Los Angeles School Sexual Abuse Attorney
Parents send their children to school, assuming it’s a safe place where students are educated and nurtured. However, school can become a place of horrors when a child suffers sexual abuse at school.
If you or your child was sexually abused at school, you should consider legal action. At Boucher LLP, our LA school sexual abuse attorneys advocate for sexual abuse survivors. We support survivors as they stand up to the people in power who harmed them, and we seek justice.
Filing a school sexual abuse lawsuit gives you a powerful platform to share your story, hold accountable those who enabled your abuse, and protect others from harm.
The Los Angeles school sexual abuse attorneys at Boucher LLP can help you with this step toward healing.
How Common Is School Sexual Abuse?
Sadly, school sexual abuse occurs more often than we would imagine. While much media attention is given to sexual assault on college campuses, every day innocent children suffer sexual abuse in K-12 schools.
Politico reported statistics from the 2017-2018 school year, saying, “Schools reported nearly 15,000 total incidents of sexual violence, which reflects an overall 55-percent increase from the 2015-16 school year.” The American Association of University Women says that nearly half of students in grades 7–12 report facing sexual harassment.
Abusers may include teachers, administrators, other school personnel, or students. Whether or not the student consents to the sexual act, sexual contact with a minor is against the law.
What Should You Do After Discovering School Sexual Abuse in Los Angeles?
You may be just coming to terms with the fact that you were sexually abused as a child and struggling to figure out what, if anything, to do about it. Or you may be furious to learn that someone sexually abused your child at school.
It can seem challenging to determine how to take appropriate action to prevent further injury. We recommend taking the following steps to protect yourself and/or your child physically and emotionally in the event of sexual abuse that takes place at school.
Under California law, your child has a right to an educational environment free of sexual harassment and sexual violence (California SB-169). After taking these preliminary steps, you may consider your legal options.
You can seek justice under California criminal law, California civil law, and federal civil rights law.
An experienced Los Angeles school sexual abuse attorney can guide you through these options and determine which is best for your goals.
California Criminal Law
Sexual abuse of a child is a crime under the California Penal Code. Anyone age 18 or older who has sexual contact with anyone under age 18 commits an unlawful sex act.
The bigger the age difference between the adult and the child, the harsher the penalties become. Penalties may include fines and imprisonment.
Get Medical Care
If you need medical care, seek treatment as soon as possible. You may want a trusted friend or family member to accompany you when you seek care. Take the time you need to physically heal from the trauma you suffered.
Get Mental Health Care
Experiencing the trauma of sexual abuse negatively impacts your mental health. The same holds true for a parent who learns the child they would do anything to protect was sexually abused at school.
Give yourself the space to process your emotions, and talk to someone you trust. If you prefer to talk to a professional, seek a therapist with experience counseling sexual abuse survivors.
If you are a parent whose child has been sexually abused, therapy can be just as helpful for you as it is for your child.
There are also free support resources that you can access. For instance, The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-656-4673 or online.
File a Police Report
Report the sexual abuse to your local police or sheriff’s department. They can then launch a criminal investigation. You should also report the incident to your school.
Protect Your Child
If your child was recently abused at school, you must take steps to protect them from contact with their abuser. If you think the school poses a continued threat to your child, you may need to consider a different school option.
Contact a Los Angeles School Sexual Abuse Lawyer
A sexual abuse attorney can help you with all these steps, giving you essential direction and insight.
A school sexual abuse attorney in LA will inform you of your legal options and investigate the school to determine whether it had a role in and can be held accountable for allowing the sexual abuse to happen.
For instance, the school may have gotten other reports of sexual abuse by the same perpetrator and failed to take appropriate action to protect students, it may have ignored red flags in relation to the perpetrator, or it may have had insufficient policies in place to prevent school sexual abuse from occurring.
While reaching a settlement in a civil lawsuit takes time, you can take immediate steps to protect yourself and your child from further harm.
For instance, it might be necessary to file a restraining order to prevent further contact between the abuser and your child.
An attorney can also help determine whether there are additional measures the school should take to protect your child from further abuse or retaliation for reporting the sexual abuse.
How Does a School Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Work?
The United States has two systems of seeking justice, civil and criminal. When you file a police report, you launch a potential criminal prosecution.
When the State of California criminally prosecutes a sexual abuser, the punishments include possible imprisonment and fines.
However, finding an abuser guilty requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a tough standard to meet.
A civil lawsuit, on the other hand, seeks to restore some degree of justice for the survivor through monetary compensation and other settlement terms. You can file a civil lawsuit against both the abuser and the school that enabled the abuse.
A school is responsible for the safety of its students, and when abuse occurs at school, the school and school district can be found liable if it is determined that the school could have and should have done more to keep students safe from sexual abuse.
In a civil lawsuit, your attorney presents evidence to prove that it was more likely than not that the abuse occurred and that the school did not do all that it should have to prevent it. This is a less difficult standard than the proof required in criminal law.
So even if a criminal court acquitted your abuser of criminal charges, you may still bring a successful civil suit. Likewise, you can sue even if your abuser received a criminal conviction.
Sometimes, civil lawsuits conclude with the parties reaching a settlement agreement. This can be better for a survivor because it avoids the stress of trial and the longer timeframe required.
A settlement gives you control over the lawsuit process because you, rather than a judge or jury, have the final say over what to request and whether to accept a settlement offer.
In a settlement agreement, you can request compensation for medical bills, counseling bills, and pain and suffering.
You can also submit non-monetary requests, such as asking the school to establish a sexual abuse hotline or requiring its teachers to attend more sexual abuse training.
Sometimes, however, a defendant would rather face the risk of losing at trial than make a reasonable settlement offer.
In choosing a Los Angeles school sex abuse attorney to represent you, one factor to consider is the firm’s trial experience and willingness to try a case when the situation calls for it.
While less common, a trial is not as scary as you might think. There are many steps between filing a lawsuit and getting to trial.
An experienced trial attorney will be by your side every step of the way and will ensure you are well prepared, both mentally and emotionally, by the time the case gets to trial.
Contact a Los Angeles School Sexual Abuse Lawyer
If you or your child was sexually abused in school, you need an experienced sexual abuse attorney. An attorney can guide you on legal options and help you navigate the complexities as you seek justice.
At Boucher LLP, we have worked with hundreds of sexual abuse survivors. Our attorneys listen to heartbreaking stories with compassion and respond with a determination to achieve justice.
We support survivors as they speak truth to power and seek to reclaim their story and right the injustices they experienced.
Contact our legal team for a free consultation if you are ready to consider legal options in response to school sexual abuse.
We won’t pressure you to take any action, but we’ll give you the knowledge and legal counsel you need to make an informed decision.