Articles Posted in Sexual Assault

Prison-inside-empty-300x199The rates of childhood sexual assault are staggering. One in every five women under the age of 18 have been the victim of a sexual assault. The rate is lower, but still unimaginably high for boys: one out of twenty. The state legislature is finally catching up with changing social norms and cultural developments surrounding sexual assault. Until the recent passing of California Assembly Bill 218, many perpetrators of sexual assault hid behind the years of silence imposed on their victims through fear, embarrassment, disbelief, and intimidation. Now, however, the laws surrounding sexual assault are changing, allowing child victims that did not bring claims in the previously prescribed 8-year window to seek justice in a civil court until he or she reaches the age of 40. In this regard, California follows New York, New Jersey, and several other states enacting similar legislation.

            Individuals who were victimized and are still within the former statute of limitations period will be able to bring a claim up and until the day before they turn 40 years old. Individuals for which the statute of limitations has already run will be granted a 3-year window to file a lawsuit. For those individuals, claims that were already time-barred will be able to file their claim anytime between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2022.

The new law also includes a provision that drew heavy opposition, and a deluge of lobbying dollars, from the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, and the California public school system. Where a survivor of sexual assault can show that an organization covered up previous sexual assaults, and the survivor was subsequently assaulted—making the coverup its cause—the survivor can recover treble damages. The most publicized examples of such behavior regard the Catholic church, where leaders were aware of predatory clergy, but purposefully and systematically covered up the assaults and allowed the predators to have continued access to children. Some 800 lawsuits were filed in the weeks following the opening of the revival window. Between June 2017 and June 2018, prior to enactment of the law, the Catholic Church is estimated to have paid $301.6 million nationwide in relation to sexual abuse claims. That massive figure is poised to grow exponentially as more adults seek compensation for decades old sexual assaults.

A former student claiming she was raped by three Culver City High School football players recently filed suit. The lawsuit, which was filed last month in Los Angeles Superior Court, accuses the Culver City United School District of negligently failing to supervise the victim and her attackers. The victim’s mother sued on behalf of the victim (who is identified as “A.S.” in court filings).The alleged incidents occurred between December 4 and December 22, 2013, when A.S. was a freshman. The attack was allegedly recorded and then shared with fellow students. A.S.’ family filed suit roughly four months after reporting the attacks to school officials.

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Two American gymnasts, one of whom won a medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, recently filed suit, claiming that the team doctor sexually assaulted and molested them. The medal-winning victim is identified only as Jane J.D. Doe. The second is Rachael Denhollander, who was 15 at the time of the allegations. As defendants, the suit lists the physician, USA Gymnastics, and various coaches and trainers. The suit alleges that the team doctor, Dr. Larry Nassar (53), groped Doe’s private parts when he said he was performing osteopathic therapy. According to Doe, the doctor performed what he called an “inter-vaginal adjustment.” The medical community does not recognize such a procedure. Denhollander alleged that Nassar would massage her breasts and penetrate her vagina with his fingers without gloves while examining her at Michigan State University, where Dr. Nassar is a faculty member. What’s more, the lawsuit alleges that USA Gymnastics breached its obligation to report the abuse to law enforcement, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the victims’ families.

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The California Court of Appeals for the Second District recently upheld a $5.42 million award to a plaintiff following her being raped by an employee in a West Hollywood club bathroom.Defendant 696 North Robertson, LLC owns and operates a West Hollywood bar and dance club called Here Lounge. The defendant appealed from a judgment based on the jury’s award of $5.42 million in damages to plaintiff Janice H. for failing to use reasonable care to protect her from sexual assault in a unisex bathroom stall. The defendant claimed it did not breach a duty to the plaintiff and did not cause the plaintiff’s injury. Therefore, it maintained the court abused its discretion in erroneously admitting irrelevant and prejudicial evidence. Finally, the defendant contended that the jury’s non-economic damages award was excessive and punitive.

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The California Court of Appeals for the Second District recently held that a guidance counselor sued for sexual assault was entitled to reimbursement for his defense from the Los Angeles Community College District (the District) because he denied the allegations that he was acting outside the scope of his employment.Adult student Jazmyne Goodwin was a student at Los Angeles Southwest College (LASC), a school within the District. Igor Daza worked as a guidance counselor for LASC, providing educational and emotional counseling for students like Goodwin. In that capacity, he was assigned to Goodwin as a counselor. He used this position of authority to sexually harass and molest Goodwin.

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