Sending your children to camps over the holidays is an excellent way to introduce them to adventure, team building, and opportunities to make new friends. While most parents trust that their children are in good hands throughout the camp session, they may be exposed to sexual predators looking to engage in abusive behavior.
Consequently, you may need to consult a team of legal experts to help you seek legal remedies if your child is a victim of camp sexual abuse. With the right team by your side, you increase your chances of a positive case outcome in your civil case. In return, you will have access to compensation for the harm caused to help your child recover.
At Sex Crimes Attorney, you will work with a skilled and experienced group of lawyers specializing in sex abuse cases. Our services are available to aggrieved parties nationwide seeking an avenue to file their civil cases against camp sexual abusers.
Prevalence of Sexual Abuse in Camps
Multiple camps run across the country at different times, especially during summer. Camp owners offer exciting packages for the enrolled children, attracting boys and girls of different age groups into the establishments.
Due to this, the high number of participants may downplay the prevalence of sexual abuse in camps. This is primarily because the predators may threaten the victims into silence and find new children to abuse within the camps among the high number of camp attendees.
Over the years, many cases of camp sexual abuse have been reported and filed in civil courts to ensure that the victims and their parents receive rightful compensation. Therefore, parents are encouraged to provide their children with essential pointers before sending them to camps.
For example, you want to ensure that your child understands the importance of maintaining personal space. They will identify signs of predatory behavior whereby the abuser makes subtle approaches that violate their personal space.
Furthermore, your child is better equipped to raise the alarm if an abuser approaches them if they understand the importance of communication. Once they learn the importance of speaking up even when it may be uncomfortable for them, they have better chances of calling out personnel in the camp exhibiting signs of potentially abusing children.
Parents and guardians can also conduct their due diligence on the camp of their choice before sending their children there. When conducting the research, you want to check that the camp has no previously reported cases involving sexual abuse. You can also call to inquire about the measures taken against employees upon exhibiting suspicious behavior when dealing with children.
Although you may do your best to ensure that your child ends up in a safe and well-monitored camp, sexual abusers often disguise their intentions until it is too late. Subsequently, you want to explore various options to ensure the offenders face legal repercussions.
Understanding the Difference Between a Criminal and Civil Case
Once your child reports having experienced camp sexual abuse, you want to report the matter to the relevant authorities as soon as possible. You should also notify your sex crime attorney and police officers operating in your area. Failure to report the issue on time may cause several problems in the future, including reduced credibility of claims. You also need to consider the statute of limitation provisions in your state to help you determine the period within which a sexual abuse case must be filed for it to be valid.
Upon reporting the matter to authorities, they will lodge official investigations and arrest the suspects in preparation for a hearing. Typically, criminal cases will result in a fine payment or jail sentence for the abuser when found guilty.
On the other hand, in a civil case, the presiding judge determines whether the respondent is liable to pay you any compensation. Under this division of the law, the offender will not receive any jail sentence but will have to fulfill court directives to make monetary transactions equivalent to the damages that your child and family in general suffered.
Nevertheless, the judge must be convinced of the offender’s involvement in the abuse on a balance of probabilities before awarding the damages.
Determining the Liable Parties in a Camp Sexual Abuse Case
Your attorney will advise you to determine the rightful party to hold liable before filing your case. Doing this will help you gather sufficient evidence and build comprehensible arguments on the party’s wrongdoings or omissions that resulted in the abuse. Therefore, you need to take time and analyze the course of events resulting in camp sexual abuse.
One of the ways to do this is by gathering your child’s record of events through conversational means. However, you should remember that since they may be traumatized by the occurrence, they can have difficulties recalling all factors as they unfolded.
In extreme cases, the victim could not recall the ordeal, meaning that you will need to explore different alternatives. For example, your attorney can hold discussions with the camp stakeholders to inquire on the types of rules of conduct they enforce on their employees.
Further, your lawyer can inquire about the type of investigations the camp stakeholders have undertaken since the sexual abuse case was brought to their attention. The information they provide can be useful in building your case and revealing any shortcomings by the camp owners in holding the offender responsible.
Some of the commonly reported liable parties in a camp sexual abuse case include:
Some cases reveal the stakeholders’ negligence in ensuring that the camp environment is safe for children, counselors, and staff members to interact safely, making them potentially liable for the sexual abuse case.
For example, employers should conduct thorough background checks on their potential employees to ensure they have no criminal records or, if so, that they entail minor offenses. The background searches also inform the employers of the nature of offenses that previously convicted employees have. Hence, they can easily rule out the applicants to maintain a safe environment.
