Despite an onslaught of national scrutiny on the mishandling of college rape cases, high schools and middle schools have failed to appropriately report and investigate reports of abuse. As a result, sexual abuse and assault continues to run rampant throughout the lower grades.

failure to report abuse

“However bad you think that a college campus’ lack of accountability is on these cases,” Colby Bruno, senior legal counsel at Boston’s Victim Rights Law Center, told the Huffington Post, “I think go back 15 years before and that’s what you’re looking at for high schools.”

One of the larger concerns is that schools fail not to prevent sexual abuse from occurring, but fail to react accordingly. After a victim reported an sexual assault in September 2014 at the Thornton Fractional North High School in Chicago, the school kept the accused perpetrator in the same classes as the victim despite school officials knowing about the assault. No restrictions were put on the alleged offender, nor was there any type of information disclosed to the community that a sexual assault had been reported on school grounds.

The school justified such a reaction in court by stating that keeping the alleged assailant and victim in the same class and field trips wasn’t an issue because she was not sexually abused again. However, once the boy in question did threaten to shoot the victim in the head a couple weeks later, he was finally expelled.

In another ongoing case, a high school girl reported to officials that she had been sexually assaulted on school grounds by a fellow student after classes. The school determined that the sexual abuse was consensual and chose to suspend both the girl and her alleged perpetrator.

Such actions are against the law. Anyone who reports that he or she has been sexually assaulted is guaranteed to be protected. California is one of the few states taking strong, proactive steps to ensure sexual abuse at schools does not go unresolved.

California includes educators and other child care providers and supervisors on its list of mandated reporters. Those who do not report abuse face as much as six months in prison and/or up to a $1000 fine. Teachers must report directly to the county’s child welfare department or the police both by phone and with a follow up written account. They are further protected from any negative legal consequences even if no sexual abuse is found.

Source: Huffington Post


Wardens from California’s two largest women’s prisons retired early amid allegations of rampant inmate abuse. One of the institutions faces serious allegations of physical and sexual abuse, while the other has a suicide rate eight times the national average for female prisoners.

prison abuse

The nonprofit Prison Law Office, which investigates prison abuse, worked in tandem with a number of attorneys representing inmates to conduct joint interviews and investigations of the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. Don Specter, director of Prison Law Office, pushed for the major leadership changes after their investigations found a host of systematic problems at the facility.

“There are serious problems there, including verbal abuse of prisoners, failure to protect them from other prisoners, contraband, sexual abuse — mostly in the form of: ‘If you do me a favor, I’ll do you a favor’ — that kind of thing,” Spector said in an interview with the LA Times. “There’s a lot of fear, and fear of retaliation for reporting misconduct.”

The investigation also revealed a history guards permitting fights between inmates, use of unneeded force and demeaning names, and retaliation against those inmates who stand up.

Meanwhile, investigations are ongoing at the California Institution for Women as Sen. Connie Levya (D-Chino) is demanding for the state auditor to look into the institution’s high rate of suicides and suicide attempts, some of which have been completely unexpected for the families of the deceased.

Take for instance the April suicide of Erika Rocha. After 22 years of incarceration, Rochna had a hopeful parole hearing schedule for the day after she was found dead in her cell. Her body was discovered hung with a noose fashioned from a bedsheet and tied to the cell’s heating vent. Rohna left no suicide note and, according to family, had been in good spirits.

The warden of the facility, Kimberly Hughes, retired last week along with Deborah Johnson, warden at the Chowchilla facility. While initially state corrections officials called the retirements routine, the head of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilliation has since told The Associated Press that due to identified problems it had been “determined that change in the leadership at those prisions is necessary.”

Spokesman Jeffrey Callison did not detail those problems but continued on to say that the group is committed to making the necessary changes in its prisons “to comport with our vision of safe, rehabilitative environments for inmates.”

For some, the changes come too late.


This week, St. George’s School in Middleton, Rhode Island finally agreed to provide compensation for 30 former students who were sexually abused by school staff. The abuse occurred from the early 1970s to the early 2000s. The agreement comes on the heels of the filing of a similar sexual assault lawsuit against a private Los Angeles school, and just a few years after the notorious Penn State scandal.

sexual abuse at school

Over the past several years, there have been many high-profile child sex abuse scandals involving abuse that occurred decades before. These are tragedies that both highlight the long-term effects of sexual abuse and the need for the justice system to understand such effects. Due to the nature of these crimes and the impact they have on the psyche, experts are advocating for the suspension of statutes of limitations in these types of cases.

In most states, once victims reach a certain age, their attackers cannot be charged with crimes related to the abuse, nor can the accusers seek justice in civil courts. In California, civil claims of sexual abuse must be made within 8 years of becoming a legal adult (meaning before the victim’s 26th birthday). However, the state has recently adopted an extension of this statute based on when the discovery of child sexual abuse or its psychological effects occur. For instance, this ‘discovery’ of the sexual abuse might occur when memories of the abuse arise through a therapy session, after which the person has three years to file a civil claim.

