Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

484834_82220165.jpgAn 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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320px-Penn_State_kickoff.jpgPenn State University is reportedly seeking to settle the civil lawsuits filed by victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky after a Pennsylvania jury convicted Sandusky on forty-five counts of sexual abuse. This reported intent includes lawsuits that were already filed against the university, and those that are sure to follow. Penn State proposed a process to “address the victims’ concerns and compensate them for claims” related to allegations of abuse by Sandusky and both inaction and concealment by the university. In all likelihood, the university wants to resolve all potential claims quickly. Several lawsuits are already pending in Pennsylvania courts.

Sandusky worked in the Penn State football program for decades, retiring in 1999 but staying on with an “emeritus” title. He founded The Second Mile, a charity intended to help at-risk youth, in 1977. Prosecutors alleged that he used the charity to find his victims. They also alleged that the university knew about allegations of abuse going back years but failed to follow up on reports and investigations. In addition to the charges against Sandusky, prosecutors charged several Penn State administrators with perjury and obstruction of justice. After a trial lasting about a week, a jury convicted Sandusky on all but three charges of sexual abuse, forty-five in total.

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Two minors are suing MENTOR Maryland Inc. and Stephen James Merritt for Maryland sexual abuse. They are seeking over $456 million. MENTOR Maryland is a private foster care placement agency and Merritt is a 39-year-old foster dad from Mardela Springs who accused of the abuse. Earlier this year he was charged and indicted for allegedly sexually abusing seven boys inside his residence.

Following the Maryland sex abuse allegations against Merritt, the children staying at his home were taken away from there right away. Until then, Merritt and his wife were licensed as foster parents. Also arrested and charged with sex abuse of a minor at around the same time as Merritt was his uncle, Tracy G. Bayne, who lives close to his nephew.

In their Maryland personal injury case, the victims are claiming that the foster care placement agency did not meet recognized standards when it failed to routinely visit the home, supervise the kids, or respond to complaints made against Merritt. They are claiming that MENTOR breached its duty to protect and supervise the juveniles and neglected to provide them with a safe place to live. Meantime, MENTOR is maintaining that not only does it conduct background checks, but it also makes regular home visits and does health and safety checks on a quarterly basis.

Psychiatrist Nelson H. Hendler is defending himself in a case brought by a former patient who says that he sexually abused her. This is not the first accusation against the once prominent physician, who lost his license to practice medicine in February 2006 after the Maryland Board of Physicians determined that he committed sexual misconduct against several patients and gave out medication even though he didn’t have the proper permit.

The woman who brought this case claims that Hendler acted with her the way he did with his other patient victims. He allegedly convinced a number of patients that he was the only person who could help them and then took sexual advantage of them. Hendler is also accused of giving medication to women, even those who didn’t have prescriptions for the drugs, in exchange for sexual favors. Hendler has already settled a number of Maryland injury lawsuits against him from some of the women that are alleging medical malpractice and sexual abuse.

In 2007, Hendler submitted an Alford plea to one count of possession with intent to distribute drugs. The psychiatrist acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him but did not plead guilty. He received a probation sentence before judgment, which caused a conviction to be staved off.

In Maryland, Anne Arundel County and the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company have agreed to pay $175,000 (and reasonable legal fees) to two men who claim that a former president of the volunteer fire department molested them. The county and the fire company, however, continue to deny the allegations that Louis D’Camera sexually abused the two men and that other supervisors covered up the incidents. An attorney for the county says the settlement is to avoid the expense of further litigation that could result from the ex-volunteer firefighters’ Maryland sex abuse lawsuit that was filed in US District Court in Baltimore last year.

The two men say they were 16 and 19 when the alleged abuse incidents started. The ex-firefighters claim that D’Camera made them take off their clothes and sit on his lap on a number of occasions while he berated them about their poor performance at school and at the station. The older victim, who is now 25, says the former fire department president forced him to masturbate and touched him inappropriately at least 12 times over a 2- year period. D’Camera killed himself in 2005 after police found him with a male prostitute.

The plaintiffs say they reported the alleged Anne Arundel County sex abuse incidents to supervisors who rebuffed them. The older victim said he reported what was happening to him as early as late 2003 or early 2004, and on more than one occasion, but no one contacted police until right before D’Camera’s suicide. The supervisors claim they didn’t feel they could report the incidents until Baltimore City Police caught D’Camera with the hooker.

In Howard County Circuit Court, Judge Joseph Manck dismissed two out of five civil claims against former teacher Kirsten Kinley in the Maryland sexual abuse lawsuit against her. Kinley, a former teacher at Hammond Middle School, had asked that the entire lawsuit be dismissed.

Kinley pleaded guilty to a third-degree sex offense for having a sexual relationship with the plaintiff in 2004 when he was 15. She is serving her 18-month sentence in the Howard County Detention Center.

The student, now 18, who never studied directly under Kinley, sued the former teacher for sexual abuse in February. The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges negligence, battery, and emotional distress.

A DC teenager, who was raped by a counselor at a Pennsylvania clinic in 2005, has filed a federal lawsuit suing Washington DC and nonprofit group KidsPeace Corporation for personal injury. The girl, who is a former ward of the city, had been consigned to the clinic, which is run by KidsPeace. In her lawsuit, the teenager says she was sent to the KidsPeace clinic despite reports of previous abuse incidents at the Pennsylvania site.

The plaintiff alleges that the city therefore plaid a role in allowing the brutal sexual assault incident to occur. KidsPeace counselor, Jerry McChristian, has admitted to raping the girl, and he pled guilty to institutional rape in 2006.

