Results – Childhood Sexual Abuse

Putting Results in Context

Resolution of childhood sexual abuse cases takes places in two very distinct contexts: in the courtroom or outside of it. Whether or not to pursue litigation against the abuser and/or a responsible institution is a very personal decision. Many childhood sexual abuse survivors who pursue claims against the abuser and/or a responsible institution do not want to publicly disclose their identity nor do they want to endure the so-called “hazards of litigation.”

Litigation

As to public disclosure in litigation, most states allow childhood sexual abuse survivors to proceed in court anonymously, i.e. as “John” or “Jane” Doe or using some other pseudonym. As to the hazards of litigation. Among others, these include:

  • The emotional and psychological stress created by litigation;
  • In some situations, a case will be dismissed before trial because the statute of limitations has run and not been tolled;
  • The length of time it takes for a case to proceed to trial;
  • Undergoing cross-examination by defense attorneys in a deposition;
  • Having to provide live testimony at trial; and
  • Risking that a trial can be lost.

Avoiding Litigation

Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse wish to avoid the public spectacle and “hazards” associated with litigation. For those survivors, mediation and negotiation may be available if the potential defendants are willing to consider resolution “outside of the courtroom.” Most credible childhood sexual abuse claims are resolved through private, confidential mediation/negotiation. These resolutions are usually confidential as to the financial terms, each party agreeing to keep confidential and not disclose the amount of the settlement paid to the abuse survivor.

Impact of the Statute of Limitations

Each state has its own particular statute of limitations that applies to childhood sexual abuse cases. A statute of limitations sets forth the amount of time an abuse survivor has within which to bring a legal claim against the abuser and/or a responsible institution. However, most states also allow for “tolling,” i.e. suspending, the statute of limitations in particular situations. “Tolling” enables an abuse survivor to assert claims that otherwise would be considered “barred” by the applicable statute of limitations.

However, despite the applicability of “tolling” in any particular case, defense attorneys use the applicable statutes of limitation as a threshold way to divide potential claims into two distinct categories: “in-statute” and “out-of-statute.” From solely a financial risk standpoint, an “in-statute” case poses significantly greater financial risk to a responsible institution (and, oftentimes, its insurer).

Consequently, any “result” must be understood in the context in which the particular case/claim existed (application of the statute of limitations) and how it was pursued (litigation vs. private resolution).

Results – Private (Confidential) Resolution

While we and our co-counsel have participated in and achieved success for our clients through private resolution of their childhood sexual abuse claims, we cannot disclose the results of those cases. The amounts paid in these settlements are confidential as are the names of our clients.

What we can say is that in those situations, our clients did not want to expose themselves to the “hazards of litigation” and therefore desired to achieve private resolution of their claims. Though not a panacea to mitigate the effects and impact of childhood sexual abuse, private (confidential) resolution provides some measure of satisfaction to the survivor that his/her abuse has been acknowledged and the responsible institution held accountable. Generally, these financial settlements are not subject to income tax as they are considered compensation for injuries.

Results – Publicly Reported Verdicts and Settlements

When lawsuits proceed to trial and a jury verdict is rendered, the verdict is a matter of public record – whether the abuse survivor’s identity is known or the case was brought using a pseudonym, i.e. “John” or “Jane Doe.” In situations where a responsible institution is alleged to have enable the abuse of a group of survivors, a group settlement may be reached and its terms are disclosed publicly.

Group Settlements

One of our childhood sexual abuse co-counsel was Connecticut counsel in two highly publicized childhood sexual abuse cases involving defendants AAA Perlitz and certain allegedly responsible institutions. Both cases involved allegations of abuse perpetrated by Perlitz in Haiti, allegedly enabled by the wrongful conduct of the other defendants named in the cases. Both cases resulted in group settlements.

Perltz I resulted in a group settlement under which the defendants agreed to pay $12 million to 24 individuals (average of $500,000 each) who, as children, were reportedly sexually abused by Perlitz. Perlitz I was followed by the more recent case - Perlitz II - involving a different group of childhood abuse survivors who brought a similar lawsuit against the same defendants. A group settlement was recently announced in Perlitz II under which the defendants agreed to pay $60 million to approximately 130 abuse survivors (average of ~$460,000 each).

Another noteworthy group settlement that was recently announced arises out of the Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics scandal involving the doctor who was a serial abuser of young women gymnasts who trained for the Olympics. The settlement was announced by Michigan State University which agreed to pay $500million divided into two separate funds: $425million to pay pending childhood sexual abuse claims brought by 332 women (an average of $1,28million each) and $75million to be set aside to pay for future claims.

Pending Litigation

Currently pending are 3 separate “pseudonym” cases against Connecticut high school involving teachers who allegedly sexually-abused under-age students. Each of these cases was brought using the fictitious pseudonym “John” or “Jane Doe” so as to protect the identity of clients.


FREE PRIEST AND CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
CASE EVALUATION

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If you prefer to speak with us directly regarding your incident, please call the Meneo Law Group at 1-888-276-3030 or send us a confidential email.