Children who are abused in school settings, whether by an administrator, teacher, aide, nurse, coach or janitor, have legal rights under the laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. First, a victim of sex abuse in a school setting has legal rights in the criminal justice system. For instance, under the Pennsylvania Crime Victim’s Act, victims have certain legal rights, such as the right to make a statement prior to sentencing.
Civil Legal Rights in School Sex Abuse Cases in PA & NJ
A student who is sexually assaulted or abused by a teacher has a right to be compensated not only for any physical injury, but also for the deep emotional trauma caused by such abuse. This can be accomplished by filing a civil lawsuit. In addition, the laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey recognize the rights of those who suffer abuse by teachers to receive monetary compensation for medical or psychological treatment.
Potential defendants include the abuser as well as any other person or business which knew or should have known about the abuse. For example, a school principal who ignores complaints about a specific school employee and fails to conduct an investigation could face liability in addition to the school or school district. Each case is unique and success depends on the strength of evidence.
It is important to note that these civil rights are entirely separate from any criminal proceedings. In fact, these rights in no way depend on success of any criminal case or criminal investigation. In other words, even if there is no criminal investigation, a civil claim or lawsuit may be filed.
The civil justice system operates to right a wrong by awarding the aggrieved party with financial compensation. That is simply how civil lawsuits work. Accordingly, victims of school sex abuse by teachers, coaches, etc., have the legal right to make a claim for financial compensation. Financial compensation awards are typically based on medical/counseling costs, loss of income and pain and suffering.
Victims of sexual abuse often suffer devastating psychological and emotional injuries. Oftentimes, the damage is long-lasting. Many victims turn to alcohol and drug use to help them cope. Sex abuse in school settings is a serious problem, and victims deserve justice.
For more information, see a related post on civil justice in school sex abuse cases.
About Brian Kent
Brian is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor with the Montgomery County, PA District Attorney’s Office. Since joining the private sector, Brian has fought for victims of crime including victims of priest abuse, teacher abuse and more. Please call Brian for a free case review. 215.399.9255 or Toll Free at 800.220.7600
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Last updated: February 2, 2015