Sexual abuse at public schools is a tragic event that unfortunately occurs unbeknownst to the general public. Schools often keep these tragic matters hidden to the public eye, and by the time allegations surface and are formally investigated, the statute of limitations on these despicable acts has already passed. Fortunately, a new law may help survivors pursue the compensation they deserve.
On January 1st, 2020, Assembly Bill 218 officially becomes law. This state bill extends the statute of limitations for survivors of child abuse in California, while also adding special provisions so that all survivors may have an opportunity to pursue compensation. For survivors of school abuse whose statute of limitations has passed on their case, this can be a second chance to seek justice.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse by an educator or public school staff, please contact the law offices of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly, & Schoenberger immediately to discuss your case. You may have an opportunity to hold any responsible parties accountable for their actions.
What is Sexual Abuse in a School Setting?
Sexual abuse in a public school can encompass a wide range of inappropriate actions by teachers and other education professionals. This includes:
- Inappropriate sexual comments to a student or child
- Groping or other inappropriate touching
- Sex of any kind, including vaginal, oral, and anal
- Grooming, the act of making advances on a student with the intent of fostering a future sexual relationship
- Any interaction that contains explicit comments, such as email and text conversations
- Sexual activity in front of a student
- Soliciting sexually explicit pictures from a student
Because a child is not of legal age, they cannot legally consent to any form of sexual activity. As such, any type of sexual interaction with a child constitutes sex abuse.
Who Are Abusers in a Public School?
Although we consider educators and teachers to be the primary predators in cases of school abuse, that is often not the case. Other school employees who may abuse children include:
- School administrators
- Maintenance workers/janitors
- After school program counselors
- School nurses
- School counselors
How Does AB-218 Change the Law on Sexual Abuse Claims?
Passed in October, AB-218 effectively empowers survivors of school abuse in two ways.
- It extends the statute of limitations of civil claims against school abuse. Survivors now have until they are 40 years old to pursue recovery of damages, or five years from the date of discovery – the date you learned that any subsequent psychological disorders or effects you developed were due to sexual abuse. This is up from 26 years old and three years after the date of discovery, respectively.
- Starting January 1st, 2020, AB-218 also opens a three-year window to file past claims, regardless of statute of limitations. This enables those who still fall outside the modified statute of limitations to pursue compensation for their case.
Essentially, AB-218 gives anyone who has survived sexual abuse by a public school official an opportunity to pursue civil compensation.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
Before moving forward with a claim, it is highly recommended to consult an attorney experienced in litigating sexual abuse claims against public schools and/or its employees.
- Because AB-218 is fairly new, it can be difficult to parse through the specifics of the bill. An experienced lawyer can help you decipher the new law, letting you know the proper procedure in order to proceed with a claim.
- Older cases of school abuse are often more difficult to litigate due to the potential loss of valuable evidence and documentation through the years. An attorney can assist in gathering this evidence, therefore helping to build a more substantial case against your abuser.
- Because public schools are funded by the government, there may be special circumstances when filing a claim against a former or current employee. Additionally, if the school district itself has been shown to be partially liable for any of the abuse or subsequent cover-ups, cases against public school districts have special claim rules that must be followed. Lawyers can help you ensure your case remains valid under these special rules.
Ultimately, an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer can give you peace of mind by taking care of all the legal work so that there is minimal stress imposed on your life.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one is a survivor of school abuse and the statute of limitations on your case has passed, you have a second chance at justice. Contact us today to see how we can help you secure the compensation you deserve.