Abuse and Sexual Assault
Public schools are foundational to our communities, offering educational opportunities to a diverse range of students in California. These institutions are meant to be safe havens for learning and personal growth. However, even with state and federal regulations, students at these schools can become victims of sexual abuse.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, our commitment is to confront and address sexual abuse in public schools. We stand firm in our resolve to prevent these institutions from concealing allegations of abuse and neglecting the well-being of their students. We know the complications that often arise when holding public school entities accountable, and we fight back to help our clients obtain the justice they deserve.We Stand Against Public School Sexual Abuse
In the Bay Area, public schools often lack sufficient policies to protect children from sexual predators. When they fail to keep students safe, we fight back.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, our commitment to sexual abuse survivors and families extends beyond the courtroom. We recognize that effectively combating sexual abuse in public schools requires not only addressing individual cases but also advocating for broad systemic change. Our firm has been at the forefront of pushing for enhanced child protection measures in public schools across the Bay Area and throughout California.
Our experienced team has successfully recovered millions for survivors in various sexual abuse cases against public school districts in California, including:
Our firm's efforts have led to tangible changes in many public schools. Public school administrators are increasingly recognizing the importance of these measures and are implementing more rigorous safeguards to protect their students. This shift towards better protection addresses the immediate need to keep children safe and helps foster a more secure and trusting educational environment for all.
In March 2022, Attorney Lauren Cerri accomplished a notable achievement when a Santa Clara County jury delivered a landmark sexual abuse verdict of $102.5 million against the Union School District in San Jose. This case was centered around two former students who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their music teacher. Of this substantial sum, $65 million was awarded to the client represented by Ms. Cerri. The jury assigned 80% of the fault to the school district. This verdict, particularly the portion awarded to Ms. Cerri’s client, is recognized as one of the largest individual plaintiff judgments in a sexual abuse case against a school district in the state of California.How Does Sexual Abuse in Public Schools Occur?
In public schools, sexual abuse often begins subtly - it's called the grooming process. It might start with a teacher showing extra attention to a student, a coach who seems overly dedicated, or a peer who appears exceptionally keen on spending time with your child. This gradual build-up of trust and confidence is a critical part of what is known as the grooming process.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, grooming starts by identifying potential victims, then methodically working to gain their trust and break down their defenses. This tactic is not only directed at young victims but also at adult caregivers, including parents and other professionals involved in youth care, as well as the broader community. The grooming process enables the abuser to gain access to the student and establish a secretive relationship, significantly reducing the chances of the abuse being discovered.
Grooming is fundamentally about exerting control – control over the child and the dynamics of the relationship. Rooted in fear and a desire for power, sexual abuse, like all forms of sexual assault, is an expression of dominance.
Ultimately, sexual abuse occurs in public schools because these schools lack comprehensive policies for preventing, identifying, and responding to abuse. This includes insufficient background checks for staff, lack of clear reporting channels, and inadequate training for staff and students on abuse and harassment.
Public schools sometimes fail to take appropriate action when abuse is reported. This can include not believing victims, inadequately investigating claims, or protecting the abuser due to their status within the institution.Mandatory Reporting in Public Schools
In California, the responsibilities of school staff in public institutions regarding child abuse are clearly defined under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA). This act requires educators and other school staff to report any suspected cases of child abuse, which includes sexual abuse. The obligation to report is not just a moral duty but a legal requirement.
Failure to comply with CANRA can result in significant legal consequences. This includes potential criminal charges for those who knowingly fail to report suspected abuse. The rationale behind this mandate is clear: school personnel are often in a prime position to notice signs of abuse due to their close and regular contact with students. By requiring mandatory reporting, the law aims to ensure that suspicions of abuse are promptly and properly addressed, thereby safeguarding the welfare of children.Title IX and Public Schools
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, including abuse and molestation, in educational settings. While Title IX is often associated with higher education institutions, its protections also extend to public schools.
