In civil cases of school sex abuse, the role of the civil justice system is not punitive. That is usually the role of the criminal justice system. However, in certain cases, a victim plaintiff can obtain punitive damages against a wrongdoer in a civil case.
Under Pennsylvania law, when a party acts with conscious disregard for the health, safety and well-being of others, he or she may be liable for punitive damages to the injured party.
In the Penn State sex abuse scandal civil cases against the university, there no doubt will be punitive damages claims made, and rightfully so. There is evidence in the form of emails that the heads of the school knew about the allegations of sex abuse by Jerry Sandusky, but made a conscious decision to do nothing about them. As a direct result, other innocent children were abused by Sandusky.
Punitive damage awards are supposed to punish. They are supposed to send a message to the defendant and to others in society that a certain type of behavior will not be tolerated. In the case of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, the school should be held accountable to the tune of a large punitive damage claim. Why? Because this type of abuse is so much more common than most people realize. Children are often abused by teachers, coaches, and others at school. School administrators often make the conscious decision to protect themselves and the school’s reputation, and innocent children suffer as a result.
In school sex abuse cases in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, many parties can be held liable, such as:
- school districts,
- school administrators/principals, and
- before and after school care centers.
Related Legal Articles:
- New Jersey’s Statute of Limitations in Civil Sex Abuse Cases
- Filing Criminal Charges Against a Sex Abuser in Pennsylvania – What You Should Consider
- Pennsylvania Criminal Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse Offenses
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Published: June 30, 2012