This rule is designed to counter the issue of prosecuting dangerous molesters whose victims have repressed the memories, sometimes for decades following the legal statute of limitations.

Such is the case both in the Marlborough School suit and the St. George’s School suit. In the California case, the plaintiff remembered the actual sexual encounters but did not understand the long-term psychological impacts of the abuse until she underwent therapy and connected her abuse with that of another student victimized by the same attacker. In the St. George’s suit, one of the victims similarly chose repression, stating “I had buried all that deeply inside of myself in a box, I didn’t want to bring it out again.”

However, because childhood sexual abuse has such a wide-ranging list of long-term effects, including depression and self-destructive behaviors like alcoholism, victims must have access to justice long after the abuse occurs.


Police took David Lowe, 54, into custody last Tuesday on suspicion of secretly filming his disabled daughter’s caregivers when they used the restroom or changed their clothes. The arrest for invasion of privacy came following a yearlong sexual abuse investigation of the Orange County videographer that started when one of the caregivers saw images of herself on Lowe’s computer.

abuse lawsuit

Brea Police Lt. Darrin Devereux issued a detailed statement of sexual abuse allegations against Lowe. He stands accused of filming at least ten caregivers who were employed in overseeing his mentally impaired adult daughter. In addition to his hidden cameras, Lowe employed special ruses such as requesting caregivers to help his daughter in learning to fasten a bra by demonstration. The caregivers who acquiesced to the request were then secretly recorded as they gave step-by-step instructions while partly nude.

The investigation into Lowe’s actions included a search of his home computers, located in the 900 block of East Almond Avenue in Brea, California. During this search, police found images of child pornography in addition to what has been listed as “numerous videos” of the employed caregivers.

Lowe’s attorney declined to comment to news reporters following his Thursday court hearing. Lowe is being held on a $50,000 bail and is due back in court on Tuesday. He faces one felony charge of possessing child pornography and ten misdemeanor counts of invading someone’s privacy by use of a camera or similar recording device.

Lt. Deveraux closed his statement on the case by stating, “We believe there are many other caregivers that may have worked for Mr. Lowe and if they think they have disrobed in his home, that they’re asked to call the Brea Police Department.

Any caregiver employed who has worked in Lowe’s home is being requested to contact Detective Irene Crews at irenec@cityofbrea.net.

In additions to facing criminal sexual abuse charges, Lowe is also likely to face civil lawsuits from those caregivers whom he photographed. These are cases of invasion of privacy in which victims may have suffered emotionally, physically, or otherwise.

Those who are unknowingly photographed in unwanted situations may be able to recover financial compensation for the harm suffered from the defendant. Certain invasion of privacy civil lawsuits may also be able to seek punitive damages, which are damages designed to punish the defendant and set a sharp example for others, such as low-wage caregivers requiring special protections for their intimate work.

If you have been injured or abused and are in need of a personal injury lawyer in Torrance or Los Angeles, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.

Source: LA Times, 21 July 2016


Top executives at the USA Gymnastics organizations, a leading Olympic organizations, failed to alert outside authorities of the many sexual abuse allegations against its coaches–relying instead on policies that enable predators to sexually abuse and molest gymnasts long after executives received warnings.

usa gymnastics sexual abuse

The unveiling of such allegations come after an IndyStar investigation uncovered several instances of children suffering the consequences, This includes the release of a ‘Jane Doe’ lawsuit filed in 2013 by a former gymnast who had been secretly videotaped by former coach William McCabe whilst changing. This lawsuit claims USA Gymnastics was negligent as it had received four prior sexual abuse complaints against McCabe but allowed him to continue coaching in ‘good standing’, enabling him to work with the then-11-year-old defendant.

The larger story appears to repeat many of the same elements at play in the 2011 Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State. In both cases, the institutions appear more interested in protecting their reputations and the coaches than those they reportedly exist to serve. This includes a failure to report on the terrible crimes occurring on their properties.

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun says the organization has no plans to investigate current allegations raised against authorities who failed to act on sexual abuse allegations, including current USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny and former USAG head Robert Colarossi.

“We do not intend to investigate. We couldn’t possibly investigate allegations of misconduct in 47 different (national governing bodies). We do what I think is a pretty state-of-the-art policy regarding abuse and misconduct, not just sexual misconduct, so we will watch those proceedings,” Blackmun said Friday.

This does little to console those victims who watched their abusers remain in positions of authority for far too long. Such is the case of former U.S. national team coach Doug Boger who has been accused of sexually or physically abusing at least 10 former gymnasts. One of the accusers, Charmaine Carnes, told reporters she was sexually abused by Boeger starting when she was 8 or 9-years-old and that such abuse continued until she was well into her teens.

In a recent interview, Carnes compared the situation to the Catholic Church wherein coaches know that the institution by large favors their side and will enable them to get away with abuse.

If someone you love is being abused within an institution, it’s time to take a stand. Contact our personal injury attorneys today.