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Lanier Law Group Secures $12.5M for Victims of Arts School Sex Abuse

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University of North Carolina School of Arts

Lanier Law Group Secures $12.5M Settlement for Victims of Arts School Sex Abuse

Lanier Law Group is proud to announce that we recently secured a $12.5 million settlement for students who were abused by faculty members at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA).

As reported by The New York Times, our firm and co-counsel represented 65 former students who alleged that they had suffered sexual, physical, and emotional abuse at the hands of teachers and administrators at UNCSA in Winston-Salem.

The 236-page complaint, which we initially filed in late 2021, chronicled an alarming history of abuse and oversight dating back to the late 1960s. This abuse was perpetrated by dozens of teachers and administrators, some of whom were among most respected figures in the dance and performing arts world, and spanned the spectrum of unspeakable conduct – from assaults in classrooms, off-campus homes, motel rooms, and tour buses to alcohol-fueled parties where students as young as 14 were told to disrobe and perform ballet moves.

Justice Made Possible by North Carolina Sex Abuse Lookback Law

This settlement is a profound victory for our clients, all of whom must be commended for their courage in stepping forward to share their stories and seek justice.

Thanks to their bravery, we have been able to chronicle a history of systemic abuse that shows how a culture of concealment, permissiveness, and oversight can have devastating consequences, and which will serve as an example to other schools and institutions that have legal obligations to investigate allegations of abuse and keep students safe.

This result was also rewarding for the reason that is was made possible by the Sexual Assault Fast reporting and Enforcement Act (SAFE Child Act), an historic North Carolina law that extended the statute of limitations for civil child sexual abuse lawsuits and created a temporary two-year lookback window in 2020 and 2021 that allowed child sex abuse victims to step forward with claims over abuse that occurred years and decades ago.

Most SAFE Child Act cases have been awaiting the outcome of a constitutional challenge that is now in the hands of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Lanier Law Group is leading that battle with a pivotal case currently before the Court. Because the SAFE Child Act has is under fire from institutions and entities allowed child sex abuse to take place, being able to secure this settlement in spite of the legal challenges and uncertainty, as Lanier Law Group President and CEO Lisa Lanier told The New York Times, made it a particularly satisfying outcome for our clients, especially considering the fact that other cases filed by our firm under the Act have encountered hold ups in court.

Lisa went on to tell the Times that our firm will soon begin working with a professional allocator to divide the funds among the victims.

You can read the full article from The New York Times featuring quotes from Ms. Lanier here.

Additional Stories:

Settlement Concludes Student Sexual Abuse Lawsuit - North Carolina Lawyers Weekly 

UNC School Of The Arts Settles Lawsuit, Acknowledging Decades of Sexual Abuse - Raleigh News & Observer

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