Yakima Sex Abuse Lawyers
As parents, we send our children to school every day trusting that teachers will protect our loved ones from harm. Most educators are dedicated, caring professionals who wouldn’t dream of hurting a child. But it’s easy to forget that sexual predators often hide in plain sight, and are drawn to professions with access to children. Sexual predators may exist as teachers, coaches or mentors, including those in religious organizations like church youth groups, or youth service groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America.
A sexual abuse case filed against a school district by the legal team of Abeyta Nelson Injury Law was recently featured in local news outlets. Our child sexual abuse lawyers represented victims of the criminal case in which a former teacher was convicted of victimizing several of his students at a local high school. Sadly, this type of abuse is increasingly common.
Reports indicate a child is almost 100 times more likely to be abused by an educator than a church pastor. According to the 2017 report called “A Case Study of K-12 School Employee Sexual Misconduct,” 10% of K-12 US students will experience sexual misconduct by a school employee by the time they graduate from high school. This includes students who had encountered sexual acts, sexual violence or sexual misconduct by an adult at school, such as being shown pornography or being subjected to sexually explicit language or exhibitionism.
To prevent this type of abuse, it is critical to know the warning signs. In a 2013 article titled “Know the Warning Signs of Educator Sexual Misconduct,” Carol Shakeshaft discusses two predominant types of sex abuse predators in schools: the “fixated abuser” and the “opportunistic abuser.”
The Fixated Abuser
The fixated abuser is considered an excellent, highly respected teacher in the community. They will identify a student who may need extra help, and ask the student to stay with them after school. They may begin taking a child victim to extracurricular activities – such as a ball game – outside of school hours. Fixated abusers begin abusing a child once they feel safe and trusted by their victims. Because they are well-liked and respected, this kind of child sex abuse can go undetected for a long time.
The Opportunistic Abuser
The majority of students are victimized by an opportunistic abuser. These are adults who take sexual advantage of a situation, but who aren’t exclusively attracted to children or teenagers. The opportunistic abuser is typically emotionally arrested with boundary and judgment problems. They tend to spend a lot of time around groups of students and trying to blend in as the “cool” teacher or group leader. They make sexually inappropriate comments, and often have inappropriately personal conversations with students.
Obviously not all well-liked and “cool” teachers are sexual predators. But, it’s important to know patterns and to trust your gut. As a parent, teacher, or staff member, if you are concerned that something is amiss, it’s imperative you say something.
In addition to knowing the patterns of typical abusers, it’s equally important that our schools have strong policies defining sexual misconduct and directing what behaviors should be reported. Teachers and staff should be trained in environmental monitoring. As an example, any before or after school tutoring should occur in a public and supervised location, not a closed classroom. As stated by Ms. Shakeshaft, “[safe] schools are places where administrators and teachers know what is happening in real-time in the next classroom, down the hall, and before/after school.” Students and parents should also receive ongoing training defining appropriate behaviors.
As a parent, be sure you have general information and a basic understanding of the policies in place at your child’s school. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what training the staff and students receive, and push for change if you feel it’s inadequate.
Sexual abuse, sexual assault, or harassment by a trusted adult has serious effects on a child’s emotional security and development and can cause long-term emotional distress. In general, it is well-documented that victims of sexual abuse are more likely than non-victims to have problems with adult relationships, experience drug or alcohol abuse, increased risk of suicide or other self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder, and health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
It can take years after childhood sexual abuse or molestation for a victim to recognize the lifelong impact the abuse had on their wellbeing. In recognizing this reality, Washington law extends the statute of limitations for injuries caused by childhood sexual abuse beyond the usual three years. RCW 4.16.340 allows a claim for physical childhood sexual abuse to be brought within three years of the time the survivor of sexual abuse discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the abuser. This allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring a civil claim for damages years – even decades—after the abuse occurred.
If you, a family member, or a loved one were a victim of sexual abuse, call the personal injury attorneys at Abeyta Nelson Injury Law. When you call our law firm, you’ll have a free case evaluation with a real person who cares about what you’ve been through, with experience handling sex abuse cases. Most importantly, our attorneys and staff are trained to discuss sensitive topics, with compassion, in a confidential consultation.
If our attorneys determine you have a case, our sexual abuse attorneys will take legal action and put our 100 years of combined expertise to work for you. There is never a charge to discuss your sexual abuse claim with us, and never a fee unless we win your case. We are ready to provide legal advice to you today through our contact form.