Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse Injury Attorney

A west Pasco County parent has sued the school district, alleging its negligence allowed her child to be sexually abused several times by a Ridgewood High teacher at the school campus.

The teacher was arrested in March 2018 and faces two charges of sexual assault of a minor child by a custodial authority.

The family contends that the school district should be held financially responsible, as it failed to properly supervise the teen or the teacher, and it did not provide adequate security as a precaution to “foreseeable criminal acts on the premises.” The family argues that the district should have known about prior instances of sexual misconduct by employees against students, and done something about it.

The complaint says the victim suffered physical and psychological injuries, and incurred medical expenses for treatment. It asks for a judgment in excess of $15,000.

The physical, mental, and emotional effects of sexual abuse and assault are very real and far-reaching. Victims often struggle for years following sexual assault or abuse. In many cases, victims find need therapy, counseling, medication,and more in order to heal. Treatment can undoubtedly be beneficial, but also costly, which can be be even more stress added on victims who are already struggling to move forward with their lives.

Our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton offer compassionate legal representation for victims of sexual abuse and assault. Many people do not realize that they can take civil action against the responsible party. We can help you pursue financial compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more.

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A caregiver at a Florida facility for people with disabilities has been accused of impregnating a resident who gave birth in 2015.

Authorities say the 58-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on charges of lewd and lascivious battery on a disabled person.

An arrest affidavit says the man helped care for adult clients at a facility in Rockledge.

Staff members in 2015 discovered the female client was pregnant. The baby was born a few months later and adopted by the woman’s family.

Police say the woman has the mental capacity of a small child.

Authorities say the man had previously denied having sexual contact with the woman and voluntarily submitted a DNA sample last year. Investigators say the man’s sample came back a match with the child, resulting in his arrest.

According to the Disability and Abuse Project, which focuses on physical, sexual and emotional abuse of people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, 7 out of 10 Americans with developmental disabilities report they were sexually and/or physically assaulted, or neglected, or abused in some manner. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice reported 1.3 million crimes against persons with disabilities. Disabled women and men are three times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than the general population, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s data.

If you have a loved one who is or was being abused by a caregiver, our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. Your consultatio is completely free of charge and you are under no obligation to us. We want to make sure that you are armed with the knowledge that you need to hold the responsible party accountable for their despicable actions.

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A Lifetime documentary series covering distressing allegations against R. Kelly has reportedly prompted a criminal investigation in Georgia, while prosecutors in Chicago are urging any victims to come forward.

Investigators from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office in Atlanta have tried to touch base with some of the women featured in the six-part series, according to reports.

Kelly, who’s faced numerous accusations of sexual misconduct, which he’s denied, is accused of manipulating women and controlling their lives.

Authorities involved in the probe have contacted a former girlfriend of Kelly who has spoken out multiple times about the alleged abuse she endured, according to reports.

Cook County (Chicago) State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, held a press conference Tuesday encouraging any victims to come forward, calling the allegations against Kelly covered in the Lifetime series “deeply, deeply disturbing.”

Foxx said she’s been in touch with people who claim to have information regarding allegations in Cook County, and said her office has received calls from relatives of people who have been in contact with Kelly in recent years. She said that includes family members who are looking for a loved one.

Foxx noted that she has not been in touch with Fulton County officials or with Kelly himself.

The accusations against Kelly have generated renewed attention since Thursday, when Lifetime began airing its series “Surviving R. Kelly.” The investigation reportedly began after a wave of calls to officials after the series debuted.

Kelly, 52, has been accused of inappropriate behavior with multiple underage girls in the past, which he has denied. He allegedly married the late singer Aaliyah in 1994, when she was 15.

Kelly was acquitted in a highly publicized child pornography case in 2008 after being accused of appearing in a sex tape with an underage girl years earlier.

Kelly has been accused of sexually abusing minors for decades. There have been civil lawsuits and an indictment, but he’s never actually been convicted of committing any crime. There are even alleged videos and evidence that Kelly possessed child pornography floating around. He settled many civil lawsuits out of court, and throughout the years of accusations, charges, an indictment, settlements, and along with Lifetime’s latest documentary series, a new hashtag has erupted: #MuteRKelly.

