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NYC School Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Advocacy Lawyers for Child Victims of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is an unconscionable reality in schools across New York City and the country. According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Education, more than 14,900 incidents of sexual violence occurred in a two-year period (2017-2018.) That number was up 55% from the previous two-year period.

This increase in sexual assaults in our nation’s schools should be concerning to parents, educators, and the community at large. New York attorneys with Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman believe change is possible only when perpetrators are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Laws in the state have recently changed, such as the Child Victims Act, which allows survivors of school sex abuse to file civil lawsuits and recover damages for crimes that happened years ago, depending on when the abuse occurred. Compensation may also be available for recent or current sexual abuse cases as well.

A confidential, no-obligation case consultation with a NYC child sexual abuse lawyer is the first step toward reaching justice in the civil court system. Contact our firm today.

What Is Considered Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is any sexual activity involving a child under the age of 17. A child does not have the legal ability to consent to sex. It can take many forms:

  • Assault: any type of nonconsensual sexual contact or activity
  • Coercion: pressuring, threatening, tricking, or manipulating someone into having sexual contact
  • Exhibitionism: exposing one’s private areas to a minor for sexual gratification
  • Fondling: molestation by touching or caressing
  • Harassment: any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature
  • Leering or sexual comments
  • Intercourse
  • Molestation
  • Pornography: intentionally exposing a child to pornographic images
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Sex trafficking: recruiting, harboring, and/or transporting individuals for the purposes of commercial sex acts
  • Soliciting, producing, or sharing sexual images involving children

Who Perpetrates Child Sexual Abuse?

Abusers are often those adults that children are supposed to trust, such as teachers, coaches, school employees, or employees at after-school programs, recreation centers, daycares and camps.

It’s also possible for fellow students and teammates, or their siblings or parents, to perpetrate child sexual abuse.

According to research from non-profit organization Darkness to Light, 9 out of 10 child sexual abuse victims know their abusers. Only 10% of victims are abused by a stranger. Approximately 70% of children are abused by someone outside the family.

We can assist you in filing a claim against the following entities, among others:

  • New York City public schools
  • New York City residential schools for disabled students
  • Religious schools run by various religious organizations
  • Private day or boarding schools

Additionally, our firm accepts cases involving the following acts and more:

  • Discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual abuse of a student by teachers or administration
  • Peer-to-peer sexual harassment and physical abuse
  • Peer-to-peer bullying which becomes physically or sexually abusive

The school sexual abuse lawyers at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP will act with the utmost discretion and confidentiality. We have years of experience helping injured children. When working with minor clients, we try to resolve matters without litigation, and we make sure their financial recovery is protected for their best interests.

Call (212) 684-1880 or contact us online for a completely free and private consultation. There are no attorneys’ fees unless we win your case.

What Are Possible Signs of Child Sexual Abuse?

Unfortunately, many children do not tell a trusted adult about the sexual assault because of the confusion and shame they experience or because the perpetrator manipulated the child into secrecy. Children need to know what happened to them is not their fault. Every adult should know the signs of possible sexual abuse in children, so they can intervene and seek help.

Abuse manifests in three primary ways:

  • Emotionally: Anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, shame, and trouble sleeping and eating may be signs that something is going on.
  • Behaviorally: Sexual abuse can manifest as changes in eating, sleeping, hobbies, friendships and/or age-inappropriate behaviors.
  • Physically: Physical signs of abuse may include upper thigh bruising, difficulty walking, bloody undergarments, and genital injuries.

This list is far from exhaustive. Every child is unique and processes trauma in their own way. In general, adults should look into any unusual changes that may be a sign of concern.

Civil Lawsuits for NYC School Sexual Abuse

Civil lawsuits represent the only means by which victims of school sexual abuse and their families can get compensation for the harm that was done to them. Plaintiffs in these civil court cases can pursue monetary damages not only from the abuser but also from the school or organization the abuser was connected to.

Damages are calculated based on all the ways child sexual abuse has impacted your life. They may include:

  • Lost wages for victims who are unable to work
  • Emotional anguish and mental health counseling
  • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • Loss of love, companionship and enjoyment of life
  • Medical costs related to the abuse
  • Courts and attorneys’ fees

In cases of egregious abuse, punitive damages may also be awarded. A punitive damage award is meant to punish defendants who have acted with extreme negligence or malice. Punitive damages are also intended to deter the defendant and others from engaging in the same type of misconduct going forward.

The criminal justice system is separate and distinct from the civil court system. Criminal prosecutions are brought by law enforcement and are the means by which perpetrators can be convicted and punished with jail time and a permanent record.

As soon as you suspect child sexual abuse, report it to the proper authorities.

