Joseph A. Lombardo
Sexual abuse inside of elementary schools and high schools is a serious issue. Victims of sexual abuse in schools can suffer consequences that extend far into their futures, including trauma, social exclusion, and an lower quality of education.
Victims of sexual abuse in school should seek professional legal help to ensure that they can get the representation they need to seek damages for their abuse and hold the school employees accountable for their actions. Joseph Lombardo is prepared to help victims of sexual abuse in New Jersey schools receive fair legal treatment. If your child or someone else you know has been abused by someone in a school in New Jersey, seek legal help from the Lombardo Law Group, LLC, immediately by calling (609) 445-4300.
Defining Sexual Abuse in New Jersey
Sexual abuse that happens in schools in New Jersey almost always happens to children under the age of 18. What is regarded as “child sexual abuse” happens any time that someone over the age of 18 engages in a sexual act with a minor that is under the age of 18. In schools, sexual abuse of children typically happens between a student and an employee of the school, such as a teacher, counselor, coach, nurse or administrator.
In most child sexual abuse cases, it is assumed that the abuser knew that what they were doing was wrong and that their purpose in committing the abuse was the attainment of sexual gratification. Illegal sexual contact is contact with the victim’s private parts; they may or may not be clothed. Child pornography (either producing, owning, or sharing it) is another type of sexual abuse of children; this includes sending or receiving sexually explicit images of children that are underage, also known as “sexting.”
Another common type of child sexual abuse is lewd behavior or indecent exposure to a child. Sexual abuse also includes fondling, masturbation in the presence of a child or forcing the child to masturbate, obscene communication, sex trafficking, and any other type of sexual conduct that can harm the mental, emotional, or physical welfare of the child.
Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Claims in NJ
Sometimes sexual abuse cases are hard to file claims for because they are bound by short statutes of limitations. It is often hard for victims to be fully prepared to report their sexual abuse. Sometimes, the statute of limitations passes by the time they feel ready to report the abuse they suffered as a child, leaving them unable to bring consequences to the abuser.
Luckily, New Jersey has a relatively long statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse. As of December 1, 2019, the law regarding the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse in New Jersey has the following measures:
- Two years from enactment to file a civil sexual abuse claim, regardless of when the abuse occurred
- Victims of sexual abuse as children have until age 55 to make a claim
- Victims have seven years to make a claim after discovering the damage their abuse caused them
Claims in School Sexual Abuse Cases
When seeking consequences for the abuser in a school sexual abuse case, there are two types of claims that can be filed: criminal and civil.
When making criminal claims, the evidence must prove that the crime was committed “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Concrete evidence must show that the alleged crimes were committed by the abuser. In cases of child sexual abuse that occurs in schools, it will need to be proven that the school staff member did abuse the child. Child sexual abuse is a type of child abuse, and abusers will face charges accordingly.
Civil claims are easier to prove than criminal cases. In a civil case, all that is needed is a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that at least 50 percent of the evidence is accurate and convincing. In a civil claim, the victim seeks only to receive compensation for their suffering. There is no criminal determination made in a civil case.
In a child sexual abuse case, both the child and the child’s caregiver (birth parents or legal guardian) are able to file civil claims. The child (represented by a parent or guardian) is able to sue for the harm that they have suffered, whether it be physical, emotional, or otherwise. The parents or guardians of the child may also sue for the harm that they themselves have suffered from the knowledge that their child was abused.
Costs associated with pain and suffering are known as general damages. Specific costs, on the other hand, are those that were incurred as a direct result of the abuse. In a child sexual abuse case, this is likely to be the cost of medical treatment and mental health care.
In most cases, the defendant in a school sexual abuse case will be the staff member who committed the abuse. However, in some cases, the defendant may the school itself. Schools are obligated to perform background checks on all employees. If the school knowingly hired a staff member with a history of sexual abuse, then the school may have been negligent and therefore responsible for the abuse.
Attorney for School Sexual Abuse Cases in New Jersey
Your family deserves the best legal representation possible as you deal with the trauma associated with sexual assault in a New Jersey school. Get in touch with an attorney that can treat your case with special care and sensitivity. Call (609) 445-4300 today to set up a free consultation with the Lombardo Law Group, LLC.
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