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A sex abuse investigation is underway in Phoenix after a woman in a vegetative state in a healthcare facility for 10 years gave birth.

Staff at the facility had been giving round the clock care to the female patient, according to AZ Family.

She gave birth on December 29 after apparently being raped at the facility some months earlier.  

A source added that: ‘None of the staff were aware that she was pregnant until she was pretty much giving birth.’

Reports indicated that confused staff heard the woman moaning before she gave birth to the child.

Her vegetative state is a result of an incident in which she nearly drowned ten years ago.

As a result of the incident, male staff members wanting to enter the room of a female patient must be accompanied by a female staff member.

The facility issued a statement to AZ Family and said it has been in business in the valley for over 50 years and ‘has an outstanding reputation providing high quality specialized care for our patients’.

We trust that health care providers will look after not only our own welfare, but that of our children and loved ones. We expect them to be places of care, rather than abuse. Sadly, sexual predators are everywhere and prey on vulnerable people seeking medical attention.

Our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton routinely represent victims that are sexually abused in nursing homes, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other health care facilities. Health care facilities are rampant with sexual abuse. It is the facilities’ job to prevent sexual assault and abuse from happening. State law also dictates how these facilities are supposed to supervise patients, such as regular bed checks. As this case shows, these guidelines are often violated.

If you or someone you know has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a healthcare provider, please let us help you file a claim against the at-fault party. We can help you obtain a sense of justice, and most importantly, ensure that those at fault pay for their crimes.

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Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a Los Angeles auxiliary bishop following an allegation of sexual misconduct with a child in the 1990s, officials said Wednesday.

Pasadena police recommended in 2002 that the man be charged with committing a lewd act on a child, but prosecutors declined to bring charges over a lack of evidence.

The current archbishop of Los Angeles said the archdiocese learned of the claim in 2005. The archdiocese forwarded the complaint to the Vatican office handling sex abuse cases.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith imposed precautionary measures against the man and a further investigation by the archdiocese’s independent review board found the allegation to be credible.

The 69-year-old has “consistently denied any wrongdoing.” The archdiocese said it had received no other allegations against the man.

The alleged misconduct occurred while the man was a parish priest in the 1990s and the claim was never directly brought to the archdiocese.

The resignation comes during a year in which the clerical abuse scandal has exploded anew.

Hours after the man’s resignation was announced, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said her office found 500 more Catholic clergy accused of sexually abusing children than the state’s archdioceses have publicly identified.

Sadly, priests, bishops, cardinals, and other clergy members can abuse their positions of trust. If your sexual abuser is or was in a position of authority in the Catholic Church, you are certainly not alone. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys represent sexual abuse victims of all ages, including children, adults, and adults who were abused when they were children by teachers, coaches, priests, scout leaders, neighbors, relatives, or any other adults.

Our goal is to hold sexual abusers, their supervisors, and the organizations they work for accountable. While nothing we do can turn back the clock to undo the harm that a sexual abuser inflicts, the civil legal system provides one remedy, which is monetary compensation to the victim/survivor. We will fight aggressively to seek a sense of justice on your behalf.

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In a Baptist Church, the Pastor and Church leaders are looked up to by members of the congregation, especially young children. This enormous amount of power and influence the church has over its members creates dangerous opportunities for childhood sexual abuse in the Baptist faith.

The Star-Telegram investigated and discovered at least 412 allegations of sexual misconduct in 187 independent fundamental Baptist churches and their affiliated institutions, spanning 40 states and Canada.

Twenty-one abuse allegations were uncovered exclusively by the Star-Telegram, and others were documented in criminal cases, lawsuits and news reports. But victims said the number of abused is far greater because few victims ever come forward.

One hundred and sixty-eight church leaders were accused or convicted of committing sexual crimes against children, the investigation found. At least 45 of the alleged abusers continued in ministry after accusations came to the attention of church authorities or law enforcement.

This confirms that childhood sexual abuse is as prevalent in the Baptist Church as it is in the Roman Catholic Church. The crazy thing with the Baptist Church is that they have no procedures set in place for tracking abusive clergy members who are transferred out of state, for removing accused abusers from the Church, or for informing members that their officials have been accused of abuse against children. The absence of a central agency for Baptist Churches to report child molesters has resulted in church officials moving from one church to another without their new home ever learning about the history of sexual abuse.

