California Attorneys for Sexual Abuse by Teachers
Holding teachers, schools, and school districts accountable
Teachers who sexually abuse children must be held accountable for their unthinkable actions in a court of law. Do not hesitate to seek legal help from an experienced Los Angeles attorney for sexual abuse committed by teachers. The law firm of Taylor & Ring advocates for rape and assault victims throughout California. Contact us to learn more.
Sexual abuse by teachers happens much too often
According to a report by the American Association of University Women, around one in 10 students in grades eight through eleven said they had been the victim of one or more such abuses from a teacher or other school employee. Two-thirds of the reported incidents involved physical contact.
When it comes to sexual abuse in schools, teachers are among the most common perpetrators of rape and sexual assault of students. They have the opportunity to work alone with children, and are in a position of authority that allows them to prey on their victims more easily. Sadly, many sexual predators seek out professions, like teaching, that allow them to meet, groom, and abuse new victims.
Cases of teacher misconduct in California
Under the law, school officials are mandated reporters: this means that, if they suspect or know of sexual abuse, they are required to report it to law enforcement or to a child welfare agency. They are immune from liability if they turn out to be wrong. Therefore, if a school administrator (for example) hears a “rumor” of sexual abuse, or sees behavior that he or she finds problematic, that administrator has to report it. The same is true of other teachers, school aides, counselors, and so forth.
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), which is in charge of issuing and revoking teaching licenses, received 331 reports alleging sexual misconduct against children between 2017 and 2018, according to the Voice of San Diego. According to their report, about half of all cases reported to the CCTC will end up being reviewed by the Commission.
Sexual abuse and “passing the trash”
Mandatory reporting is required. What is not required under law, however, is for schools that have placed a teacher on leave while they investigate a claim, or who have let a teacher go for suspected sexual abuse, to disclose this information to other schools in California. This is known as “passing the trash.”
Furthermore, if a teacher who is accused of sexually assaulting a student is reported to the CCTC with the goal of revoking his or her teaching license, the accused teacher is subject to review, and is allowed to appeal. This process can take a very long time.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – license revocation in one state does not mean a license will be revoked in another. If a teacher accused of molesting a student in Utah moves to California (or vice versa), there is no guarantee that he or she won’t be granted a new teaching license in the new state. A 2016 investigatory report by USA TODAY revealed “fundamental defects in the teacher screening systems used to ensure the safety of children in the nation's more than 13,000 school districts” because “States fail to report the names of thousands of disciplined teachers to a privately run database that is the nation’s only centralized system for tracking teacher discipline, many of which were acknowledged by several states’ education officials and the database’s non-profit operator” (emphasis ours).
Sexual abuse and LAUSD
Between 2014 and 2016, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) had paid out more than $300 million in student sexual abuse claims. In the years that followed, the District has paid out at least $27 million more – including a settlement of $5 million to a client of Taylor & Ring, the largest settlement paid out by LAUSD to a single victim so far.
Recognizing the signs of sexual abuse in students
Child sexual abuse is insidious, and can be difficult to identify. Physical signs – such as bruising around the genitals, anus, or pelvis; difficulty walking or sitting; and/or pain when using the bathroom – can indicate abuse at any age, but behaviors can change depending on the age of the child, too.
In younger children:
- Regression to earlier behaviors, like thumb-sucking or bed-wetting
- Sexually aggressive play, with dolls or other children
- Agitation or resistance at bed time or bath time, when clothes need to be removed and changed
In older children and teens:
- Anxiety or depression, including suicidal thoughts
- Self-injury and harm, including cutting
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse
- Either hiding as much or their bodies as possible, or wearing clothing that exposes an excessive amount of skin
- Changes in personal hygiene and grooming
In children of any age:
- Nightmares or other sleep disruptions
- Sudden changes in eating habits
- Changes in behavior or mood
- Creating sexually explicit or violent art (writing, drawing, etc.)
