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

Were You a Victim of Sexual Abuse at School?

Every child in America has the right to a good education. We, as parents, trust that the teachers and staff at the schools our children attend have the best interests of our kids in mind. Almost always that is in fact the case.

Tragically, however, there are a few educators who violate this trust and have sexually assaulted children. When that occurs, not only must the teacher be held responsible but also the school needs to be held responsible if it allowed the abuse to occur. At Tremont Sheldon P.C. in Bridgeport, we have settled a number of cases against private, parochial and public schools and are actively pursuing a case against a public high school.

Sexual abuse in schools is far more prevalent than people realize. If you have been abused, you are not alone and help is available. Call our office at 203-212-9075 to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss what happened.

Challenges With Reporting School Abuse

Victims frequently have difficulty reporting abuse because of the guilt and shame that they feel. It is not uncommon for some victims to doubt that abuse has even taken place because their abusers have groomed them into believing that they were in a consensual relationship or they somehow attracted this attention. Others may feel helpless because of fears that nobody will believe them.

A study referenced in The Boston Globe estimated that only six to 10 percent of students report abuse by teachers and other educators. Abuse can occur anywhere at any age, including:

Protection From Retaliation

Even when students or other educators do report sexual abuse, they may face an uphill battle to obtain justice. Many students have been retaliated against by the schools. Retaliation efforts have included formal disciplinary action as well as expulsion.

New England private schools: The Globe Spotlight Team for The Boston Globe uncovered multiple instances of retaliation against students who were sexually abused or employees who reported the abuse. The following is a list of schools in Connecticut identified by the Globe Spotlight Team:

  • Assumption Catholic School (Our Lady of Assumption School), Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Brunswick School, Greenwich, Connecticut
  • Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, Connecticut
  • Eagle Hill School, Greenwich, Connecticut
  • Forman School, Litchfield, Connecticut
  • The Glenholme School, Washington, Connecticut
  • The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecticut
  • Indian Mountain School, Lakeville, Connecticut
  • The Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut
  • Miss Porter’s School, Farmington, Connecticut
  • Notre Dame Catholic High School, Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Waterbury, Connecticut
  • Pomfret School, Pomfret Center, Connecticut
  • St. Thomas More School, Oakdale, Connecticut
  • St. Joseph’s School, Shelton, Connecticut
  • St. Stanislaus, Meriden, Connecticut
  • Taft School, Watertown, Connecticut
  • The Academy at Mount Saint John, Deep River, Connecticut
  • Westover School, Middlebury, Connecticut
  • St. Lawrence School in West Haven
  • St. Anthony’s in Danbury
  • Hopkins School in New Haven
  • Villa Maria School in Stamford
  • Stamford Board of Education
  • The Town of Trumbull
  • Boys & Girls Village in Milford
  • The Children’s Center of Hamden and The Child and Family Guidance Center in Bridgeport

Retaliation can be difficult to prove. Victims are often selected for vulnerabilities such as family problems or learning disabilities. Victims may develop substance abuse issues or have other psychological problems. When they act out, they are often disciplined by the school.

We are familiar with the retaliatory techniques used by the school, and our lawyers know what it takes to build a successful retaliation case.

Discreet Legal Counsel for Victims of Sexual Abuse at School

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.