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A Cooper City Islamic school and mosque have agreed to a multimillion-dollar legal settlement with three former students who allege a teacher sexually abused them over a decade ago.

A lawsuit filed in Broward County Circuit Court in 2014 alleged Nur-Ul-Islam Academy and mosque were negligent as a teacher, now 39, sexually abused at least three female students in their young teens from about 2004 to 2008. The women, who are now all in their mid- to late-20s, will benefit from the undisclosed amount.

The lawsuit claimed that, for at least one of the girls, the teacher allegedly would write in “code” on the blackboard in class to arrange times to meet up with her and also communicated with her through social media and late-night phone calls.

The women say the school knew of the teacher’s abuse and worked to cover it up. According to a psychologist working on the case, when the secret got out at the Islamic private school, the girls were mocked by students, teachers and the school president, who, according to the lawsuit, told one of the girls she was “equally responsible.” One girl’s family tied her up and abused her in their home, according to reports.

The lawsuit says the school’s president was approached by a parent of one of the girls who discovered a late-night phone call between their daughter and the teacher. He is alleged to acknowledge that the teacher confessed that he had improper contact with “numerous female students,” and solicited a letter of resignation from the teacher, according to the lawsuit.

According to a complaint taken by Pembroke Pines Police in 2014, a victim came forward to say she had sex with the teacher over 100 times when she was 12 to 14 years old. The teacher told her she was pretty and gave her a lot of attention, the report said, and the two spoke over the phone and by text.

The complaint said the pair met almost every weekend at either a west Broward Publix to have sex in the teacher’s car or at his home in Pembroke Pines. Similar to what was alleged in the lawsuit, the victim said they developed “codes” that the teacher wrote on the board in class to make arrangements to meet.

Police reported that the victim did not disclose the sexual relationship sooner because, “she is a member of a conservative Muslim community and it would have caused ‘shame and disgrace’ to her family.” The complaint also notes that police made contact with another former student who said that she also had a sexual relationship with the teacher when she was 15 to 16 years old.

Police made contact with the teacher and his attorney at a police station in July 2014, but the man denied any sexual relationships with either student, according to the report.

A warrant is still out for the man’s arrest, according to a Broward State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman. He was charged in 2014 with five counts of sexual battery by a person who is in a position of familial or custodial authority to a minor — which indicates that there may have been more than just three students affected — and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation. His whereabouts are not known.

The investigation is still active and charges are still pending.

Teachers are in a position of power of their students, and many look up to them as role models and authority figures. Teachers are around their students for a good majority of time each day, possibly more than their parents. When a teacher abuses his or her trust by engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct, it can cause psychological and emotional problems that may last a lifetime.

When school officials are aware that illegal behavior is happening and do nothing to stop it, both the staff/school district and the teacher can be held liable. Our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have access to highly respected investigators who are able to thoroughly dissect all aspects of a sex abuse scandal and get to the truth to identify if the school administration was aware that child abuse was taking place. Through a careful investigation, we can build a strong case against school districts, administrators and individual child abusers.

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The Diocese of St. Petersburg has launched a new website in response to the latest Catholic church’s sexual abuse scandal.

The site boasts the biblical words: “Each of us shall give an account to God.”

The local diocese established the site last month, following the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report about the molestation of more than 1,000 children by at least 300 Catholic priests and the cover-up by church officials.

On the new site, Bishop Gregory Parkes addresses the crisis in a two-minute video that seeks to assure his flock of almost half-million Catholics in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus and Hernando counties that the diocese has established a firewall of safeguards.

Parkes said the new “accountability” site was set up to provide “resources and information on how we are accountable to you, the people of God.”

The website, which links to a list of “credibly accused” priests and lay persons, states how much has been paid out to victims — $6.3 million since the diocese was founded in 1968. The site also has a link encouraging prayers, in keeping with Parkes’ request that parishioners pray for all who “have been wounded by crimes of abuse” and for “the priests and bishops who have justly served with compassion and kindness.”

It also addresses safeguards such as mandatory background screening and fingerprinting for those who work with minors and vulnerable adults.

