On Saturday, three people were shot inside the 5th Avenue Tavern in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. As has been reported, the shooting left one dead, and wounded two bystanders.
HARRISBURG, Pa. - At least 19 young men have settled with Penn State over assertions of abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, according to lawyers for the claimants.
Crime victims and their families should be aware they can recover from businesses on whose premises they or a loved one is assaulted or murdered. These lawsuits can be brought against many types of establishments, including apartment buildings, hotels, shopping malls, convenience stores, concert arenas, or amusement parks. The law requires any business that is open to the public to exercise reasonable care to protect patrons from violent criminals. This often means business owners need to provide adequate security, including guards, metal detectors, or surveillance cameras. If, for example, a shopping mall fails to monitor an unlit parking garage, and a patron is murdered or raped there, the shopping mall's owner may be liable. Before an inadequate security lawsuit against a business will succeed, however, the plaintiff often must show the owner should have reasonably anticipated the crime. In practice, this means a crime victim's lawsuit against a business owner is more likely to succeed if there is a history of crime on the premises. If a convenience store is repeatedly robbed, yet the owner fails to install cameras or hire security guards, and a patron is later shot in the store, the patron's subsequent lawsuit is more likely to succeed.
Today, photographs can be shared in an instant through mobile phones via the Internet. Unfortunately, this had led to a growth in "sexting." Now ubiquitous, "sexting" is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. In fact, In August 2012, the word "sexting" was listed for the first time in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. The phenomenon is particularly prevalent among teens, many of whom naively think it harmless. Sadly, though, "sexting" can have disastrous consequences. The images are sometimes shared with others, and can quickly circulate around a school. In fact, a 2012 study estimated that 88% of self-made explicit images are "stolen" from their original upload location, and made available on other websites, in particular porn sites collecting sexual images of children and young people. The report highlighted the risk of severe depression for those that lose control of their sexually explicit images and videos. There have been several high profile stories of young girls committing suicide after their sexually explicit images were shared. Parents should be aware their child's school may be held liable for failing to curb the dissemination of "sexts" depicting their son or daughter.
David Guinto, a seventh grade teacher at a Richmond, California elementary school was arrested in front of his students on serious sexual abuse charges. The charges stemmed from abuse that allegedly occurred at the Making Waves Charter School. Guinto left Making Waves while the investigation was pending and obtained a job at Mira Vista elementary school. It is unclear whether there are any alleged victims from Mira Vista or whether school officials from Mira Vista contacted Making Waves prior to hiring Guinto. If there were victims at Mira Vista, they may be able to pursue a claim against the school district.
Robert Allen Lane, the former principal at Collinsville Christian Academy in Collinsville, Illinois has been charged with twice trying to sexually abuse a former student. Both incidents allegedly happened on campus during business hours. Police say they think there might be additional victims. Lane worked for the school system for many years, so it will be interesting to see whether evidence exists that school officials were aware of the abuse. If so, the victims may be able to pursue a civil lawsuit against the Academy.
Both sexual assaults and sexual harassment exist in the workplace, and employers can be held liable for both sexual assaults and sexual harassment. Sexual assaults or sexual harassment in the workplace can constitute a sexually hostile environment. This is a violation of Title VII of the United States Code, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), which prohibits discrimination against an employee on the basis of sex.
When sexual abuse or harassment is committed by a state actor, such as a teacher or police officer, or a state actor facilitates the abuse or harassment, then the state actor and/or entity can be held liable pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. In order to prove this, a victim must show that he or she was deprived of a constitutionally protected right by a person or persons who work for local, state, or federal government.
Over the last several years, all 50 states have passed laws that require certain people to report allegations of child sexual abuse to appropriate authorities. In Pennsylvania, for example, any person who comes into contact with children in the course of their employment must report to the Department of Public Welfare when they suspect child sexual abuse has occurred. With some variation, the same rule applies in every state. Forty-nine states require teachers to report suspected instances of child abuse.
As we have previously written, it is imperative that victims of sexual abuse understand how the Statute of Limitations in the state where they were abused affects their rights. After the Statute of Limitations has run, a lawsuit can no longer be filed, and a victim will be left with no civil remedy.