There is probably no greater taboo in America than the sexual abuse of a child. Yet, we see in the news an apparently endless stream of stories involving adults who betrayed the community’s trust and preyed upon the children in their charge. These stories involve teachers, principals, coaches, pastors, youth ministers, camp counselors and others who pretended concern, but acted for sick gratification. The cost to abused children is dear; studies show that victims of sexual abuse may develop low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and a distorted view of sexual relations. Children may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and even suicidal.
At Lanier Law Group, P.A., we fight for justice for injured youth in Raleigh, Wilmington, Durham, Greensboro, Asheville, Burlington, Fayetteville, Greenville, Winston-Salem, Jamestown and Charlotte. For the victims, holding their abuser accountable may be an empowering and liberating experience. Taking action may also deter pedophiles from claiming additional victims and force institutions to reform their hiring and supervision practices.
Our justice system provides remedies in criminal and civil court. The goal of criminal court is to punish a wrongdoer, while the goal of civil court is to compensate the victim. If your child has been the victim of an abuser, you should demand a criminal investigation. A conviction would be vindication for your child’s suffering and may also help the possible civil case against the abuser or the institution that allowed the abuse to happen.
In a civil action for child abuse, a victim may be able to sue for the physical and emotional harm the victim suffered and may continue to suffer. A victim may include as an economic loss the projected costs for psychological therapy over the course of a lifetime. Unlike a criminal prosecution that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a civil lawsuit only requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence; meaning, that it was more likely than not that the child was abused. Because of the tender age of the victim and the terrible, haunting consequences of abuse, jury awards tend to be very generous.
However, the unfortunate reality of child abuse cases is that the perpetrators usually don’t have sufficient assets to cover damage awards. Accused child molesters can easily spend every cent they possess fighting criminal charges before a civil lawsuit even begins. A perpetrator’s insurance does not cover liability, since the abuse of a child is a deliberate act. How, then, can a victim recover?
Institutions that offer services to minors are held to a high standard in the hiring and supervision of employees. Schools, churches, day-care facilities, boys and girls clubs, camps, sports programs, dance studios, bands and orchestras that cater to youth must perform background checks, implement protocols to prevent abuse, and investigate actions by adult employees and volunteers that raise the least suspicion. When organizations fail to take reasonable care to protect the children in their care, they may be liable for a dereliction of their duty. Organizations carry liability insurance that covers their negligence, so they are often able to pay damage awards. However, their insurance companies are highly motivated to defend against negligence claims, and the victim’s attorney must prove that the organization was negligent in addition to proving the abuse occurred. These complexities are exactly why you may need to hire a heavyweight to manage your case.
Lanier Law Group, P.A. fights aggressively on behalf of children abused by sexual predators. To learn how our experienced attorneys may be able to pursue justice for your child, schedule a free consultation. Call us in Raleigh, Wilmington, Durham, Greensboro, Asheville, Burlington, Fayetteville, Greenville, Winston-Salem, Jamestown or Charlotte at 855-234-7619 or contact us online.
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