Will Be Heard
STEVE CRANE JR IS THE ATTORNEY THAT GETS YOU justice for sexual abuse in school.
SEXUAL ABUSE IN SCHOOL
STEVE CRANE SECURES JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE.
K-12 schooling is supposed to be a safe place. A child should be able to regard school as their safe haven no matter what circumstance they come from. A place where they can learn and grow into productive young adults. Sexual contact between a teacher or school employee and a child is never appropriate.
Sadly, sexual contact and abuse occur in K-12. Child abusers are able to attain positions of trust and power while having access to minors. A recent year-long USA Today investigation showed some teachers are able to continue in classrooms even after being fired or having their credentials suspended or revoked, due to a faulty inter-state tracking system. Steve Reilly, “Broken discipline tracking systems let teachers flee troubled pasts.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that sexual abuse in K-12 affects an estimated 9.6 percent of students. Unbelievably, this means nearly one in 10 are subjected to sexual misconduct by teachers, coaches, principals, bus drivers, and other personnel during their K-12 career.
If you suspect your child has been a victim of sexual abuse, you likely feel overwhelmed. You want to take immediate protective action. Exploring the full set of options available through criminal or civil litigation can be crucial in the process of moving forward. Steve Crane and Crane Law, a boutique law firm focusing on sexual abuse in Michigan, has the experience, expertise, and resources to help you.
Steve is relentless in his pursuit of being the survivor’s champion. Why? What lit this intense fire in him?
Early in his life, Steve witnessed pre-teens and teens being bullied, hazed, and attacked by other pre-teens and teens. The perpetrators attacked because they could. They had power and dominance, while the victims did not. For each attack, Steve stepped in and stopped it. Steve has always remained vigilant, highly insightful, compassionate, approachable, tolerant, and understanding of the pain endured by others.
Steve is personally and professionally driven to help victims of past and present sex abuse, bullying, hazing, and physical assaults to find safety, to recover, and put their lives back together. He is truly a comforting light – assuring protection, and safety in addition to winning the financial compensation his clients deserve for their pain and loss.
If you are a victim or survivor of sexual abuse, you should contact experienced and respected attorney Steve Crane. He and his team can assess the facts of your case and help you in a trusted, private and secure manner determine the best course of action to move forward.
To schedule a discrete and confidential consultation about your matter, email or call us at (833) 855-4400.
Sexual Abuse in School Quick Links
SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM OF SEXUAL ASSUALT AND ABUSE IN SCHOOL
In the US, there are more than 13,000 school districts. For all these districts there is no one unifying system to screen teachers. Every state applies different laws and regulations, which forms a national patchwork system of laws and regulations. This patchwork often contains flawed information which is haphazardly and inconsistently shared between states and school districts.
Reported sexual assaults other than rape increased significantly, from roughly 6,100 in the 2015-16 school year to roughly 7,100 in the 2017-18 school year.
The National Center for Educations Statistics’ (NCES) annual “Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools” report reveals 5.2% of the 2,762 K-12 schools completing the survey for 2017-18 reported at least one incident of sexual assault other than rape, compared with 3.4% in 2015-16.
The system fails to keep teachers with histories of serious misconduct out of classrooms and away from schoolchildren. It is so bad, some in Congress have taken notice.
POTENTIAL SEXUAL ABUSERS AT SCHOOLS
During the course of a school term, you child will likely come into contact with many different people. Schools and other academic institutions need to ensure that the following types of employees and independent contractors are safe to be around your children:
- Before or after-hours school personnel
- Classroom teachers
- Extracurricular advisors
- Janitors and maintenance crews
- Other parents
- Other students
- School bus drivers
- School librarians and nurses
- Visitors to the school
SEXUAL ASSAULT BY OTHER STUDENTS
Teenagers of dating age need to understand they always have the right to say no. They have the right to respond (through their parents, teachers, and school officials) to any sexual harassment, hazing, or threats that make them uncomfortable. Students have the right to attend school without threat of sexual exploitation by other students. Such exploitation can include, bullying social media posts, sexting or websites that reference their body or their sex in any way.
