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The Bridgeport personal injury attorneys of Tremont Sheldon P.C.

Did a Doctor or Medical Professional Sexually Abuse You?

Doctors, nurses and other staff many times have unsupervised interaction with patients. Similar to teachers, coaches and clergy, they have a duty to protect the patients who are under their care. Sometimes these medical professionals use their position and access to harm the very individuals who are under their care.

Doctors and other medical professionals who violate the Hippocratic Oath by sexually assaulting patients must be stopped and held responsible. Hospitals and facilities who allow abuse to continue must also be held responsible.

At Tremont Sheldon P.C. in Bridgeport, our attorneys help victims seek compensation. Nothing can undo what was done, but pursuing recovery can help survivors of abuse to close the door on the abuse they experienced so they can move on with their lives.

Abuse Can Happen to Anyone at Any Time

There is no one profile that describes a victim of physician or medical professional abuse. Victims can range in age from infants/toddlers to the elderly. The abuse itself may also be varied. Doctors or nurses may speak to them in sexually inappropriate ways, expose themselves to patients and/or make contact by groping or penetrating a patient.

Challenges to Reporting Abuse

If it happened once, it is likely to happen again. Victims sometimes try to avoid confrontation by reasoning that the abuse only occurred one time or by telling themselves they are likely the only victim. The reality is that abuse is seldom an isolated incident. Abusers typically repeatedly abuse patients.

Patients may be confused about what happened or even embarrassed. Often, patients fear not being believed and may even be intimidated by their abusers if they confront them.

These fears are not entirely unfounded. Medical boards and officials often allow physicians to continue practicing after allegations of abuse arise. Instead of revoking a physician’s license, they suspend it for a period of time or put limited restrictions on practicing. Hospitals and medical clinics do not always report sexual abuse to law enforcement. Instead, they quietly dismiss offending physicians.

It is important that victims of doctor sexual abuse have a strong advocate by their side who can help them.

We Hold Doctors, Nurses and Staff Accountable for Sexual Abuse of Children

One such hospital sexual abuse case was Dr. George Reardon, a physician at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, who sexually abused hundreds of children in the hospital during his growth study examinations. Approximately 60,000 pornographic images of children were found in the wall of his former home. This case is extremely significant not only due to the number of images and victims, but also because of the decision of Connecticut’s Supreme Court.

On July 16, 2013, Connecticut’s highest court released the landmark decision of Tim Doe v. St. Francis Hospital. Tim Doe was sexually abused from 1968 to 1972, as a boy, by Dr. George Reardon, a physician at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. We filed a lawsuit on behalf of Tim, and we tried the case in 2011 to a jury that awarded Tim $2.75 million against the hospital. Tim’s joy was short-lived as the hospital filed an appeal. However, after waiting almost two years, the Supreme Court affirmed Tim’s victory.

This Supreme Court decision is significant not only for Tim but for all people who have been sexually abused. In the decision, the court found that any employer, including a hospital, can be held responsible where one of its employees sexually abuses a child and the employer should have known what was going on. In addition, the court affirmed that when a company, a school, a church or anyone else has custody of a child, it must take steps to protect the child from harm. It is not enough for the employer to say, “I did not know my employee was sexually abusing children.” Steps have to be taken by the employer to protect that child.

Our History Representing Victims of Sexual Abuse

We could not be happier about the decision as it brings added protection to children to prevent them from being sexually abused. Twenty years ago, Tremont Sheldon P.C. became one of the first firms in Connecticut to represent victims of sexual abuse, and since that time, we have represented well over 150 victims. By taking Tim’s case all the way to the Supreme Court and prevailing, we continue to be a leader in the field of representing victims. However, we are also making the world safer for all of our children.

Discuss Your Claim With Us

We understand the concerns of individuals and families about reporting sexual abuse. We are adept at protecting the privacy interests of our clients while holding abusers accountable. Our attorneys are experienced, compassionate and professional when representing our clients. We create an environment where clients can feel safe and confident in our ability to see that justice is done.

Talk to our attorneys about what happened. We’ll tell you how we can help and what we can do to protect you throughout the duration of your case. Call us now at 203-212-9075 or contact us online.

Child Sexual Abuse Frequently Asked Questions

What is the statute of limitations with regard to filing a sexual abuse claim?

Most victims who claim damages for sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual exploitation as a child can file a claim up to 30 years past the age of abuse (typically until the age of 48) in Connecticut. Those who are abused after October 1, 2019 have until they turn 51 years of age to bring a claim.

However, if you claim damages as a result of being sexually assaulted as an adult, then you have a much shorter time period in which to file a lawsuit. Typically, you have three years from the date of the assault to file against the perpetrator for his or her intentional acts and two years from the date of the assault to file against any other person or entity (e.g., perpetrator’s employer) who may have been negligent in allowing the perpetrator to have contact with you.

If there is a criminal case presently pending against the perpetrator, can I still file a civil suit?

Yes. The two cases can proceed at the same time, but there may be reasons to wait, if possible, until the criminal case concludes.