Additional measures that camp stakeholders can apply include ensuring that surveillance systems in the property are running correctly. The expectation is that cameras are well installed and that the security personnel can access the footage at any time to check on everybody’s safety. If the systems are run down and do not provide the required coverage, it increases the chances of predators getting away with their actions, injuring more children.
Children will often spend most of their time at camp with their respective counselors, as they are their supervisors throughout the trip. The counselors are also responsible for issuing instructions and overseeing camp activities. Hence, if a counselor has ulterior motives to abuse a child sexually, they may succeed by exploiting their easy access to vulnerable camp participants.
The camp counselor’s liability is often linked to directly committing the sexual abuse. Your attorney will need to provide sufficient proof of the offender’s engagement with the victim in court. Some evidential sources include witness statements or footage showing the offender engaging in abusive behavior.
Subordinate Camp Staff
It is important to note that additional staff members are present in most camps to help with running various programs. For example, cooks, medical professionals, and cleaners should be available to undertake duties as the camp counselors are preoccupied with guiding the camp participants through activities.
Due to this, liability may also shift to any camp staff member reported engaging in sexual abuse. The victim can report their encounter to the nearest administrative personnel in the camp before authorities and parents are then involved in the offense.
Persons accused of committing or omitting various actions that result in abuse will then be arraigned in court, where their liability is determined using different legal theories. The two main theories applied to establish the responsible party’s liability are:
Your attorney will need to ensure that their line of argument is logical and is easily proved to increase the chances of a favorable case outcome. Therefore, you want to understand the factors present in both theories to help you better prepare for the proceedings.
Elements of Negligence to Prove When Building a Case Against the Liable Party
Negligence is an element established from the law of Torts. Under the legal premise, a person can only be negligent if their actions or omissions were founded on four main elements. Thus, when you file a case against a party, you want to run your case facts by the four elements to ensure that they create a justified cause of action. The four elements are:
The Liable Party Owed Your Child a Duty of Care
Firstly, you must establish that the party you accuse of negligence owed you and your child a duty of care to uphold a safe camp environment. When presenting on this element, you want to elaborate on the specific duty of care to ensure that your accusations are not reliant on general premises.
For example, if the liable party is a camp counselor or staff member, they must uphold the camp code of conduct. It requires members to interact cordially with camp participants and avoid compromising situations.
Additionally, camp owners and stakeholders must ensure that they only contract trustworthy employees who understand the importance of keeping children safe. Moreover, the camp setting should include transparency and reliable surveillance to enhance safety. Without these measures, the stakeholders will have failed at upholding their duties, making them liable for any course of action that follows.
A Breach of Duty Occurred
Typically, breaches of duties occur when the liable party acts contrary to the expected code of conduct. For example, a breach entails the actual actions that amounted to abuse. They may include indecent exposure, groping, forced kissing, and even rape or attempted rape on the victim.
Your sex abuse attorney should have evidential sources ready to ensure that your claims are well backed. Thus, any footage, witness statements, or testimonies from the victim and other parties will ensure that the offender is found liable for their wrongdoings.
Alternatively, the breach of duty may occur because of omissions from the liable party. This is when a party had a duty to perform to prevent abuse but failed to do so. For example, if a security officer heard the victim screaming for help but failed to respond to the cries, they can be jointly held liable for the abuse. This would mean that your case includes the abuser as the primary respondent and the security officer as the second respondent.
Similarly, if the camp employers or stakeholders were aware of an employee’s predatory behavior but failed to take disciplinary action against them, they are jointly liable for the abuse. In some instances, they may even be required to hold more responsibility than the perpetrator. The reasoning behind this is that the abuser may have lacked the chance to execute the offense if the employer had dismissed them on time.
The Abuse Occurred as a Result of Breach of Duty
Moreover, proving causation is an important step towards establishing negligence, as it links the breach of duty to the damages your child suffered. Therefore, your sex abuse attorney will establish the specific pointers showing the abuser’s causation element.
Usually, proving causation is easier after establishing that a breach of duty occurred. The only necessary step is to show that the damages arose directly from the breach. For example, if your child did not previously exhibit signs of anxiety, there is a reasonable premise to assume that the sexual abuse triggered the condition.
Causation arguments are not always this direct, as the respondents will try to counter the accusations against them. The best way to approach the matter in court is to ensure your evidence is relevant to the matter in question so that the judge can establish a clear line of fault.
Your Child Suffered Damages from the Sexual Abuse
Doubtless, your child will suffer severe effects of sexual abuse, particularly when the ordeal occurred in an environment that should be safe. Consequently, parents have to deal with their children’s abuse outcomes, resulting in multiple losses and damages.
For example, you will need to factor in medical costs and rehabilitative services as part of the expenses required to help your child recover from the trauma emerging from abuse. Similarly, the costs involved in retaining a lawyer and additional actions taken to investigate the situation independently also amount to significant financial expenditures.