Pursuing Justice for Sexual Abuse in NY Civil Courts

School sexual abuse lawyers at the firm of Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP have years of experience advocating for abuse survivors and seeking the justice that is deserved.

We won’t back down against the New York City public schools, residential schools, religious schools and boarding schools that fail to protect our children.

While financial compensation cannot undo the trauma your child experienced, it is a powerful way to hold perpetrators accountable. It also eases the financial burden of therapy and medical care, so you can focus on healing and moving forward as a family.

Who Is Liable for School Sexual Abuse?

Liability starts with the abuser himself or herself. You can sue them directly in civil court.

Schools can also be held liable for:

  • Sexual assault committed by their employees or on their premises
  • Failing to act on reports of sexual abuse
  • Allowing a known abuser to come into contact with children

It is also possible to sue school districts that fail to screen and supervise administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, and students. This includes all public, parochial, and boarding schools across the New York metropolitan area and the nation.

Can I Sue the School If the Abuse Happened Out of School?

Yes. In fact, child sexual abuse predators often wait to act until they are away from school to abuse minors because of the lack of supervision. Outside-of-school events can include field trips, sports games, concerts, academic competitions and more.

If a school employee abuses a child in any setting, you can sue the school for their employee’s bad act.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. Once that deadline expires, the right to sue is lost. These time limits can be especially critical to understand in cases of child sex abuse because it often takes many years for victims to gain the courage to come forward.

Fortunately, New York State has some of the most generous statutes of limitations in the nation for sexual abuse civil lawsuits.

Here are two key laws that give school sex abuse survivors in New York more time to pursue justice.

Child Victims Act

The Child Victims Act (CVA) extends the statute of limitations for criminal and civil child sex abuse cases. The CVA gives survivors up to the age of 55 to file a civil claim for monetary damages. The law also removes a prior “notice of claim” requirement, which opens the door for victims to sue public and private institutions involved in their abuse. Victims can file criminal charges up to the age of 28.

Adult Survivors Act

Passed in May 2022, the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) temporarily created a temporary one-year window allowing plaintiffs to file civil child sexual abuse claims that would otherwise be ineligible because of the statute of limitations.

Cases related to abuse that happened when plaintiffs were under 18 are given preferential treatment under the ASA. Because this lookback window closes on November 24, 2023, victims considering civil action should contact our sexual abuse litigation department as soon as possible. Delays can jeopardize your case and your right to sue.

Resources for Sexual Abuse Survivors

It’s normal to feel guilt, sadness, and rage if you discover your child is a victim of sexual abuse. You may not know where to turn or how to help them. Here are some resources to help you and your child navigate this challenging time and get the help you deserve:

How We Can Help

Here’s how our team of NYC school sexual abuse attorneys can help:

  • Free consultation: If you or a family member has been sexually abused in school and/or by a school employee, we invite you to contact us at no cost to discuss your legal rights. We will listen with compassion and offer you the benefit of our years of experience and insight to decide on the best next steps for you and your loved ones. We will outline the legal process, discuss your options and give you an honest assessment of the strength of your case.
  • Get the proof: If you enlist our services, our attorneys will investigate every aspect of your case and gather the necessary evidence to prove that the abuse took place and to hold the abusers and those that enabled them or covered it up fully accountable for their egregious acts.
  • Build a powerful case: We use photos, camera footage, digital communications, medical records, witness accounts and more to build the most compelling case possible.
  • Handle all legal matters: We take the burden of legal matters off your shoulders so that you can focus on recovery. Our team handles all documentation, filing deadlines and other aspects of the lawsuit, all while keeping you updated on our progress every step of the way. We are committed to 100% transparency when it comes to communicating with you and getting your input at every stage.
  • Negotiate a settlement on your behalf: We represent you in settlement negotiations with the defendants and their insurers. When you have a respected firm like ours working on your behalf, it can help expedite a favorable outcome because the other side’s attorneys know we will not be satisfied with anything less than full and fair compensation. We want to send a strong message that child sexual abuse will not be tolerated.

Contact Us to Learn Your Rights

School sexual abuse cases are especially difficult because of the trauma inflicted upon the child and their loved ones. Many of our attorneys and support staff are parents, too. That is why we handle your case with care, compassion, and discretion.

Your child’s best interests are always our top priority. We work diligently to get justice on their behalf and help them along their healing journey. We have 50 years of experience and more than $2 billion in recoveries for clients just like you.

Call or connect online to schedule your free case review with a NYC Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer in our New York City location. We represent clients across NYC, New York State, and Maryland.

Remember: If you have more questions or need our help with your case, then we are always ready to accept your call. Dial (212) 684-1880 to schedule a free consultation.