Sexual abuse allegations against people in trusted positions have increasingly been brought to light in our society. In this era, people in positions of power within our schools and our churches are becoming less likely to get away with the harm they have caused for child victims throughout Maryland and throughout the country. If you or a loved one was the victim of sexual abuse, grooming, or sexual assault in Maryland, contact Bennet and Heyman, P.A. to discuss your case.
Our Maryland attorneys for victims of sexual abuse at school or church can discuss what happened to you and work on taking your claim to court. Our lawyers can help you fight for justice and compensation for the harm you suffered. To schedule a free, completely confidential consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (410) 845-2385.
The statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse Claims in Maryland
As a survivor of sexual abuse, the trauma you suffered may stay with you for years before you feel comfortable putting a name on the abuse that happened to you. This means that it could be years or even decades before you come forward, or before others come forward against the same institution and give you the confidence to speak up about what happened to you. Fortunately, the law in Maryland gives you a long time limit to file your claim in many cases.
Nearly every type of criminal or civil lawsuit has a “statute of limitations” that defines the outside time limit on how long you have to bring your case. For criminal cases of sexual abuse, the government typically has no time limit for bringing these charges. As a private citizen filing a civil lawsuit against your abuser, you typically have until 20 years after you turn 18 to file your case. This means that if your case is not filed by your 38th birthday, it may be too late.
Note that the way this system works, you may file a civil lawsuit separately from any criminal charges. As the victim of the incident, you may be able to report the case to the police and allow them to file criminal charges. However, you may choose to handle things more privately by filing a civil lawsuit, either in addition to the criminal case or on its own. If there is also a criminal case filed against your abuser, you have 3 years after the conviction in that case to file your civil suit. This means that if criminal charges were filed after your statute of limitations has expired, you may be able to latch on to the 3-year time limit after a criminal conviction and still file your civil case.
Talk to an attorney about the specific timing involved in your case. In many recent cases, these laws will apply. However, older cases where the abuse took place many years ago may be governed by the statutes of limitations that were effective at the time of the incident. However, intentional acts to hide the offense by moving or rotating staff, covering up evidence, and performing other deceptive acts may allow you to extend your deadline to file.
Suing Churches and Schools for Sexual Abuse as a Minor
In many cases of sexual abuse of a minor that take place in an institution like a school or the church, the abuser is not the only responsible party. Certainly, the individual who took advantage of a child victim is personally responsible for their actions, but the institution may also share a portion of the blame.
Schools and churches owe children in their care a legal duty to keep them safe, to properly monitor and screen their staff, and to report any violence or crimes against their students to the police. Many of the problems with institutional abuse in a church or school occur when the institution works to protect themselves and their staff instead of the child. In these cases, the institution may be complicit in the crime by rotating or moving staff so that they are out of sight and out of mind of the community they harmed. These institutions may also falsify or modify records to hide allegations under less offensive phrasing or make only casual reprimands of their staff.
Institutions that are aware that their staff or faculty have sexually abused minors should, instead, report the crime to the police, notify the parents, and be transparent, putting the safety and security of the children over their staff members.
If you were abused under circumstances where the school or church covered up the allegations or was complicit in hiding or participating in the abuse, you may sue not only the abuser but also the institution that allowed this to happen. Talk to an attorney about how to proceed with your case for compensation and damages.
Maryland Attorneys for Sexual Abuse Victims at Schools and Churches
If you or a loved one was abused by a teacher, priest, administrator, or other individual involved with a church or school, contact the Maryland school and church child sexual abuse victim attorneys at Bennet and Heyman today. Our attorneys represent victims of childhood sexual abuse, whether the victims are still minors or grown adults seeking justice and compensation for the harm they suffered. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with our attorneys, call our law offices today at (410) 845-2385.