This is not the first report of children under welfare becoming the victims of abuse, and Washington DC has agreed to send less children to remote clinics. Just this month, a monitor appointed by the US Congress reported that children at a Florida clinic were being treated like “garbage.” DC officials only found out about the abuse through media reports. In 2007, schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee found out that several children under KidsPeace’s care had suffered broken arms while under “therapeutic restraint.” Rhee is no longer sending kids to KidsPeace clinics.

Sexual Assault Crimes and Negligent Security

If you were sexually assaulted on a premise, you may be able to hold the landlord, property owner, premise manager, or another party liable for the harm that you have suffered. Premise manager, owners, or any entities in charge are supposed to implement the proper safety measures to make sure that no physical or property crimes are committed so that visitors, patrons, patients, customers, and employees do not get hurt, assaulted, raped, robbed, or murdered while on a premise.

If there is has been a history of crimes committed on the premise or in the area, then the premise owner or manager must secure the property so that similar crimes cannot happen again. If you or your child has been placed under the care of a government entity, and you were injured because they were negligent in their hiring of staff or they failed to implement the proper safety/security measures, you may be able to sue the liable party or parties for personal injury.

Our Washington DC personal injury law firm can help you explore your legal options.

Teen sues D.C. for $10M, saying city put her in clinic where she was raped, Examiner.com, June 19, 2008
Ex-KidsPeace counselor admits to sex with teen, Isaccorp.org, July 20, 2006
Youth Counselor Sentenced in Sex Case, Action News, November 30, 2006

Related Web Resources:

KidsPeace lays off 79 employees, Mccall.com, October 20, 2007

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A male Howard County teenager has filed a $3 million sex abuse lawsuit against teacher Kristen Ann Kinley. The teenage, now 18, says that he continues to experience major emotional trauma because of the alleged incidents of “sexual battery and extreme and outrageous conduct.”

Kinley, a special education teacher, has already pled guilty to third-degree sexual offense. She had sexual contact with the teenager at her apartment on more than one occasion. She is currently serving 18 months in jail.

Also named in the sexual abuse lawsuit are the state of Maryland, the Howard County Board of Education, and Hammond Middle School Principal Kerry McGowan.

The lawsuit alleges that Kinley intentionally exploited a child who was being treated for depression when the sexual assault and battery occurred. The teenager was 15 when the offenses occurred.

The suit accuses the other defendants of breaching their duty to protect students from employees and cites a pattern of inappropriate sexual behavior between children and teachers in Howard County’s school system.

Alan Meade Beier, also a Howard County teacher at River Hill High, has been charged with inappropriate sexual behavior with three students.

Former Howard County teacher Joseph Samuel Ellis was convicted of indecent exposure, sex abuse with a minor, and telephone misuse early this year. Ellis taught history and government at Glenelg High.

Sex abuse is a crime. Victims of sexual abuse are entitled to file claims and lawsuits for the pain, suffering, and trauma caused by the incidents. One of our Maryland or Washington D.C. sex abuse lawyers can explore your legal options during a free consultation.

A 2007 Associated Press probe found that over the last five years, there have been about 2,500 reported cases of sex abuse by perpetrators who were teachers. 1801 of these cases involved young victims. Many incidents of sex abuse are not reported.

Teen abused by teacher files $3 million civil suit, Baltimore Sun, March 14, 2008
AP: Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools, Washington Post, October 21, 2007
Related Web Resources:

Howard County Board of Education

Hammond Middle School

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In Maryland, Baltimore County legislator Eric M. Bromwell has introduced a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for filing sex abuse lawsuits.

The bill calls for the elimination in 2009 of the statute of limitations for filing a sex abuse lawsuit. If passed, the statute would go up, from the victim’s 25th birthday to his or her 50th birthday. A yearlong window could allow sex abuse victims to file their injury lawsuits, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

Del. Eric Bromwell said that removing the statute of limitations would allow the people that may not feel ready to file a civilsex abuse lawsuit until years after the incident(s), to sue their assailants for damages.

In Towson, Maryland, Calvert Hall College High School has expressed opposition toward the bill. Several sex abuse charges have already been made against an ex-chaplain and teacher at the school.

The two priests allegedly abused at least 14 people. The school expressed concern that removing the current statute of limitations could allow for lawsuits against the school that cannot be filed otherwise and that this would take a financial toll on the school.

Calvert Hall alumnus Bob Russell says that as a 15-year-old teenager, over 30 years ago, one of the priests molested him twice. Russell has been unable to file a personal injury lawsuit because the statute of limitations for his case has passed.

Bromwell is a graduate of Calvert Hall College High School.

The Web site Darkness to Light offers the following statistics on child sex abuse:

• 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.
• 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.
• 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the Internet.
• Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under.

• An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today.

Many of these incidents go unreported. Child victims of sex abuse may even repress these memories for years.

As a victim of sex abuse, you are entitled to file a civil lawsuit for damages. The best way to do this is to speak with an experienced Maryland or Washington D.C. injury law firm right away.

Bill would make it easier to file sex-abuse suits, Baltimoresun.com, February 7, 2008
Lawmakers consider ‘window’ for victims of child sex abuse, Examiner.com, February 7, 2008
Statistics Surrounding Child Sexual Abuse, Darkness2light.org

Related Web Resources:

Statistics, Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
Sexual Abuse / Trauma, All About Counseling.com

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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, BaltimoreSun.com, January 25, 2008
Sex abuse claimed at firehouse, HometownAnnapolis.com, January 23, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Odenton Volunteer Fire Company

Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association Hall of Fame

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