Sexual Assault, Abuse and Hazing

Instances of school hazing and sexual abuse in schools, athletics, and churches continue to increase every year. The damage done by these attacks is severe and often permanent. Sometimes it takes time to make a decision to stand up to these abusers, confront them and bring them to justice. We have experience with these cases and we understand how traumatic coming forward can be. Let us help.

Sexual Abuse

Have You or a Loved One Been a Victim of Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is a very sensitive area of the law, especially when children are involved. These cases can include sexual abuse by a clergy member, teacher or school staff member, a coach, or a family member. Sexual abuse also can involve elderly victims abused in nursing homes. You need the help of an experienced lawyer to help you through this sensitive and complex legal issue.

Damages From Sexual Abuse Can Be Long Term

The growing and well publicized issue in this area of the law is church sex abuse cases. These cases cause life changing psychological and emotional damages to the victims. Sexual abuse can have a wide variety effects on a child, ranging from behavioral changes to poor performance in school to debilitating mental illness. These effects are often permanent.

According to the federal government, victims of sexual abuse are three times more likely to suffer from depression, four times more likely contemplate suicide, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. Further, 15% of sex abuse victims are under the age of 12, 44% of victims are under the age of 18, and 93% of children sexually abused know their attacker.

Defendants in these actions can include churches, schools and day care centers where sex abuse occurred due to unsafe conditions, insufficient background checks or other practices leading to the abuse. Defendants may also include hospitals and nursing homes where substandard practices led to abuse.

We have the experience you need to get the best possible result.

Hazing

As long as there have been universities, there has been hazing: in 1657, it was recorded that two Harvard students were fined and suspended for hazing a fellow classmate.

While being part of a fraternity, sports, or other social group can be one of the most rewarding parts of a student’s life, hazing is a serious problem that often permeats campus culture. It is estimated that 55 percent of students who join fraternities, sororities, sports teams or other student groups experience hazing of some form. But just what is hazing and at what level does it become actionable in civil courts?

Hazing is any intentionally created situation that harasses, embarrasses, or ridicules a student and puts specific members of a group at risk of emotional or physical harm, regardless of that person’s consent to participate in that activity. While often subtle, hazing can also be violent in nature, including forced activities or psychological manipulation.

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Subtle hazing is often accepted as harmless or meaningless, but is serious, and can lead to more dangerous and threatening behavior. Like most forms of harassment, subtle hazing stems from an imbalance of power and lack of respect between new and established members of an organization, with new members on the receiving end of embarrassment or ridicule. Many new members often feel like they should “go with the flow” or put up with the behavior from their senior members or classmates. Hazing can have a serious physical and psychological impact on the student and should always be taken seriously. Harassment hazing goes further, causing high levels of stress and putting more emphasis on physical or prolonged intimidation and punishment.

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At times, hazing can become violent, and has the potential to cause long-term harm to those participating, including paddling, whipping or branding, forced nudity, or compelled alcohol and drug consumption, as well as sexual assault.

Sexual assault on college campuses is such a common problem that studies have indicated that 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted, regardless of race, age, or ethnicity, with many cases of sexual assault going unreported for fear of retribution or marginalization. Sexual assault includes any unwanted sexual activity from any person or gender, and ranges from unwanted touching to rape. Alcohol and drugs, as well as peer pressure, often play a role in sexual assault cases, but in no way give permission for that kind of unwanted activity to occur. For students traveling abroad, the instances of sexual assault go even higher, and are often difficult to investigate due to the distances and language barriers. Those who are sexually assaulted may experience health problems including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and may have to continually interact with the person on campus which can make recovery from assault particularly difficult.

While a student cannot prevent sexual assault because that behavior is the responsibility of the person who is violent or abusive, students can take steps to be safe and help keep others safe. Getting to know new groups of friends before spending time alone with them, going to parties in groups and not alone, meeting dates in public spaces, being aware of your surroundings at all times, as well as having a plan to get home safely are all good strategies to prepare students for difficult situations and minimize the opportunity for danger.

Schools and universities have become a breeding ground for abuse, sexual harassment, and hazing. If you’ve been harassed or sexually assaulted on campus, know that you are not alone. You need to act quickly and we can help.