Articles Posted in Child Sex Abuse

The Baltimore Board of Estimates, a subcommittee of the Baltimore City Council, is expected to approve a $50,000 settlement related to a Baltimore middle school student. The family of a female student claims that she was victimized by a man working there who acted as her mentor.The settlement would resolve the $100,000 lawsuit initially filed by the family against the city school system.

The police began an investigation in December of 2011, following a phone call from the girls mother, alleging that the student had been groped. The mother told police that she had earlier received assurances from the school regarding the man’s character when she raised concerns that he was taking the girl out of class repeatedly for mentoring purposes. The suspect also apparently mentored several other girls at the school, whom he also removed from class repeatedly.

The incident prompting the civil suit occurred after school in December of 2011, when the man reportedly drove the young girl to a nearby park, and after watching some movies on an ipad, began to touch the young girl’s breasts and back, and also rubbed baby oil on her back. Then, due to the park’s closing, he drove to a second location, where he attempted to kiss the girl on the side of the neck. The girl then expressed her discomfort and asked to be taken home. She told police that this was not the first incident.

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An insurance company is not obligated to defend or indemnify its insured in a civil claim for damages arising from acts of sexual abuse of a child, according to a Maryland court’s order. The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, ruling in Harrison v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., Civil Action No. ELH-11-1258 (D. Md., Dec. 29, 2011), denied a request for a declaratory judgment that the defendant insurance company had a duty to defend the plaintiff. After the plaintiffs in the civil sex abuse lawsuit intervened in the case, they and the insurance company each filed motions for summary judgment. The court granted the insurance company’s motion and entered a declaratory judgment in its favor. It denied the intervenors’ summary judgment motion.

The chain of events leading to the declaratory judgment action began with a criminal case. William L. Harrison was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in August 2009, and received a ten-year prison sentence. See Harrison v. Maryland, 17 A.3d 144 (Md. Spec. App. 2011). According to the appellate court that affirmed the conviction in 2011, Harrison approached the father of the victim, identified as S.B., in the summer of 2006. He reportedly asked the father if S.B., who was thirteen years old at the time, would be interested in working with him on landscaping and other jobs. S.B. worked for Harrison part-time until the summer of 2007, when S.B. told his mother that Harrison had “touched him inappropriately.” Id. at 145. Harrison was indicted in January 2008.

S.B.’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against Harrison in February 2010 for damages related to the abuse of S.B., identified in that lawsuit as S. Doe. The Does pleaded five causes of action against Harrison: negligence, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a claim for medical expenses. Harrison in turn filed suit against his insurer, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, seeking a declaratory judgment as to its duty to defend him in the Does’ lawsuit. The Does intervened, and both they and the insurance company moved for summary judgment.

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In Maryland, the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a former Catholic priest are reportedly close to reaching a settlement agreement with the family of a man that the priest is accused of sexually abusing 17 years ago.

Jerome Cliffe died in February 2005 when he was 22-years-old of a drug overdose. His parents, Harry and Cathy Cliffe, filed a $2 million wrongful death lawsuit against the archdiocese and former priest Steven P. Girard last year.

The Cliffe family’s lawsuit claiming that Girard’s actions toward Jerome when he was an 8-year-old caused their son to experience post-traumatic stress syndrome and subsequently abuse drugs. The sex abuse allegedly started while Girard was a pastor at St. Clement Church and supervised the Catholic school in Lansdowne where Jerome was a third grader.

In Maryland, two men, former volunteer firefighters in Anne Arundel County have filed a sex abuse lawsuit claiming that Louis A. D’Camera, a former president of Odenton Volunteer Fire Company, sexually abused them on multiple occasions when they were teenage recruits. The men said that fire officials ignored them when they reported the incidents. The Anne Arundel County government and the fire company are named in the sex abuse lawsuit.

The two men are accusing D’Camera of repeatedly forcing them to perform sexual acts, take off their clothes, and sit on his lap. The former volunteer firefighters say that when they reported the incidents to supervisors, they were told not to say anything and that the matter would be taken care of. One of the plaintiffs says that defamatory statements made about him resulted in the loss of a job opportunity.

D’Camera was a 26-year veteran of the fire company and a member of the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Hall of Fame. He killed himself in 2005 after Baltimore police charged him with perverted practice after seeing him perform a sexual act on a man.

In 2003, according to the lawsuit, D’Camera had ordered one of the plaintiffs, who was 19-years-old at the time, to take off his clothes and masturbate in front of him. D’Camera called it a “rite of passage.” The plaintiff says he was sexually assaulted over 15 times.

When he finally reported the incidents to police in 2005, Robert L. Rose, now the the Odenton fire company president and Chief Charles Rogers informed the volunteer that he needed to “get over it.” Another captain told him that he should leave the company because he had made lots of adversaries. The volunteer soon resigned.

The other plaintiff, who had resigned after a series of assaults and then returned to the company after D’Camera’s suicide, also was allegedly verbally harassed by company members after filing his assault complaint with police. He also alleges that he was assigned the undesireable jobs.

The two plaintiffs say that the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company knew about D’Camera’s habit of ordering volunteers to take off their clothes. D’Camera was charged with the third-degree sexual assault of another teenage volunteer in 1998. In several suicide notes, D’Camera allegedly confessed to assaulting the two plaintiffs. No criminal charges were filed because D’Camera was already dead.

If you have been sexually assaulted or molested, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation. If your sexual assault took place because others created an environment that allowed the crime to occur or did not take enough safety precautions to ensure that no such crime could take place, you also may have grounds to file an inadequate security claim or lawsuit against these parties.

Lawsuit claims sexual abuse at Odenton fire unit,, January 25, 2008
Sex abuse claimed at firehouse,, January 23, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Odenton Volunteer Fire Company

Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association Hall of Fame

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