As a result, the liable party should be responsible for compensating you, provided you prove your case sufficiently. The presiding judge is keen to analyze the type of evidence you present, as it helps create a credible position for the claims you make.
Once you have established all elements of negligence successfully, the judge will issue a determination in your favor. Their directive will require the respondent to meet your financial demands and compensate you on behalf of your child for the abuse.
Vicarious Liability Cases
Vicarious liability is a concept also arising from Tort law provisions. It shifts the blame for civil wrongs from an employee to an employer, primarily because the employee undertakes duties within the scope of the employer’s expectations.
In cases of camp sexual abuse, vicarious liability claims can help you secure compensation from camp employers, owners, or stakeholders for abuse if you can prove several factors. They are:
The Abuser was Legally Contracted to Work in the Camp
The main element to prove is that the sexual abuser was a legal employee in the camp, meaning they were under a contractual obligation from their employer. To do this, your lawyer may research the employment agreement between the camp owners and the employee found to have engaged in the abusive behavior.
Further, the evidence must show that the abuser was still an employee at the camp when they committed the abuse, meaning that the employer held responsible for them. You will be one step closer to proving that the employer should be vicariously liable for the offender’s actions by presenting any relevant employment documents.
The Offender Was in the Course of Undertaking their Duties When the Abuse Occurred
Vicarious liability only holds an employer answerable for an employee’s wrongdoings if they occurred within the scope of their duty. The provision aims to limit the employer’s liability for any actions engaged outside the workplace, increasing the risk of multiple accusations at a time.
Subsequently, a claim filed under vicarious liability would only be acceptable in the court if the sexual abuse occurred as the offender undertook camp-related activities. Generally, any abuse reported within the camp premises can attract charges because the employees and staff members are expected to undertake professional duties only within the environment.
The judge may inquire on additional factors, depending on the case circumstances. Hence, your attorney should be prepared to provide supplementary information and justifications on why the employer should be jointly liable with the offender for the sexual abuse.
Signs of Camp Sexual Abuse on the Victims
Although most cases involve children reporting the sexual abuse they faced to their parents or guardians, some may suffer from extreme trauma and have difficulties talking about it. The outcome would be a delayed course of action, as you may be unable to suspect that any mishaps occurred during their time at camp.
Thus, the suppressed information may also prevent you from seeking legal remedies on time, mainly because statutes of limitation exist to place a time limit on reporting old cases. You can, therefore, look out for the following signs of sexual abuse in your child after they return home:
Sudden Withdrawal and Change of Regular Behavior
Parents or guardians can easily spot a change of behavior in their children, mainly if their personality traits are associated with extroverted behavior. The probable cause of withdrawal is the ongoing trauma and processing of the sexual abuse experienced. Hence, the child cannot act as freely as before, which often reveals the underlying problem.
Anxiety and Depression
Moreover, you may notice that the sexual abuse victim displays signs of anxiety and depression, specifically when interacting with others. Their academic progress may also stagnate or drop because they cannot focus like before.
Difficulties in Trusting Caregivers in the Future
Although you may not identify signs of mistrust directly, some behaviors may help determine whether your child is struggling to trust caregivers. For example, they will appear uneasy or distressed when you introduce them to a new babysitter.
Claims to Include When Seeking Compensation for Damages Caused by Camp Sexual Abuse
Once the presiding judge accepts your arguments that prove the liable party’s wrongdoing through negligence or vicarious liability, they will assess the claims you submit. They are keen to determine whether the claims you demand compensation for align with the type of harm that your child suffered.
Thus, you want to ensure that all claims are well supported with solid evidential sources, including original copies of medical documents, receipts, therapist reports, and prescription notes. The main claims to submit when seeking compensation for camp sexual abuse include:
Compensation for medical expenses
Pain and suffering
Therapy and counseling Sessions
Contact a California Sex Crime Attorney Near Me
When a loved one is a camp sexual abuse victim, they require intensive counseling. They need medical attention to help them fully recover. Additionally, they need constant encouragement and reassurance to prevent them from experiencing extreme anxiety and depression. Owing to the adverse effects they experience, they and their caregivers deserve compensation from the perpetrators. The monetary compensation you receive is meant to help the victims return to their everyday life by facilitating recovery services.
The best way to seek legal redress is by working with an experienced sex crimes lawyer to help you file a civil suit. Upon making the required preparations, you will be ready to challenge the abuser in court and possibly receive a favorable outcome. Partnering with us, the Sex Crimes Attorney gives you access to the best legal services. We look forward to helping sexual abuse victims recover damages in California. For more information, call us at 888-666-8480.