Sexual abuse and assault are not confined to teenagers. There are many cases of younger children and special needs children being violated, in part because they are less likely or able to speak up for themselves than older children. This is especially true in cases with children who are autistic or have special needs.
Many seniors in high school are technically adults. If they commit a sexual assault, the victim’s parents may be able to file a legal claim against them. Our sexual assault attorneys can answer any of your questions about these types of claims.
SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE INVOLVING SCHOOL COACHES
Sports, music, drama, dance, and arts coaches spend a lot of one-on-one time with children. This often fosters special, close relationships that are parental in nature, and akin to a mentor/mentee. However, these relationships also allow child sexual predators unfettered access to children and young adults. For example, Jerry Sandusky was a widely respected assistant football coach at Penn State. For more three decades, he was the go-to assistant of legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Sandusky used his position to prey “typically boys without a father living at home, when they were 8–12 years old.” Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert admitted to sexually abusing teenage boys during his time as a high school wrestling coach in a Chicago suburb before his career as an elected official. Both Sandusky and Hastert were convicted for their numerous sexual assaults against children under their care.
In many cases, victims of abuse will not come forward because they don’t want to let down their teammates. They don’t want to let down their schools. They may feel they will not be believed or will not have their confessions taken seriously. If your child is exhibiting signs of abuse or molestation, it is important to speak to him or her. If he or she won’t open up, you may consider sending your child to see a therapist.
SEXUAL ABUSE AND YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS
Schools can be held liable if the abuse happened while the perpetrator is working for a private organization, such as the Boy Scouts or a summer baseball league, which operates on school grounds. If your child is abused by a camp counselor or an employee or volunteer who runs an afterschool program, that school may also be liable for your child’s assault.
WARNING SIGNS OF SEXUAL ABUSE
When teachers, coaches, maintenance staff, or any school official or employee abuses your child, your child may internalize their anger and hurt instead of speaking out or asking for help. Knowing the signs of sexual abuse and molestation may be crucial to helping your child. The signs can vary depending on the age of the child and the specific circumstances of the abuse.
“Warning signs” may include:
- Signs of trauma to the genital area, such as unexplained bleeding, bruising, or blood on the sheets, underwear, or other clothing
- Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics
- Keeping secrets Not talking as much as usual
- Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers, especially if this is a new behavior
- Regressive behaviors or resuming behaviors they had grown out of, such as thumb sucking or bedwetting
- Overly compliant behavior
- Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
- Spending an unusual amount of time alone
- Trying to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe
- Change in eating habits
- Change in mood or personality, such as increased aggression
- Decrease in confidence or self-image
- Excessive worry or fearfulness
- Increase in unexplained health problems such as stomach aches and headaches
- Loss or decrease in interest in school, activities, and friends
- Nightmares or fear of being alone at night
- Self-harming behaviors
For more information on warning signs, see RAIIN https://www.rainn.org/articles/warning-signs-young-children.
SEX IN SCHOOL IS AGAINST FEDERAL & STATE LAW
Federal laws prohibiting sexual contact in schools include:
- Title IX and Sex Discrimination: Title IX, 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities.
- Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment: Parents may sue a school committee under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, on the basis that students are to be protected from harassment by other students or school personnel on the basis of their sex, gender, orientation, or identity.
- The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 (S. 537): Clarifies the legal duty of an athletic association in the prevention of child sexual abuse. All adults authorized to interact with amateur athletes must report allegations of child abuse to the proper authorities.
Michigan state laws prohibiting sexual abuse in schools include:
- “Statutory Rape” aka in Michigan as Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree: Unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual penetration with a person who is person under 13 years of age. (Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.520b)
- “Rape” known as in Michigan as Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree “Sexual Battery” & “Sexual Contact:” Prohibits any sexual contact if the victim is between the ages of 13 and 16 and the alleged suspect is 5 years or older than the victim. Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery. (Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.520e)
- “Statutory Rape” aka in Michigan as Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree: Unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person who is a minor. For the purposes of this section, a “minor” is a person under the age of 18 years. An “adult” is a person who is at least 18 years of age. (Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.520d)
- Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, MCL 37.2101 et. seq.: Discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and age is explicitly outlawed. The law applies to all businesses, including schools.
