Most people are unaware that for nearly every criminal act, there is a corresponding civil cause of action. For instance, survivors or criminal sexual assault, abuse or molestation always have a viable civil cause of action against the perpetrator for the common law and statutory “torts” of sexual assault, abuse or battery. The problem is that civil judgments against deadbeat sexual assault perpetrators are often uncollectable.
The attorneys of Passen & Powell, having represented a number of sexual abuse and assault survivors, published an Overview of Civil Justice for Crime Victims in Illinois. We are well-aware of the physical and emotional toll of these heinous act, and also know that it’s not just the perpetrator who is responsible for allowing the sexual abuse or assault to occur. Oftentimes, there are more powerful corporate interests who share responsibility.
Corporate (Third-Party) Liability for Sexual Assault
In certain contexts, the corporations whose negligence made the sexual assault possible may be held liable under the civil justice system. Only recently has the media highlighted such instances of corporate liability for sexual abuse, including allegations against the Catholic Church, Penn State University and Boy Scouts of America.
According to recent statistics, nearly 20% of children will become a victim of sexual abuse at some point in their lifetime. Oftentimes, more than just the perpetrator is responsible for allowing this abuse to occur.
Corporate liability often involves the negligent hiring, supervision or retention of the perpetrator. For instance, a hotel who hires someone with a known or suspected history of violence, who then accesses a guest’s room and commits a sexual assault, may be held liable for its negligence — aside from the obvious liability of the perpetrator. Or, a university or school board may be held liable for the sexual assault of a student committed by a teacher, especially when the school knew or should have known of the abuse and failed to conduct a proper investigation. The examples and contexts are endless.
It is important to hold all those responsible — in addition to the perpetrator — accountable for sexual assault or abuse. Oftentimes, a civil court of law is the only place to hold corporations or others responsible. For a safe and confidential discussion about a potential case with one of our attorneys, call us at 312-527-4500.