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The Louisiana State University athletic department is accused of ignoring numerous complaints regarding sexual assaults involving a top running back in 2016 and 2017, Derrius Guice.

Two women made complaints to LSU officials regarding the football player raping them and another said the man snapped a nude photo of her and shared it with his teammates, but the school did nothing to investigate the complaints despite the fact that the school’s own policies along with federal laws require them to take all sexual misconduct allegations seriously and report them to the Title IX office for investigation as well as campus police when these alleged incidents occur on school property. 

USA Today looked into the the school’s alleged misconduct and found that the school ignored sexual misconduct repeatedly, not just with their star running back. 

Their investigation found that at least seven LSU officials were aware of wide receiver Drake Davis strangling and physically abusing his girlfriend, but failed to take action against the man and continued to let the abuse occur. 

In another incident, a fraternity member sexually assaulted two women, but the school refused to move him out of classes he shared with one of the victims and ignored a third complaint made against him by a third female victim. 

There were three other cases where male students were found responsible for sexual assaults and LSU let them stay in school rather than suspending or expelling them. The men received a probation period called a “deferred suspension.” 

And in a fourth case, a male student who was found to be stalking and sexually harassing another student was also given a deferred suspension. 

LSU has released statements saying they are focused on putting an end to sexual assaults on campus, but their actions show otherwise. 

The school has been “hush hush” regarding how they have handled numerous sexual misconduct complaints dating back to 2016 and continuing through 2020, many involving football players that include two prized players from the 2020 national championship team. The school has refused to release several campus police reports, which has resulted in them being sued. 

You can read more about USA Today’s investigation findings here

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct on College Campus

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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 covers sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in high schools, colleges, and universities. Under federal laws, high schools, colleges, and universities must have procedures in place when it comes to handling claims of sexual misconduct on campus. Once the school has been made aware of a student who is the alleged victim of sexual misconduct, they are required to take immediate action and launch an investigation into the matter. They cannot ignore any of these claims as they are required by law to put an end to the misconduct and prevent any further incidents of misconduct. 

There is Help for Victims of Campus Sexual Attacks 

If you have bene the victim of a sexual assault on a college campus in Florida, you are not alone. Sexual misconduct on college campuses happens at a disturbing rate. Our Campus Sexual Assault Victims Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are ready and able to help you through this difficult time. We take these cases very seriously and will fight aggressively to make sure your abuser and the school that let this abuse happen are held accountable for their actions.  

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2020 is one of the most active storm seasons ever in the waters around the State of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

STORM DEDUCTIBLE CONFUSION?!

Florida Property insurance policies typically have two deductibles. A standard deductible for most losses; and a hurricane deductible. The standard “Other Perils” deductible is for pretty much anything covered by the policy, such as fire, pipe bursts and appliance related water damage claims, or windstorms, etc. The hurricane deductible only applies to named Hurricanes. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Michael in the panhandle on October 10, 2018; and more recently in the western portions of the Florida panhandle for Hurricane Sally on September 16, 2020, and Hurricane Zeta on October 28, 2020. Hurricane deductibles are typically 2 or 3 percent of the limit of the insurance for the home which is a lot higher than the standard deductible for all other claims. The Eta storm of November 2020 started off in South Florida counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County as a Tropical Storm (not a hurricane). But as storms in Florida do, things changed, and the weather system chased west back into the Gulf of Mexico where it was reclassified as a Hurricane for a short period of time before heading back to the Nature Coast across Florida again as a Tropical Storm.

key-west-81664_1920-1-1-300x199DON’T GET FOOLED BY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY!

First, an insurer may rush to slap a hurricane deductible on your claim when it should not apply because a Tropical Storm is not a hurricane. Second (and this is really the most important!), Insurers in Florida have often told their customers after a storm that unless they absolutely know that their damage is more than their hurricane deductible, then they should not even put in a claim. There are many reasons why this is terrible advice and a bad business practice by insurance companies. As the policyholder, it is not your job to know the exact amount of damage you have in the weeks following a severe storm. You also may discover that the storm caused much more damage than you initially thought or could see in the days following the hurricane. Many Floridians have fallen for the insurers gambit only to attempt to make their claims later on and be told its too late to make the claim.

If you believe you have Hurricane or Tropical Storm damage from any of these strong weather systems that brought havoc to Florida, please call us and we can assist you in determining which deductible applies, assist you with determining the actual extent of the damage to your home, and provide needed guidance through the process with your insurance company.

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A pastor at New Life Evangelistic Center was hit and killed Wednesday morning by a vehicle who fled the scene.  

