Someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in the United States, amounting to more than 320,000 cases of sexual assault each year, with most of the victims being children. Many cases of sexual abuse are never reported to authorities and many others are reported only years after the incidents. Children often avoid telling about abuse until they are adults -- if ever -- because they are afraid of a negative reaction from relatives or authorities or, worse, of being harmed further by their abusers.
In the most recent and glaring case, a Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed more than 1,000 cases of child sexual assault by some 300 "predator" Catholic priests and the alleged coverup by church hierarchy in Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg and Scranton. Kline & Specter, PC, and others had filed suit with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to make the report public. (Article coming) The law firm has had many highly publicized successes in lawsuits against sexual abusers, including, in 2018, the largest-ever settlement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in a case involving the victimization of a young student over several years.
If you or a loved one was the victim of sexual abuse, Kline & Specter, with more than 40 experienced attorneys, five of whom are also medical doctors, handles sexual abuse cases with compassion, confidentiality and expertise. It is critical to contact an attorney soon in cases involving sexual abuse because of statutes of limitations, which differ in various states. (more information below).
Types of Sexual Violence
There are many types of sexual violence. These include:
- Sexual abuse of children
- Sexual assault
- Intimate partner sexual abuse
These types of sexual abuse may occur in:
- Public or private elementary, middle, and high schools
- Daycare centers
- Religious institutions
- Foster and group homes
- Clubs, such as the Boy Scouts
- Shelter homes
- Residential treatment facilities
Compassionate Sexual Abuse Lawyers with Decades of Experience
Kline & Specter has litigated many sexual abuse cases, including that of “Victim No. 5,” who was represented by Tom Kline in the infamous Jerry Sandusky scandal that resulted in Penn State agreeing to pay $60 million to all the victims involved in the litigation. (View coverage)
In another case, Kline along with Nadeem Bezar and Emily Marks, sex abuse lawyers who have many years of experience with sexual abuse litigation, in March 2017 filed the first civil suit under a Pennsylvania human trafficking statute. The suit was filed against a motel owner and manager on behalf of a teenage girl who was enslaved and forced to perform sexual acts over nearly two years. (News coverage)
The firm's sex abuse attorneys won a $5.35 million verdict in 2016 against Presbyterian Children’s Village for twice placing a young girl in a temporary foster home where she was sexually molested. (Read the article)
Kline & Specter also filed suit on behalf of a 29-year-old former student of the Solebury School in Bucks County who claimed she was sexually abused by her gym teacher between 2003 and 2005. The suit followed a grand jury report detailing instances of sexual abuse at the school over a 50-year period, but our client is the only one whose case fell within the statute of limitations. (Learn more)
Adults are also victims of sexual abuse. In one case, correction officers were charged with sexually abusing female inmates at a county prison in Scranton, Pa. The seven officers used their positions of power to force the prisoners into sexual acts, officials alleged. (Read article)
Statutes of Limitations in Sex Abuse Lawsuits
It is important to contact a sex abuse attorney soon in cases against a sexual abuser or third party, such as a school or church, because states have different statutes of limitations for civil actions. Pennsylvania allows victims to file such lawsuits until age 30, while New Jersey allows only two years from “reasonable discovery” of harm. Delaware has removed any limitation in sexual abuse cases, while New York allows suits to be filed until age 23 against an abuser and 21 against a third party. See a list of all state statutes compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Experienced Legal Representation You Can Trust
Among other Kline & Specter sexual abuse lawsuits are:
- In the highly publicized “House of Horrors” case, Shanin Specter, Dominic Guerrini and Tracie Palmer sued a social services provider, child advocates, and the City of Philadelphia, as responsible for 10 years of torture endured by a young girl after she was placed under the care of an abusive aunt who had been previously convicted of third-degree murder. The case was settled in 2015 for $3.5 million. (News coverage)
- Kline reached a settlement of up to $3.8 million against a Pennsylvania psychotherapist who abused and photographed his teenage patient. In addition to monetary compensation, the therapist was also forced to make a lengthy public apology and agreed never to practice again.
- Specter represented a 12-year-old boy who was assaulted at a charter school. The case resulted in a $2 million settlement.
- David Inscho represented a young man who was repeatedly abused by his mentor through a local organization. Although criminal prosecution was barred because the events took place years earlier, Inscho was able to investigate the case through the civil justice system and obtain a significant monetary recovery for the victim.
In recent sexual abuse cases, the firm achieved:
- The largest-ever settlement against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in a child sexual abuse case for the family of a former altar boy who suffered years of abuse by a serial pedophile priest in Philadelphia. The victim, tormented for years over his experience, died over a drug overdose at the age of 26. The exact monetary settlement was confidential.
- A $7 million settlement against a child welfare agency in the highly publicized death of a four-year-old girl who was accidentally shot by her father. An official investigation into the April 2016 shooting reportedly found that the child and six siblings lived in squalid conditions in their Philadelphia home.
- A $5 million settlement with two child placement agencies over a 2016 incident in which a 10-year-old boy was neglected to the point at which he died due to an intestinal blockage.
Sex Abuse Victim Statistics
Experts agree that the prevalence of child sexual abuse is hard to accurately determine because it is vastly underreported to authorities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), only about 30 percent of all sexual assault cases are reported. In 2012, 62,939 cases of child sexual abuse were reported.
Disclosures of sexual abuse typically unfold gradually and can often be presented as a series of hints by victims to someone they trust. When children do disclose, it is frequently to a parent, sibling, friend or sometimes a teacher. Very few actually disclose sexual abuse to authorities or professionals other than teachers, according to NSOPW. It is estimated that 30 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members, 10 percent are strangers to the child, and 60 percent are known to the child but are not family members, such as family friends, babysitters, neighbors, and teachers.
According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds in this country, with many of the victims being children. Overall, 17 percent of boys and 25 percent of girls are sexually abused before the age of 18, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). RAINN notes that nearly 40 percent of victims experience later relationship issues with family and friends as well as with co-workers. The likelihood that a person suffers depressive or suicidal thoughts also greatly increases after experiencing sexual abuse.
Although nothing can make up for the pain endured by sexual abuse victims, bringing their perpetrators to justice can help begin the healing process and ensure that others are not made to suffer at their hands.
Kline & Specter news on sexual abuse:
Foster kid placed in West Philly 'house of horrors' wins $11M in lawsuit, Philadelphia Metro, 11/20/17
Adoption Agency Hit With $11M Verdict in Child Abuse Lawsuit, The Legal Intelligencer, 11/17/17
Nadeem Bezar Comments On Human Trafficking Case, Canada Radio, 3/24/17
Motel Turned Blind Eye To Child Sex Traffickers For Profit, Suit Claims, The Huffington Post, 3/14/17
Forced to have sex with 1,000 men, a girl is now suing the motel that she says let it happen, The Washington Post, 3/14/17
Teen ‘sex slave’ sues motel where alleged abuse took place, New York Post, 3/14/17
Sex trafficking victim sues U.S. motel in landmark case, Thomson Reuters, 3/15/17
Philly motel sued in first reported human-trafficking lawsuit under Pa. statute, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/10/17
Jury awards $5.35M to girl placed in abusive foster home, Metro, 11/4/16
Foster case agency hit with $5M verdict over sex abuse, The Legal Intelligencer, 10/27/16