Overhead view of sad young girl (age 9-10) covering her face and crying in school yard.

Reports of sexual abuse and assault are alarmingly prevalent in educational settings. Recent polls show that over 10 percent of both male and female students in undergraduate programs have experienced some form of sexual violence through physical force or incapacitation.

But it’s not just college campuses where our youth are vulnerable to harm. Sexual abuse of students in K-12 schools is vastly under-reported and just as big of a problem. According to an in-depth investigation by the Associated Press, there were some 17,000 official reports of student sexual assault in public K-12 settings over a 4-year period. Unfortunately, there is no legislation forcing elementary and secondary institutions in Texas to track or even disclose reports of sexual assault.

Schools, colleges, and universities need to provide safe learning environments. When teachers, school employees, administrative staff, and others in positions of authority engage in sexual misconduct with students, victims have the right to take legal action.

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Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse in Schools

Civil actions based on student sexual abuse in educational settings may be filed against the abuser and the individuals or institutions that facilitated it. At Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, a Dallas sexual abuse victim lawyer is standing by, ready to help survivors achieve justice and fair reparations for their suffering.

We understand the delicate nature of these types of cases and are sensitive to the emotional and psychological trauma that victims face. A successful lawsuit can render not only justice but provide the monetary resources essential for recovery.

Whether your child experienced sexual assault on the school bus, in the classroom, or on campus, you can count on a Dallas personal injury lawyer for unwavering advocacy. We handle cases involving student sexual violence and abuse in public and private educational institutions throughout North Texas, and collaborate with industry experts, including counselors and medical professionals.

Prep School Sexual Assault

Several private boarding schools have made headlines for incidents of non-consensual sexual encounters among students– particularly between upperclassmen and lower.  In some educational settings, the so-called “senior salute” tradition is still in practice. According to survivors, this decades-old ritual is essentially a competition among upperclassmen to have sex with as many younger students as possible. In some cases, these sexual encounters become violent, resulting in both physical and emotional injuries.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that prep school sexual assault involves more than student-on-student predation. Molestation, rape, and sexual assault from faculty and staff are also grounds for legal recourse.

Rest assured that we handle all cases with total discretion and are wholly committed to sensitive, client-centered support. Align yourself with a Dallas school sexual abuse lawyer who has the knowledge, skills, and resources to fight for your rights and the money damages to which you are entitled.

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Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse and Grooming in Schools

Many sexual abusers rely on grooming behaviors to gain access to and lower the resistance of young victims. It often includes manipulation to build trust and emotional connection with the victim and can also involve reducing trust between the victim and parents or other trusted adults.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), grooming can take many forms but often involves certain features, including:

  • Selecting a vulnerable victim
  • Physically or emotionally separating the victim from those who offer protection
  • Sharing secrets or using other forms of manipulation to build a sense of trust between victim and abuser
  • Slowly introducing the victim to sexual topics through topics and/or actions that escalate from harmless to inappropriate – for example, a predator may begin with hugging and progress to massages
  • Attempting to normalize behavior

Teen and child sexual abusers also gain access to students by gaining the trust of the victim’s family. If you notice an adult at your child’s school – no matter how trustworthy they may seem – is showing extra attention to a student, it may be completely innocent or it may be a warning sign. Speak with your child about appropriate boundaries and what to do if an adult is overstepping them.

Who Is Liable for Sexual Assault in Schools?

In Texas, an employer can be liable for the wrongdoing of its employees under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior. When a teacher, administrator, or another employer commits sexual abuse, the school or organization may be vicariously liable under this doctrine.

In recent years, there has been a greater acknowledgment that schools and other organizations may be not just vicariously liable for someone else’s actions but also liable for their own practices. Unfortunately, many institutions have a history of enabling or covering up abuse. If you or a child you know has been the victim of sexual abuse, a Dallas school sexual abuse lawyer will review the detailed facts to determine who may be liable for the misconduct.

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Legal Recourse for Sexual Abuse & Misconduct in Educational Settings

Sexual abuse and violence in schools can be a singular event or take place over many months and years. When it comes to proving public school sexual abuse committed by teachers, staff, coaches, or other students, you need a law firm that boasts a proven track record of results.

We have secured more than $100 million in settlements and court awards, and are ready to fight for you in cases involving:

  • Inappropriate sexual contact which can include groping or touching another person in a sexual manner without their explicit consent
  • Sexual abuse committed by school staff, coaches, teachers, professors, coaches, and other students
  • Rape and attempted rape

Statute of Limitations for School Sexual Abuse

Texas law limits how long survivors of childhood sexual abuse have to file a lawsuit for their personal injuries. Under changes that became effective in 2019, minors who have been abused have 30 years (increased from 15 years) from their 18th birthday to file a civil lawsuit. The extended statute of limitations applies to lawsuits against both the individual abusers and the organizations that enabled them

The longer statute of limitations may make it feel like there is no rush to pursue a claim. However, it is important to speak with a qualified North Texas lawyer to discuss your case as soon as possible for a few reasons:

  • Taking action sooner rather than later allows for a more complete investigation and a stronger lawsuit.
  • The longer, more recent statute of limitations is not retroactive – if the abuse occurred before it was enacted, a shorter deadline will apply.
  • Depending on the facts, a different statute of limitations may apply.
  • Failing to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires  – even when it is due to an honest mistake – can strip a victim of their right to pursue compensation.

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Do You Have a Student Sexual Assault Case?

Victims of sexual abuse in school settings are entitled to sue not only their perpetrators, but any entity, business, or administration that indirectly caused or contributed to their abuse. The sexual assault lawyers at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, provide sound legal guidance in civil actions that seek compensation for the economic and less tangible losses sustained by victims.

Legal compensation may include damages for:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Sexual abuse counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

Put a Compassionate Advocate in Your Corner

If your child experienced campus sexual assault or another form of sexual abuse in school, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, for a confidential consultation, free of charge. We have the expertise and legal savvy to litigate complex claims arising from student sexual assault, which aims to hold both abusers and their enablers liable in a court of law. 

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