Sexual Abuse in School, Colleges and Universities
Sexual abuse in schools and universities can be perpetrated by teachers, professors, administrators, coaches or other students. Schools and universities have a duty to protect the children and young adults that are under their care. This entails providing a secure environment where students and children are not threatened or exposed to danger. The failure to ensure safety for students may result from negligent hiring or retention, or the absence of reasonable measures to protect against abuse or take action once the school becomes aware of criminal activity by employees. In either case, these crimes are especially egregious as they are perpetuated against a vulnerable and unassuming population.
Universities and Colleges Subject to Federal Law to Protect Students
Title IX is a federal law that disallows sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape on college campuses. The law is applicable to sexual abuse by faculty, staff or other students. If an institution receives federal funding and it exerts authority over the perpetrator or maintains control over the environment where he/she committed crimes, it can be held responsible for failing to report, curb, or prevent sexual assault.
Assault Allegations against Teachers, Professors and Administrators
Teachers and educators are among the most common perpetrators of sexual assaults against children. They are viewed as authority figures and are typically given a high degree of unmonitored access to children. Individuals who have been abused as children or young adults have filed hundreds of lawsuits against their abusers and the school and universities who employed them for negligent supervision.
Since the new law providing a one-year window for lawsuits previously barred by the statute of limitations went into effect in New York, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed. This includes a recent lawsuit by 38 former students against Yeshiva University which states that the accusers were sexually abused as high school students in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, despite complaining to administrators about inappropriate behavior. Sexual assault on campuses by professors and administrators has affected dozens of leading universities including Yale, Dartmouth and Ohio State University. Ohio State University team doctor Richard Strauss has been accused of sexually abusing at least 177 male students from 1979 to 1996. But sexual abuse is not confined to university campuses; an investigation by the Associated Press revealed 17,000 official reports of sexual assault from 2011-2015 among the nation’s 50 million K-12 students. This past year the Board of Education in Chicago reported that there were approximately three complaints of sexual misconduct per day against a teacher, contractor, or volunteer in the school system.
Recently, a dozen women filed a lawsuit against the New York School for the Deaf alleging that dorm supervisor Joseph Casucci sexually abused them between 1964 and 1975. Another lawsuit was filed by 20 men against the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club in New York City alleging sexual abuse by basketball coach Nicholas “Lefty” Antonucci and Dr. Reginald Archibald, a “pool doctor”. Former students of Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale, New York have accused Edwin Gaynor of sexual abuse. The lawsuits against Gaynor, a former sports coach and physical education teacher, claim that school officials and parents were aware of sexual abuse allegations since the early 1960s.
The University of Michigan (UM) is gathering complaints from former students who were sexually assaulted by Dr. Robert Anderson, a physician employed by UM from 1968 until 2003. More than 100 reports from former student-patients allege that Dr. Anderson engaged in sexual abuse during the time he was employed by UM.
In 2013, the Bronx district attorney’s office found a “systemic pattern of alleged abuse” over nearly four decades (1960s-1990s) at the private Horace Mann School.
Under-reporting and Failure to Act
Deficient hiring practices and the absence of adequate background checks often contribute to negligent hiring of school personnel. Elementary and secondary schools do not have a national requirement to disclose sexual violence. As a result, many schools and universities hide the abuse at extenuating costs. Often reporting the incident can impose liability on the school and require the school to take various actions. Schools may cover up the abuse, give the perpetrator a slap on the wrist, or simply allow teachers to find a position in a different school, thereby subjecting other students to sexual abuse.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has recovered millions of dollars for victims of sexual abuse. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual misconduct by a teacher, professor or administrator, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling 1-800-225-9825 or submit an email inquiry on this page.