Educators in West Palm Beach’s schools are obligated to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their students. Unfortunately, some schools fail in this duty by allowing sexual abuse from students or staff members to occur on their grounds, which could warrant a lawsuit.
An experienced attorney may be able to help if you or your child suffered sexual abuse while attending a West Palm Beach school. Once retained, a compassionate sexual abuse lawyer can help you understand the obligations of schools and explore your legal options for seeking financial restitution.
Examples of Sexual Abuse in Schools
Parents place great trust in teachers, administrators, and staff at both public and private schools to provide a safe environment for their children. Florida state law affirms that these schools have a legal duty not only to provide an education, but also to protect children from foreseeable harm, such as sexual abuse.
Students can be victimized by their peers as well as adults who are in a position of power. Unfortunately, there are documented cases of teachers, coaches, maintenance staff, administrators, and counselors performing acts of sexual abuse against students.
Parents of children who have been allegedly sexually abused should contact the police immediately. Additionally, adults who believe they endured childhood sexual abuse in a West Palm Beach school should also contact law enforcement, as criminal charges may still follow events that took place many years ago.
Pursuing Justice Against Abusers
State law defines various causes of action that allow a victim of abuse to pursue compensation in civil court. Furthermore, sexual abuse can also fall under Florida’s definition of criminal assault, since a perpetrator of sexual abuse may intentionally inflict physical and emotional distress on their victim.
Accordingly, those who commit these acts could face both criminal and civil liability. However, the school itself may also be responsible for instances of abuse that affect their students, as plaintiffs could cite theories of negligent hiring or inadequate security that may have contributed to or facilitated instances of abuse.
Finally, potential plaintiffs must be aware of West Palm Beach’s statute of limitations. Plaintiffs in cases involving an intentional attack typically have only four years following the incident to pursue a case, but Florida Statutes §95.11(7) allows special provisions to plaintiffs who suffer sexual abuse while under the age of 16.
In addition, Fla. Stat. §95.11(9) provides that there is no statute of limitations for sexual battery that occurred when the victim was under the age of 16. For this reason, many adults who are suffering from effects of sexual abuse that happened in school could now bring lawsuits with the help of a skilled attorney.
Sexual Abuse in West Palm Beach Schools Could Have Serious Long-Term Effects
The physical and emotional impacts of sexual abuse that occurs in schools can be long-lasting. Symptoms of these attacks can range from chronic pain and sexual repression to anxiety and PTSD. While the perpetrators of these attacks could certainly be held liable themselves, the law also grants victims and their families the right to hold the schools that allow these attacks responsible as well.
If you or your child suffered sexual abuse in a West Palm Beach school, you may have the right to pursue compensation in a case that alleges assault, the intentional infliction of emotional distress, or even negligent hiring practices. If the abuse happened while you were a child, you may still be able to pursue a case today, so contact a qualified attorney to learn more about your legal options.