children for those looking to do so.

Sexual abuse of a child is often more likely to occur in a place where the risk of being detected is low. As such, there can be a variety of locations where sexual abuse occurs within an educational context, and not always on school grounds. The following are a few examples of the possible in which settings sexual abuse can occur:

  • After school programs
  • Sports teams
  • Service organizations
  • Competitive teams
  • Performing arts programs
  • Band or chorus programs

Contact a Lawyer Today

Seasoned sexual assault attorneys acknowledge the difficulties of discussing previous sexual assault in a school. Compassionate lawyers and legal advisers could not only serve as your legal counsel—but they can also be a crucial resource and companion during this stressful time.

An experienced sexual assault attorney could help you understand your legal options and plan the best path forward in your case against a school institution or employee. Whether the abuse occurred recently or if the Child Victims Act extended the statute of limitations for abuse that happened years ago, contacting an attorney could be the easiest part of this process. Call today to start exploring your legal options.

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Goldstein & Bashner

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