I do not want my identity revealed. Is there a way that I can file a claim and remain anonymous?

You can ask permission from the court to file your case under a pseudonym (e.g., Jane Doe or John Doe). It is up to the judge to grant or deny your request.

Why Choose Us?

Tremont Sheldon P.C. has more than 50 years of experience handling personal injury and abuse cases.  We are specialists in personal injury cases. Why does this matter? Our firm only handles personal injury cases and understands the ins and outs of these cases, and as a result we have a history of proven success against insurance companies, hospitals, schools, churches, and other negligent parties.

How Do You Prove a Molestation Case?

Child sexual abuse can take many forms and be difficult to prove, especially if the physical injuries are no longer present. However, many physicians and behavioral specialists are able to spot the warning signs of sexual abuse in children and can help build a strong case against the abuser. Our lawyers are experienced in working with the right experts to help with your claim.

Can You Sue a Teacher for Sexual Abuse?

Yes. Teachers can be held liable in a civil claim for sexual abuse against minor students. Like with all civil claims for child sexual abuse, it is important to work with an attorney right away to make sure all evidence is collected and documented to help build your case.

What Are My Legal Rights if I Was Sexually Abused as a Child?

Our lawyers represent victims who were sexually abused as children (under the age of 18). The law only allows victims to bring a claim up until the age of 48. Do not wait to learn about your legal options if you were the victim of sexual abuse as a minor.

What is the difference between criminal and civil cases? Is there a different burden of proof?

Many people know that the burden of proof (or evidence needed to prove the case) in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal cases require a very high standard because being found guilty of a crime is at stake as well as the potential to go to jail. In a civil case, no one is accused of a crime and cannot be found guilty. Instead, the question in a civil case is whether a person was negligent and responsible for damages to another. The burden of proof in a civil case is lower (easier to prove) than in a criminal case. The standard to win a case is “more likely than not” that the person was at fault, or proof of just over 50 percent responsible.

The perpetrator is now dead. Can I still file a claim?

Yes. A claim can be filed against the estate of the perpetrator. However, there are very strict and short time restrictions for doing so.

Who are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse?

Under Connecticut law, the following people are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse: doctors; nurses; medical examiners; dentists; dental hygienists; psychologists; coaches; school teachers; school principals; school guidance counselors; school paraprofessionals; social workers; police officers; juvenile or adult probation and parole officers; members of the clergy; pharmacists; physical therapists; optometrists; chiropractors; podiatrists; mental health professionals; physician’s assistants; certified EMT providers; certified drug and alcohol counselors; licensed marital and family therapists; sexual assault and battered women’s counselors; paid child care providers in public or private facilities; child day care centers; licensed group and family day care centers; employees of the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Public Health if responsible for licensing day care centers, homes, or youth camps; and employees of the Office of the Child Advocate, including designated Child Advocates.

Any person so identified who in the course of his or her employment or profession has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or has been inflicted with non-accidental injuries or is at imminent risk of serious harm must report or cause a report to be made in accordance with state law. Violation of the law will result in a monetary fine and required participation in an educational and training program. See Connecticut General Statutes Sections 17-101(b); 17a-101a.

Effects of sexual abuse on children

Effects of Sexual Abuse on Children
The effects of sexual abuse can last a lifetime, having an effect on abuse survivors, their spouses, their children and even extended family. At Tremont Sheldon P.C., our lawyers focus on helping sexual abuse survivors in Connecticut move forward and holding the perpetrators of sexual abuse accountable for the damage their depraved actions have caused.

The Aftermath of Sexual Abuse
Recovering from sexual abuse can be very difficult, especially for people who are suffering in silence without the support of family and professionals. Some effects of sexual abuse include:

  • Suicide
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Dissociative identity disorder (DID)

How to prevent sexual abuse

At Tremont Sheldon P.C., we have extensive experience holding sexual abusers accountable and seeking justice for the survivors of abuse in Connecticut. While our lawyers consider it a privilege to help the brave survivors who come forward, we want to raise awareness around the steps that individuals and organizations can take to prevent sexual abuse from happening in the first place.

Be Vigilant as a Parent

Ultimately, you know your child better than anyone and know what is best for him or her. It is important for you to do your own background checks or take the time to get to know your child’s teachers, coaches, ministers, scout leaders, babysitters and others who will be spending a significant amount of time in your child’s life. There are also free databases that will alert you to sex offenders living near your home.

Often overlooked is the amount of time that other parents spend with children at school-related functions such as field trips. Parents and teachers aids are often not subjected to the rigorous background checks and other processes that teachers and other school officials go through.

While it is tempting to simply trust other adults and assume that no one would harm your child, being vigilant is truly worth the effort. If your child is going to be joining a traveling team at school, attending a field trip, joining a scout troupe or any similar activity, it is important to take the following actions:

  • Call up the organization and confirm that they perform background checks on employees AND volunteers
  • Confirm that your child will never be alone with an adult
  • Let your children know that no adult should be asking them to keep secrets or spend time alone with them that is different from the other kids.