Leading child sexual abuse lawyers fighting for the rights of minors who have suffered harm in South Carolina.
When a child suffers sexual abuse or exploitation, the impact can last a lifetime. The physical violation can be scarring on its own but when the perpetrator is a trusted adult, victims face emotional and psychological scars, substance abuse, and suicidal tendencies.
At The Michael Jeffcoat Firm, we understand how difficult and sensitive a time like this can be, and our sexual abuse lawyers are committed to assisting victims and their families here in South Carolina.
Sexual abuse of children is a wide-spread problem
No one knows the exact rates of occurrence but studies agree that sexual abuse of children is more common than most people realize. Some research suggests that one out of every four girls, as well as one out of every six boys, will be the victim of sexual abuse as children or teenagers.
Unfortunately, most children keep sexual abuse a secret. It is estimated that only ten percent of abused children report it to an adult. Understandably, child victims of abuse may distrust adults after such an experience because in more than 9 out of 10 cases, the abuser is someone who the child knows and trusts.
In such difficult times, choose a caring South Carolina injury attorney who will fight aggressively for you and your family. With The Michael Jeffcoat Firm on your side, you will receive one-on-one attention and skilled representation.
Liability for child sexual abuse in South Carolina
Research shows that child abuse, including molestation, most often occurs at the hands of a trusted authority figure. Perpetrators commonly include teachers, camp counselors, doctors, neighbors, coaches, babysitters, and clergy members.
When a child is victimized by a sexual predator, both the perpetrator and the people or organization responsible for the perpetrator may be held liable. The abuser, not surprisingly, can be held liable for physically committing the violation. Other parties may be liable for failing to protect the child.
Responsibility for allowing abuse to occur or failing to report abuse may fall on:
- Daycares and preschools
- Summer camps
- Youth sports organizations
- Any other organization with a duty to protect the child
A civil sexual abuse lawsuit is different and separate from a criminal case. In a criminal case, the perpetrator may face jail time and other punishment, but in civil case the victim and his or her family may receive monetary and other compensation from the perpetrator or other at-fault parties. The burden of proof is higher in a criminal case, so if the perpetrator has already been convicted then it may be easier to win the civil case. But even if the perpetrator was not convicted, he may still be found liable for civil damages.
A child sex abuse victim in South Carolina has until six years after he or she turns twenty-one, or three years from the date that he or she realized that the injuries were caused by the abuse, to file a civil lawsuit. The child or his or her parents or other legal guardians may be entitled to compensation for abuse. Damages for child sexual abuse can include amounts for physical and emotional pain and suffering, the expected costs of future counseling, and in cases where an employer or other organization grossly mishandled reports of abuse, there may be substantial awards of punitive damages.
Significant sex abuse cases in the news
Some notable child sexual abuse cases that have been reported include:
- A California judge awarded a former Jehovah’s Witness $13.5 million in his lawsuit against the Watchtower Society. The Watchtower Society refused to provide a list of known child predators to the man’s congregation, enabling a child molester to abuse him when he was 7. The award included $10.5 million in punitive damages based on the Society’s response to accusations of the abuse.
- In 2012, the state of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services entered a settlement to pay $2.85 million to settle a lawsuit by a woman who had been sexually abused by her father as a teen. According to her lawsuit, the Department failed to protect her, returning her to his care after receiving reports that he had molested and served alcohol and drugs to minor girls.
- In the summer of 2014, a school district in the San Jose, California, area agreed to pay $14 million to two women who sued over sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of a high school biology teacher. An investigation showed that the school district failed to investigate reports of abuse and that the then-principal, assistant principal, and superintendent all failed to report the teacher’s abuse. The school district also paid out a $4.65 million settlement in 2013 to two other women who were sexually abused by the science teacher.
South Carolina child sex abuse lawyer
The Michael Jeffcoat Firm serves victims of child molestation and abuse in South Carolina, including Columbia, Lexington, and Richland County. Each case deserves special attention and that is what you can expect from us. Call today to discuss your rights during a free case evaluation.
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