We put our trust in teachers and educators to take care of our children during the day – but unfortunately, sexual abuse in public schools is a growing problem in California. Fortunately, new bills have recently been signed that may give survivors of school abuse additional opportunities for compensation.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of school abuse in California, the experienced sexual abuse attorneys of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger can help. We have spent more than 60 years fighting for those who have been hurt by the despicable actions of abusers and other predators. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation and see how a San Francisco school abuse attorney can help you seek justice today.
There Have Been Major Cases of School Sexual Abuse in the Bay Area
Cases of school abuse in San Francisco and the Bay Area are frequently unpublicized, but a couple notable egregious cases have recently come to light in the region.
The most notorious accounts of school abuse have allegedly occurred at Presentation High School in San Jose. Accusations of abuse were initially brought to light after former student Kathryn Leehane published a column in which she described being groped and shown sexually explicit pictures by her Spanish teacher in the 1990’s.
After an overwhelming response, Leehane created “Make Pres Safe,” a website where former and current students could report accusations of sexual misconduct or abuse at the school. Shockingly, according to these accounts, there may have been instances of sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1970s. This includes the molestation and grooming of former student Danielle Wood in 2004 by theater director Jeff Hicks, which was recently settled by Presentation High School for an undisclosed amount.
Where Does School Sexual Abuse Occur?
It is important to note that sexual abuse of students in a public school can happen in a variety of different situations – not just in the classroom by a teacher or educator. School sexual abuse can occur in:
- Extracurricular clubs, such as the theater department mentioned above at Presentation High School.
- School buses. This includes employees from companies such as Laidlaw, the largest public school transportation provider in California – and also one who has had previous allegations of misconduct by its bus drivers.
- CYO programs. This Christian-based athletics program includes coaches, mentors, and other potential predators for children.
- The 4H Club, a youth organization that provides development and mentorship services for children and students.
- Youth sports programs. This includes coaches, activity coordinators, and any volunteers working in the program.
Any sexual misconduct that occurs in an educational circumstance or background constitutes school abuse.
New CA Law Gives Survivors A Second Chance at Justice
Starting January 1st, 2020, state bill AB-218 becomes law. Effective throughout California, AB-218 allows survivors of school sexual abuse more opportunities to seek compensation from any responsible parties. It primarily does this by extending the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims to 22 years past the age of majority (18 years old in California) or five years from the date of discovery – up from eight years and three years, respectively.
Additionally, AB-218 gives those who still fall outside the new statute of limitations an opportunity to seek compensation. It allows the state to open a three year window to file any claims of sexual abuse, regardless of time limits.
Ultimately, this law effectively gives everyone who is a survivor of school abuse a second chance at seeking closure and recovery for their past damages.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for School Sexual Abuse?
In school abuse cases, it is highly recommended to consult an experienced attorney before proceeding with your claim – especially with the new state law in mind.
- Litigating cases that fall outside the statute of limitations can often be complicated, as any substantiating evidence or findings may have been lost to time. An attorney can help gather all the necessary corroborating facts or evidence to help substantiate your case and give it the attention it deserves.
- The state will be receiving an influx of claims in this three-year-period, and so any incomplete or incorrect claims may be automatically rejected. A lawyer can ensure that your claim is correct and filed properly in order to prevent a premature rejection by the state.
- An attorney can help you seek compensation from all responsible parties that may have acted in negligence in the aftermath of your abuse. For example, some schools and administrations may have failed to report your case to the proper authorities – or they may have outright covered up any instances of abuse to prevent negative publicity. We can help pursue these accountable parties for further compensation that you deserve.
When you are seeking justice for any despicable crimes against you, an attorney is an invaluable tool for pursuing any and all possible leads for the maximum possible compensation and peace-of-mind for your needs.
Let Us Help You Today
At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we understand the devastating impact of school sexual abuse on a student and his or her loved ones – and we want to help these survivors in any way that we can.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of school sexual abuse in California, please contact a San Francisco school abuse lawyer at our firm today to see how we can help. Even if your case is outside the statute of limitations, the new provisions may give you a second chance to pursue compensation for any damages. We want to hear your case – let us help you today.