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What Responsibility Do Schools and Churches Have In Preventing Sexual Abuse?

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What Responsibility Do Schools and Churches Have In Preventing Sexual Abuse?

Schools and churches are meant to provide a safe and secure environment for children and young adults. As such, school and church leaders should have a firm understanding of the legal requirements they must meet in order to prevent sexual abuse from occurring on their premises. When their policies fail, or they turn a blind eye to victims, these organizations can be held responsible for their negligence.

The attorneys at Andreozzi + Foote discuss the responsibilities of schools and churches in preventing sexual abuse, including Title IX, and explain why survivors should seek legal representation for their cases.

Are Schools Legally Required to Prevent Sexual Abuse on Campus?

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding. In other words, this law applies to any federally funded elementary and secondary school, university, and college. Absolutely all students are covered by Title IX, regardless of their gender, nationality, or enrollment status – meaning it applies to international students, visiting students, foreign citizens, and even prospective students visiting a school campus.

An important aspect of Title IX is that it requires schools to take reasonable steps to respond to, prevent, and eliminate sexual harassment and assault on their campuses. All educational institutions should have a comprehensive sexual misconduct policy, implement educational programs, and be prepared to respond promptly and effectively to reports of sexual misconduct.

In addition, schools must also provide victims with support services, such as access to a counselor or academic accommodations, while ensuring that the victims are not subject to retaliation.

Can Victims of School Sexual Abuse File a Title IX Lawsuit in Addition to an Administrative Complaint?

If a school fails to adhere to the requirements of Title IX and a student ends up being sexually abused, that student may be able to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which is the federal entity responsible for enforcing Title IX. The victim may also file a police report and initiate a private civil lawsuit against the school and the responsible party.

Filing a lawsuit and a police report does not affect your rights to file a complaint under Title IX with the OCR. By filing a police report, you can get law enforcement to investigate the case and file criminal charges if applicable. However, the only way to receive damages compensation and hold the at-fault party responsible for what happened is to file a civil lawsuit with the help of an attorney.

Are There Any Laws Holding Churches and Religious Institutions Liable for Sexual Abuse?

When it comes to churches and religious organizations, laws such as Title IX may not usually be applicable. This is especially true when an educational institution is run by a religious entity, as Title IX allows for certain religious exemptions if following the Title IX requirements would go against certain religious values and beliefs of the institution. However, it is still possible to hold churches liable for sexual abuse cases on the basis of negligence. Depending on the case, criminal charges may also be filed against the perpetrator.

In other words, victims of church sexual abuse may be able to file a civil lawsuit proving that the church was negligent in preventing sexual misconduct among employees, volunteers, church members, or clergy members. An attorney can help build a strong case to prove the religious institution’s negligence and to help the victim recover compensation for their damages.

How Can a Sexual Abuse Attorney Help?

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse in school or in church, talk to the attorneys at Andreozzi + Foote. Our legal team is passionate about standing up for the rights of sexual abuse victims, and we are here to be your legal ally and help you make your voice heard. Contact us at 866-311-8640 and request a confidential consultation and case analysis to learn more about your legal options for filing a civil lawsuit against your school or church.

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