Earlier this month, Parkes posted a letter to the new site following State Attorney General Pam Bondi’s announcement that she was launching an investigation into how Florida’s Catholic dioceses have handled allegations of sexual abuse of minors. The bishop said his diocese has been transparent and pointed to the list of accused priests on full display on its website. The list names nine priests and five employees.

It is the church’s responsibility to supervise all of its clergy, priest and religious leaders. When they fail to do so, this negligent supervision can result in a child being sexually assaulted. When children are not protected from sexual predators in a church setting, this can result in a legal claim against the religious institution.

If you know of or suspect any type of sexual abuse happening in your church, school, or workplace, please report it to the proper authorities. You can also contact our Florida Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorneys at Whittel & Melton for free guidance on what steps to take next. We are experienced at handling sexual abuse cases against various religious institutions, including the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the Episcopal Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), and Judaism.

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A mother and daughter have filed a lawsuit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court alleging they were sexually abused by masseuses at the national chain’s Boca Raton storefront.

The May 2017 incident is just one of nearly a dozen separate assaults described in the lawsuit and describes how rampant sexual abuse is at the chain that grew into a national sensation by making massages affordable to regular working people.

The two unidentified women were among 11 who joined in the lawsuit that claims the Arizona-based company put profits ahead of customer safety at its franchises in West Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and three locations on Florida’s Gulf coast.

When complaints of inappropriate touching, groping and even rape were brought to the company’s attention, the 163-page lawsuit claims the company concealed it.

Instead of alerting police or a state licensing board, the company’s policies allowed the abuse to continue, reports indicate.

A similar lawsuit against the company was filed this month in California. The suits grew from a November 2017 investigation by BuzzFeed that found 180 women across the country had been molested by Massage Envy therapists.

Each of the cases is unique. In two separate incidents, women said male masseuses fondled their genitals at the chain’s locations on Southern Boulevard in Royal Palm Beach and on Village Boulevard in West Palm Beach. Some of the women were receiving massages to cope with lifelong back pain or other injuries. In many cases, the women didn’t know the names of the massage therapists who assaulted them.

The exception was a woman in Largo who filed a complaint with the Florida Board of Massage Therapy. The board responded by revoking the license of the therapist. It is unclear whether any criminal charges were filed.

Massage Envy policies state that franchisees must conduct their own prompt, fair and thorough investigation of sexual assault. However, the main problem with this policy is that it does not provide much guidance on how to do so and there are very few employees who feel capable of doing their own investigations.

After a sexual assault occurs, filing criminal charges can be first step in bringing this person to justice. A criminal case will not provide financial compensation for what you have had to deal with as a result of the assault, which is where our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. We can explore your legal options for obtaining compensation for the physical, financial and emotional damages you have suffered.

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A 72-year-old priest who was affiliated with Ascension Catholic Church in Boca Raton is accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy and sexually abusing unidentified others in a report issued Tuesday by a Pennsylvania grand jury that conducted a sweeping investigation into clergy misconduct.

The man was among the scores of “predator priests” the grand jury mentioned by name in a 1,356-page report of its roughly two-year investigation, the most comprehensive in U.S. history. The man, according to the document, served at the church on North Federal Highway from 2007 to 2009 and still lives in Boca.

The man said the Vatican cleared him of any wrongdoing in 2014.

The grand jury report noted that police officials in Pennsylvania said their investigation determined the allegations of abuse by the priest were credible. By the time the allegations were presented to prosecutors, the statute of limitations had run out, the jury said.

Diocesan officials ignored several other abuse allegations against Benestad, the grand jury report states.

In its report, the grand jury urged lawmakers to change the law so sexual predators won’t escape prosecution if victims are reluctant to come forward for years. Further, they asked that changes be made so the church can’t hide behind confidentiality agreements. They also want to see laws requiring people to report sex abuse to be beefed up.

Sexual abuse can lead to serious, lifelong emotional and psychological injuries. Our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know the scarring that can come along with abuse, which is why we retain highly skilled and experienced mental health professionals to help evaluate victims’ damages. If you or a loved one was molested by a priest, bishop, deacon, nun or any other employee of a Catholic Church, regardless of when it occurred, please contact us to help you determine what options are best for you.

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