The man was hit around 7 a.m. as he was crossing the street Crystal Springs Road near Hammond Boulevard. The driver did not stop to check on the man. 

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the driver of the car that hit the man. 

This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made child deaths from hot cars part of 2020’s campaign. This case reminds us all the importance of the NHTSA’s slogan “Park. Look. Lock.” Always ask yourself “where is the baby?” 

An Orlando teacher has been charged with the death of her friend’s 20-month-old son after she left the child inside a hot vehicle for 7.5 hours. 

The 34-year-old woman was charged with neglect and aggravated manslaughter. 

As parents, we all want our kids to be kept safe from any dangers or harm. Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children over the age of 4, and nearly 5,000 kids die in motor vehicle crashes each year. The numbers are far too alarming, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  has outlined guidelines for children to follow when riding in the car. 

Car Seat Guidelines

Children should ride in the backseat of a car until the age of 13. Infants and toddlers should be placed in rear-facing car seats until they reach the  age of 2. If they have outgrown their rear-facing seat before the age of 2, then the AAP says they can be moved into a forward-facing car seat. Once a child is riding in a forward-facing car seat with a harness, they should remain this way for as long a possible – up to the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat. After they have outgrown their forward-facing seat, they can then be placed in a booster seat, which is designed to help seat belts fit their smaller bodies correctly. Seat belts are designed for adults, so until a child is 4 feet, 9 inches, they should remain in the booster seat (roughly 8-12 years old). 

This information serves as an excellent reminder to parents on how to keep their kids safe when travelling to and from their destinations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that every 32 seconds a child under the age of 13 was involved in a motor vehicle crash in 2018. The important takeaway here is that proper car seats, booster seats, and seat belts can protect our children in the event of an unfortunate car accident. 

safety-300x300While most parents believe their car seats and booster seats are installed correctly, the shocking reality is that 46% (that is almost half) are not. Child Passenger Safety Week is currently going on – running from September 20-26.  During this week there will be certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available to the public in every state offering free help and education on properly using infant and toddler car seats, child booster seats, and seat belts. These techs are around to help educate everyone on choosing the right car seat/booster seat for a child, how to install them correctly, and how to properly use the seat every time your child goes for a ride. Another important safety tip they will provide is how to register the car or booster seat with the manufacturer so that you can be notified in the event of a safety recall.  

If you need helpful information on choosing the right car seat for your child’s needs, you can find it here

Child Passenger Safety Week 2020 ends with National Seat Check Saturday on September 26. Due to COVID-19, more techs will be available to assist with virtual checks this year for Child Passenger Safety Week. You can view where to find a virtual seat check here

The NHTSA is also stressing the importance of children dying from heat stroke during this year’s Child Passenger Safety Week. They are urging all parents and caregivers to remember their slogan – Park. Look. Lock. In recent years there have been more child deaths than ever from children being left or becoming trapped inside a hot vehicle. The majority of hot car deaths, 54%, happen when a parent or caregiver forgets they have a child in the backseat of their car. So far in 2020, there have been 20 child deaths reported involving vehicular heatstroke. 2019 was the second deadliest year for pediatric vehicular heatstroke, with 52 children killed because they were left behind in the backseat of a car or gained access to an unlocked car while no one was watching. 

Parents and caregivers are urged to develop good habits with children in their cars and always look around their car before leaving it as well as locking the doors once everyone is safely out. 

Bystanders are also urged to help prevent pediatric vehicular heat strokes. If you see a child alone in a car, you should do your part to save their life and call 911. The important thing to do in these situations is to get help immediately as the child’s life is in imminent danger. 

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South Dakota’s Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg hit and killed a pedestrian Saturday night while driving. The death was discovered after he told the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office that he collided with a deer, according to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

deer-2053106_1280-300x205Ravnsborg told police that he survived the crash involving a deer unscathed. The highway accident occurred at about 10:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, according to the department of public safety. 

The body of the pedestrian he hit, a 55-year-old man, was found on Sunday morning.

It is unknown whether Ravnsborg stopped to check the scene after the collision. 

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem held a press conference Sunday morning stating that there will be an investigation conducted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol. The fatal crash will be investigated in the same manner as all other fatal accidents. 

Ravnsborg is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation, according to reports, 

Ravnsborg is a Republican who was elected in 2018 as South Dakota’s attorney general. 

It will certainly be interesting to see how this case pans out. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motor vehicle accidents involving deer are responsible for about 1.5 million crashes across the United States. These accidents cause about 150 deaths per year and $1.1 billion in property damage. Most deer-vehicle accidents happen between October and December which is the mating season for deer. The majority of these accidents do happen at night as deer are nocturnal animals who are on the hunt for food during night-time hours. 