- Section 2 of article VIII of the Michigan Constitution of 1963: Section 2 of Article VIII requires that “Every school district shall provide for the education of its pupils without discrimination as to religion, creed, race, color or national origin.”
- Michigan Child Protection Law: Also referred to as the “mandatory reporter law,” a list of mandated reports—people working with children—to contact the police department, county welfare agency, or juvenile probation office to report known or suspected child abuse. Failure to report results in fines and potential jail time.
WHO ARE MICHIGAN’S MANDATED REPORTERS?
Abusers subtly use their position of authority and trust. They exploit their position often to make children feel as if he or she will get in trouble if they tell on their abuser. Also, this lead children to not step forward because they feel embarrassed, humiliated or frightened. Rarely is a student abused or molested at school without prior warning. Abusers often take the time to groom certain children to be victims of sexual abuse. By creating a close bond and feelings of loyalty with their victims, perpetrators of sexual abuse make it difficult for their victims to understand that the abuse is wrong and should be reported.
In a school setting, heightened legal expectations are placed upon the following people as mandated reporters:
- administrative officials
- attendance supervisors
- campus police
- instructional aides
- licensed practitioners
- nursing staff
- principals and assistant principals
- public and private teachers
- recreational program supervisors
- school security guards
- social workers
- state Department of Education staff
- youth organization leaders
Anyone who knows about or suspects sexual assault, rape, grooming behaviors, exploitation, physical abuse, neglect, or emotional maltreatment must report to the proper authorities. Reporting to other school officials is not enough to satisfy the law. They must report their findings or suspicions to law enforcement, a welfare agency, or juvenile probation department.
WHAT TO DO IF I SUSPECT SEXUAL ABUSE?
If you suspect your child or a child, you know is being sexually abused at school you should report it immediately to the police. Should you wish to pursue criminal action, the officer in charge will gather evidence and make a recommendation the local prosecutor’s office. If there is enough evidence to convict the individual perpetrator “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the prosecutor will likely press criminal charges, resulting in arrest, possible prison time, fines paid to the state, probation, and registration as a sex offender.
“The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for signs of child sexual abuse is to keep an eye on sudden changes in behavior. Trust your gut and don’t ignore your feelings if something seems off. If a child tells you that someone makes them uncomfortable, even if they can’t tell you anything specific, listen.” “Warning Signs for Young Children.”
Civil courts allow for an expanded scope of justice that includes anyone who gave the perpetrator access to children or deliberately turned a blind eye to the abuse. While the goal of the criminal court is to punish wrongdoers and exonerate the innocent, the goal of civil courts is to provide a financial remedy to victims for their losses. In this case, a child may require counseling to cope with the effects of the abuse suffered.
IS MY CHILD’S SCHOOL LIABLE FOR THE SEXUAL ABUSE?
In many cases, the school or school district may be liable for your child’s assault and abuse. You can sue them for injuries occurring at school or related to school activity.
Schools and school districts are generally liable for the conduct of their employees if the employee committed an assault or other crime while acting in the scope of their employment. This is often a contested area because the schools argue that the misconduct was not carried out in the course of the perpetrator’s employment. However, our South Carolina school abuse lawyers can argue that any actions that happen during school hours on school property (or approved school trips), or by anyone who is employed by the school or school district, are automatically within the scope of the abuser’s employment – and therefore, the school should be held responsible.
Schools have a duty to run background checks on the teachers and staff they hire – everyone from janitors to administrators – precisely because they will be working with children on a daily or regular basis. They must also conduct due diligence if they learn of incidents involving a teacher’s conduct or the conduct of any other employees at prior schools, their current school, or in their personal lives. Many sexual predators seek out teaching or schoolwork as a career because it’s an easy place to find victims.