When a Title IX violation is reported, schools must address it promptly and equitably. This involves conducting a fair and impartial investigation and taking appropriate action based on the findings.
Schools must also take proactive steps to prevent sexual abuse. This includes establishing clear policies, providing training and education, and creating a school environment that discourages such behaviors.Pursuing Justice Through Civil Lawsuits
Survivors of sexual abuse in public schools have the fundamental right to pursue justice and hold those responsible accountable. This pursuit is not just about seeking compensation; it's a crucial step toward healing and societal transformation. Civil lawsuits offer a powerful avenue for survivors to voice their experiences and challenge the public school systems that failed to protect them.
At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, we are deeply committed to supporting survivors through every step of the legal process. We understand that each survivor's journey is unique. Our legal team offers personalized guidance, ensuring survivors are fully informed about their rights and the legal options available.
The legal landscape surrounding public school sexual abuse cases can be complex. Our experience fighting against public school systems in California enables us to navigate these complexities effectively, addressing challenges and overcoming obstacles that may arise during the legal proceedings.
While no amount of financial compensation can undo the harm suffered, it can provide vital support for the healing process. Our sexual abuse attorneys secure comprehensive compensation for survivors, covering aspects like medical expenses, therapy costs, pain and suffering, and any other damages resulting from the abuse.
We at Cerri, Boskovich & Allard stand with survivors, recognizing the courage it takes to come forward and seek justice. We are committed not just to winning cases but also to supporting our clients on their path toward healing and change. If you or a loved one has experienced sexual abuse in a public school setting, we encourage you to reach out for a confidential consultation to explore how we can assist you in this important journey toward justice.How Long Do I Have to File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
Under current California law, survivors of sexual abuse have until the age of 40 to initiate a civil lawsuit. This extended timeframe is particularly significant as it recognizes that it can take many years for survivors to process their trauma and decide to take legal action.
In addition to the age-based deadline, California law also allows survivors to file a lawsuit within five years of the date when they discovered or reasonably should have discovered, that the abuse caused them harm. This "discovery rule" is crucial because the psychological effects of abuse might not be immediately apparent to the survivor.
The statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases in California is constantly changing and expanding to help sexual abuse victims, and families obtain justice against their abusers. To determine if you have a case, call our law firm immediately. Even if it has been decades, we can work with you to obtain justice.How Common is Sexual Abuse in California Public Schools?
In a groundbreaking development in California, former Bay Area students have filed sexual abuse lawsuits against their former educators and school administrators. These lawsuits stem from allegations of rape and sexual abuse during their time in school, coupled with claims that the school authorities failed to implement necessary protective measures.
These legal actions signify a collective pursuit of justice for survivors of child sexual assault, including many who are now significantly older. For some of these individuals, understanding or acknowledging the abuse they endured during their youth was challenging. Others report that their attempts or their parents' efforts to report the abuse to the schools were disregarded at the time.
A striking revelation has been the identification of 51 Bay Area schools currently embroiled in sexual abuse cases. These former students have accused school authorities of either neglecting or mishandling complaints regarding educators sexually abusing them. In certain instances, this alleged negligence enabled the continuation of abuse towards them or other students. Disturbingly, in at least two instances where investigations were conducted, evidence of inappropriate conduct by the accused with students was found, yet the individuals were still permitted to work with children, according to the lawsuits.
If you’re a survivor of sexual abuse in a public school in California, please know that you are not alone. You can hold your abuser and the institution accountable - it’s not too late for many survivors. Call us today to learn more about the legal options available to you.Contact Our Sexual Abuse Attorneys
If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual abuse in a public school, we are here to support you. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, we stand with survivors, recognizing the courage it takes to come forward and seek justice. We are committed not just to winning cases but also to supporting our clients on their path toward healing and change.
Let us help you in this journey. Contact Cerri, Boskovich & Allard today for a confidential consultation. Together, we can explore your options, build a strong case, and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the justice and support you rightfully deserve.