Sex Abuse Victims are Coming Forward and Making a Difference

During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we salute victims of sexual abuse who are making a difference by bravely coming forward to demand justice.

Their bravery is making a difference. Recent research has documented a growing demand for schools to be held accountable for failing to protect students, along with a surge in large monetary awards and settlements against schools for failing to protect students from sexual abuse.

Unlike criminal courts that too often focus solely on punishing offenders, civil lawsuits place a priority on helping victims seek justice and accountability. It’s our privilege to work with victims to attain a semblance of justice through monetary awards against perpetrators and entities that neglect their duties to protect.

Schools Under Scrutiny

A recent study by United Educators found that more K-12 schools and colleges are being held accountable for abuse that occurs on their watch. Highlights of the report include:

  • Risk management companies like United Educators that provide insurance for schools acknowledge that there is a public perception that schools have not done enough to protect students.
  • Schools and colleges are being hit with more large monetary verdicts and settlements. In 2022, there were 69 awards larger than $1 million compared to 38 in 2012 — an 80 percent increase. Sex abuse claims accounted for the majority of these lawsuits.
  • Awards and settlements larger than $250,000 have also increased. There were 19 settlements and jury verdicts against schools in 2019, compared to 107 in 2022 — an increase of 463 percent.

The United Educators report highlights several large monetary awards against California schools in 2022, including Union School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, Riverside Unified School District, and Pasadena Unified School District, all in California.

In 2023, Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel attorneys obtained two seven-figure monetary settlements on behalf of two women who were sexually assaulted by their ninth-grade social studies teacher at a Los Angeles-area public middle school in 1974.

According to the two lawsuits, the school district and its personnel ignored signs during the 1974-75 school year that the teacher was grooming the two girls. An investigation revealed that the teacher was openly affectionate with them and would make arrangements for the girls to be alone with him in his locked classroom during lunch and after hours. In addition, he would give them gifts, call them by pet names, and inappropriately touch them in public, according to the lawsuit.

More recently in April 2024, the Redlands Unified School District paid $45.5 million to settle 16 sexual abuse lawsuits from former students. The cases relate to allegations against former Clement Middle School teacher Timothy Rochester. According to the lawsuit, the school administration investigated allegations but failed to remove him from teaching or alerting police.

Across the country, states have expanded time limitations for filing sexual assault claims, allowing survivors to file legal claims for damages from sexual abuse that happened decades ago. These changes have led to thousands of new claims by adults who were victimized when they were minors.

Schools can be negligent and legally liable if they fail to properly screen and supervise staff or fail to promptly respond to complaints and warning signs of abuse. To protect students, schools are obligated to:

  • Perform background checks on all employees, especially those with direct and unsupervised access to students.
  • Check references and criminal histories and screen for any previous abusive behavior.
  • Provide training related to student-teacher boundaries, warning signs of abuse and reporting procedures.
  • Supervise and monitor student-teacher interactions.
  • Promptly investigate complaints about teacher behavior, including inappropriate relationships and grooming behavior.

How We Help Sex Abuse Victims 

Our national sexual abuse lawyers work one-on-one with survivors, offering a direct, personal level of care and discretion. We use our decades of experience battling big organizations to fight on behalf of survivors, aggressively taking on those responsible for causing pain and suffering. If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, we can help.

What are my chances?

That’s the first question everyone asks. The truth is it’s impossible to know. But we can tell you this. Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel has what it takes to fight against big corporate interests and win. That’s why we’ve taken more mesothelioma trials to verdict than any other firm. And that’s why we’ve recovered more than $1.3 billion for clients like you. Do you think you have a case? Contact us now to speak with an attorney.

Call 800.226.9880