Schools must make sure they monitor the educational and emotional progress of their students. If a teacher or school official suspects any inappropriate sexual contact, the teacher and school need to conduct a full investigation and keep the parents informed.
Schools need to enact policies that other students, teachers, and administrators understand. They must have people on staff that students can talk to about any sexual abuse or assault. Failure to enact these policies and to enforce them may be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the school.
I THINK MY CHILD WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED AT SCHOOL. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you think you child was assaulted, the first thing to do is try to talk with your child. If you continue to think they were abused or assaulted (or harmed in anyway), you need to call law enforcement. Though you are responsible in doing this and it is the correct course, guilty parties may try to hide things once they are notified of a pending situation. Still, it is necessary to take these first steps to protect your child and all children.
Parents need to communicate with their children and be alert for any changes in behavior. Creating a safe haven for them to discuss their experiences is important. Parents should also know their child’s activities and be alert as to who their child is with when he or she is not home.
If you suspect your child was sexually abused at school, authorities recommend you:
- Speak with your child
- Report any abuse to the police
- Let the police do their job in investigating the incident and contacting the school
- Schedule a meeting with a therapist
- Consider taking photos or videos of any physical signs of abuse
- Make an appointment with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer or law firm
- Turn off your child’s social media accounts so the incident stays private
Confidentiality and Privacy when filing a sexual abuse civil lawsuit
A child is entitled to privacy under State and Federal Law. In most cases, Michigan Courts will protect your right to file as a “Jane or John Doe” and permit you to maintain anonymity and privacy while still allowing you to pursue justice. Contact Steve Crane and Crane Law now and be assured he and his team will discreetly and in full confidence discuss your case.
When you know or suspect child abuse:
Report it immediately to the police. Charges can be filed against the abuser, preventing the predator from sexually assaulting another child.
Contact Steve Crane. He specializes in sexual abuse cases. Regardless of how the criminal case turns out, your legal options include the opportunity to pursue financial compensation through the civil justice system. Civil court allows for an expanded scope of liability, making it possible to hold more than one individual liable for the abuse. Suing on your child’s behalf can cover medical bills, counseling costs, and emotional pain and suffering stemming from summer camp sexual abuse.
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR FILING A SEXUAL ABUSE CIVIL LAWSUIT?
The “statute of limitations” is a term used by courts to describe the maximum amount of time plaintiffs can wait before bringing a lawsuit. This time limit is set by state law and is intended to promote fairness and keep old cases from clogging the courts. In the publication of private facts cases, the statute of limitations ordinarily runs from the date of first publication of the offending facts.
Because Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act does not include a statute of limitations, the statute of limitations for the underlying cause of action (i.e., negligence) applies. In the case of wrongful death actions based on general negligence, the statute of limitations is the general 3-year statute of limitations for injury to a person or property when reviewing. See Michigan Compiled Law 600.5805(2).
The statute of limitations varies for sexual abuse (which includes criminal sexual conduct and the broom-sticking of one’s rectum) and when the victim is a minor.
Michigan Compiled Law 600.5851b(1)(a) allows children (minors) until age 28 to file a civil lawsuit, or under section 5851b(1)(b), within three years of discovering the harm, whichever is later. See Michigan Compiled Law 600.5851b(1)(b).
MCL 600.5805(6) affords adult victims 10 years from the most recent incident of sexual abuse to bring a case against the abuser.
If you are a victim or survivor of sexual abuse, you should contact experienced and respected trial attorney Steve Crane. He and his team can assess the facts of your case and help you in a trusted, private, and secure manner determine the best course of action to move forward.
To schedule a discrete and confidential consultation about your matter, email or call us at (833) 855-4400 today.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Crane Law PLLC or Steve Crane, Esq. Neither your receipt of information from this website nor your use of this website to contact Crane Law PLLC or Steve Crane, Esq. creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.