What you can do if you suspect a teacher is sexually abusing your child
If your child is exhibiting signs of sexual abuse, and you believe a teacher may be molesting him or her:
- Speak with your child first. If your child tells you he or she has been abused, immediately call your local law enforcement and file a report.
- Go to the local hospital. Request a rape kit immediately.
- With permission, ask to photograph the injuries. If your child has sustained bruising, ask if it is okay if you take pictures. Then, give those photos to the police. It is likely that the police and/or the hospital will take pictures as well.
- Encourage your child while he or she speaks with the police. Talking to law enforcement can be terrifying. Your child may or may not want you in the room when describing the events. If he or she chooses not to disclose the details in front of you, make sure there is an advocate for your child in the room during the process.
- Ask the police about contacting the school. We understand the primal urge to look for the teacher, or to confront the school. Do not do this. Let the police handle it. They are trained to deal with these horrific situations.
- Call a lawyer. You are going to need representation: period. After you have taken care of your child’s health and spoken to the police, call us. Our Los Angeles child abuse lawyers have handled numerous cases of sexual abuse by teachers and school staff, including cases involving sexual touching, sexual grabbing, locker room transgressions, and inappropriate romantic relationships.
- Shut down your social media profiles, and your children’s profiles. Nothing good comes from posting on social media, and it can harm your case. Stay away from the comments section, too.
Why choose Taylor & Ring?
Our firm has handled cases involving teachers ranging from third grade through middle school and high school. We understand that potential effects such actions can have on your child, and we advocate aggressively on his or her behalf. But we also understand that discretion is needed, in order to protect your child. We provide a safe space for families, where you and your child can feel free to discuss your needs, ask your questions, and let your walls down. The men and women of Taylor & Ring respect you and your rights, and we will do whatever is in our power within the law to protect you and your rights during this challenging time.
Examples of cases we have handled involving sexual abuse by teachers
Taylor & Ring has earned a wide-reaching reputation for its success in bringing claims against school districts that fail to protect their students, and against teachers who sexual assault students and children. Just some of the teacher abuse cases our firm has handled include:
- $25.3 million verdict. A 13-year-old boy was victimized almost daily by a supervisor at the Westerly School in Long Beach, California, and no one at the school ever reported it to law enforcement, despite suspicions by multiple parties.
- $14 million settlement. Two adult women sexually abused by their middle school teacher recovered the largest “per victim” settlement in the nation: $7 million each. Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 v. Moraga School District
- $10.8 million verdict. A boy was sexually abused by his teacher off school premises. Despite an anonymous warning sent to the Bonita Unified School District about other inappropriate behavior, the teacher was allowed to stay.
- $8.05 million verdict. A 14-year-old girl was manipulated into engaging in a sexual relationship with her eighth-grade teacher. The Pomona Unified School District was held liable for its negligent supervision of both the teacher and the student.
Holding school districts liable
If your child has been sexually abused by his or her teacher, there could be multiple parties who are liable for damages. The school district, the school administrators, and other school personnel may all be held to account for what was allowed to happen to your child.
Understand that a civil case is very different from a criminal case, and recent changes in the law regarding time lines may not help you. It is imperative that you contact a Los Angeles sexual abuse attorney as soon as you can, to ensure that your child’s rights are upheld.
- Sexual Abuse Committed by Another Student
- Sexual Abuse Committed by Coaches
- Time Limits to File Lawsuits
- Child Molestation and Religious Leaders
- Schools and Youth Organizations
- Former Student Sues Portsmouth Abbey Alleging Sex Abuse
- Speaking Out on Campus Sexual Assault – “Voices of Brown”
Talk to a professional Los Angeles student abuse lawyer today
At Taylor & Ring, our Southern California child sexual abuse attorneys understand how traumatic sexual abuse in school is for both the student and his or her family. Our caring and compassionate lawyers will work with you to aggressively defend your family’s rights. We take the time to learn the facts of your case and provide effective professional representation. If you believe your child is the victim of sexual abuse by a teacher, call us at 310-776-6390 or complete our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.
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