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Are Employers Responsible for Sexual Assault of a Minor by a Teacher?

Many of the most emotionally difficult cases to handle involve a minor who has been sexually assaulted by a teacher, priest, or authority figure. The pain a child and their family must endure can last a lifetime, usually inflicted by an individual they trust. These inexcusable and horrific acts are committed by authority figures you place your faith in to watch over, guide, and teach your child. Sadly, news stories are littered with examples of people being criminally charged with the sexual assault of minors, such as teachers taking advantage of their position of authority. These actions are not limited to male teachers only, as there are hundreds of cases involving female teachers also committing acts of sexual assault. As with the Pennsylvania church scandal, our eyes have been opened to sexual misconduct all across the United States.

As reported on FoxNews.com, a teacher in Wisconsin was convicted of sexually molesting a child over a two year period in 2017 and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in jail. As noted in the story, the presiding Judge told the Defendant, "Parents send their most precious gifts, our children, to school to be nurtured and educated in a safe environment," Judge Jeffrey Wagner said, "You violated that."  

A story appearing in The Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed that a female teacher in Pennsylvania plead guilty to sexual assault in her relationship with a female student.  These crimes against students are not limited to any race, gender, religion, or economic background. While there is no question the offending party will be criminally prosecuted for their acts, the civil legal question becomes whether the school, or appropriate school board, can be held liable suit for monetary damages for the actions of the employee.

The right for a parent to sue on behalf of their child is a difficult and complex legal matter, as each case will present completely different facts and sets of questions. Generally speaking, to hold the school liable for the acts of the teacher, you must be able to show that the school knew, or should have reasonably known, about the offending actions and did little to stop or discourage said conduct.  

The next option is to possibly file suit against the school for the negligent hiring of the teacher and for negligent supervision. If your attorney can prove that the offending teacher or authority figure had a prior history of misconduct, then the school could possibly be held responsible in civil court.  

If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse or harassment, please contact The Chiozza Law Firm or call (901) 526-9494 to schedule a private case evaluation. You may also email Brian Chiozza for immediate assistance. There is no charge for a case evaluation, and we always ensure that your conversations with an attorney, even if you don’t choose our firm as your legal representative, will remain confidential. The victims of sexual abuse and harassment need and deserve a strong legal voice. We are humbled that so many have chosen The Chiozza Law Firm to be their guiding legal representative.

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Posted by Brian Chiozza at 9:17 AM
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