Child Molestation Claims
The news headlines are alarming and unbelievable, but occurring with shocking frequency. Another child has come forward to report sexual molestation at the hands of a trusted person, be it a family physician, church leader, educator or family member (or a host of any other trusted persons). Unfortunately, sexual exploitation’ by members of trusted institutions, be it our doctors, clergy, schools, or otherwise occurs with surprising regularity.
By way of example, between 1983 and 1987 approximately two hundred Roman Catholic priests were publicly accused of sexual contact with children. In other words, about once a week the Roman Catholic Church was put on notice that one of its representatives was accused of child sexual abuse. Along these lines, numerous priests have been convicted and imprisoned on sexual abuse charges since 1983.
The financial consequences of sexual abuse scandals can be devastating to the victims and the institutions accountable for putting these predators in a position of power should rightly be held financially responsible. This type of accountability is particularly true in situations where the institution involved (be it a church or otherwise) failed to properly investigate the person responsible prior to placement in position of power or failed to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct.
Sexual exploitation of vulnerable persons, such as a child or mentally impaired, is abhorrent and should be subject to a civil action for two basic reasons. First, victims of sexual abuse by an employee of a trusted institution are often vulnerable persons. They are often children, troubled individuals or persons of limited mental capacity simply seeking help.
Second, those person placed in such a powerful position of trust may manipulate victims by using his/her professional position to gain trust, both of the victim and their parents/loved-ones. As sick as it may sound, the wrongdoer may “prescribe” or “recommend” sexual relations, and the victim complies because of the person’s authority and expertise. Similarly, the victim starts to sincerely believe that the molester is acting with their best interest at heart. With regard to church abuse cases, victims may even rely on a person’s assertion that sexual activity is religiously permissible, or that a vow of celibacy only applies to heterosexual relationships, thus allowing any homosexual activity. The wrongdoer’s control is further heightened when the sexual requests or assaults occur when the person is serving a church function.
Holding Institutions Responsible
At Jackel & Phillips, we will fight for you to impose liability on responsible institutions for sexual abuse on the basis of respondeat superior. This pathway to liability is where the institutional party can be held liable based on a relationship that party has with the perpetrator of the molestation. For example, the Courts often use this theory to hold employers liable for the acts of their employees. Respondeat superior is different from “negligent hiring” and “negligent retention” of an unfit employee in that respondeat superior is not based on the negligence of the employer but rather attributes the negligence or intentional conduct of the molester onto the employer. Liability under respondeat superior is justified because the employer chose the employee and entrusted that person with a position of power/responsibility. Therefore, it is considered fairer that the employer pay for the wrongdoer’s misbehavior rather than an innocent victim.
Negligent hiring is also another pathway in which a trusted institution, such as a church or school, may be held liable for sexual abuse. Different from respondeat superior, negligent hiring concentrates on the negligence of the employer rather than the culpability of the wrongdoer. In other words, the element of fault which is inapplicable under respondeat superior is the cornerstone to this type of civil recovery. Fault is generally established when an employer fails to use reasonable care in the selection or retention of an employee and that employee injures the victim. The employer is normally held responsible because it is found that the employer selected or retained an employee who was unfit to fulfill the position of power. Also, by placing an unfit employee in an situation in which harm to others is reasonably foreseeable, the employer is rendered liable. Thus, the law places an affirmative duty on the employer to use reasonable care in the selection and retention of employees.
We Can Help!
Despite all of the publicity, recovery for these types of sexual molestation cases has simply not been adequately addressed by our court system. There are all sorts of reasons for this lack of justice, not the least of which is the reluctance of the victims to come forward. At Jackel & Phillips, however, it is our passion to fight for clients. We will fight for you to impose the civil liability on negligent institutions, be it a doctor’s office, church or school (or any trusted institution) for any sexual abuse by those wrongdoers in a position of power. We will fight for you to recover the money damages you need to help you cope with the devastating consequences of molestation. And, finally, we will fight for you to bring some semblance of justice for the wrong which was committed.
If you or a loved one (including your child or parent) has suffered molestation at the hands of a person in a position of power with a trusted institution, you may have a case for a civil action. To learn more about your options with a molestation injury attorney, schedule a free consultation with Jackel & Phillips Marietta Lawyers today. Call 770-218-8100 for a free case evaluation or submit an email.
At Jackel & Phillips, we have the experience, knowledge and compassion you need for the results you deserve