Losing a loved one is not an easy thing to accept. This is even harder to do when their death was caused by the negligent actions of another person. Our Florida Pedestrian Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how difficult it can be to deal with the death of a family member or loved one. While there is no dollar amount that any state can place on the value of your loved one’s life, we can help you recover financial compensation to help with bills, supplement lost income, and help you start over with your life following a devastating loss. 

Wrongful death claims are usually filed after the untimely death of a loved one by their family members, such as children, spouses, parents, and even siblings. Wrongful death cases must be filed in a certain amount of time and aim to recover a financial award for medical bills and/or funeral costs, loss of benefits, pain and suffering by survivors, and loss of companionship. 

A wrongful death claim can be made when a person’s death is the direct result of another person’s reckless or negligent actions. There are various types of wrongful death cases, including pedestrian-car accidents, and these claims all seek financial compensation in civil court rather than criminal court. While criminal court is designed to punish a person for breaking the law, civil court is designed to help injured victims or surviving family members recover financial compensation for their loss. 

Florida has its own set of rules and regulations on when and how certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. set restrictions on when and how a certain family member can file a wrongful death claim. Florida statutes (section 678.18) state that surviving family members can proceed with a wrongful death claim when their loss resulted from one of the following: 

  • Breach of contract (default) 
  • Negligence 
  • Wrongful act

In Florida, as well as other states, there is also a statute of limitations set in place for wrongful death suits. This is a time constraint placed that outlines how long surviving family members have to file a claim in civil court. In Florida, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the death. However, there are special conditions that may allow for an extension for the claim. 

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transportation-1495618_1920-300x200A semi truck lost control Tuesday and slammed into a car, resulting in the death of two young people. 

The accident occurred along Interstate 95 near Lem Turner Road is the same roadway that has been the crash site for more than 100 car crashes in the last five years, according to data from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). 

The FHP found that 127 collisions have happened in the same area where the semi truck lost control. The majority of the crashes have taken place at a curve in the interstate that is located just past an on-ramp.  

The only accident that has been fatal of the 127 that have happened in the past five years was the one that happened Tuesday, according to FHP. 

The crash report indicates that the semi lost control while travelling south and smashed into a concrete barrier and hit a car in the right hand lane. The 21-year-old driver of the car and her 23-year-old passenger were killed. The 65-year-old driver of the semi truck suffered no injuries. 

According to the FHP, they have handled 109 of the 127 crashes that have resulted in 33 injuries. The other 18 collisions resulted in 6 injuries and were handled by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. 

The fatal accident that happened Tuesday is one of 22 that has occurred near the I-95 and Lem Turner Road interchange. The majority of these accidents were caused by off-road or rear-end wrecks.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is responsible for examining the roadways and identifying if any improvements need to be made. Cost, speed limit reductions, restructuring intersections, and other safety projects are looked at after accidents happen. FDOT will be reviewing the roadway to determine what needs to be done to make it safer for drivers. 

The FHP said that Tuesday’s fatal crash is still being investigated and that charges are pending.

Semi truck collisions can be caused by numerous factors, some of the most common being: 

  • Drivers operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Drivers who are fatigued or drowsy
  • Drivers who are distracted by their phones, navigation devices, the radio, etc. 
  • Speeding drivers
  • Inclement weather
  • Road hazards or dangerous conditions
  • Trucks that are not properly maintained
  • Poor visibility
  • Construction zones

Federal Highway Trucking Regulations Suspended in March Due to Coronavirus 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), who oversees trucking regulations, temporarily suspended the mandate that dictates how many hours that truck drivers are allowed to drive back in March when the novel coronavirus first entered the scene in the U.S. The Trump Administration did this in an effort to get more goods out to people for emergency relief due to the global pandemic. These regulations are implemented to protect drivers sharing the roadways with semi trucks from truck drivers who have been operating their vehicles for prolonged periods of time. The rules are as follows: a truck driver can drive 11 hours in a 14 hour time frame. After this, they are required to take 10 hours off. 

While the details surrounding the cause of this crash are not clear yet, it is true that tired truck drivers are operating on America’s roads. This is a danger for the foreseeable future. 

If you are injured or have lost  a loved one in a semi truck or tractor trailer accident, our Florida Semi Truck Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want to remind you that we have the knowledge and experience needed to handle these types of cases. The trucking industry must follow strict regulations, but companies will do everything they can to find loopholes in these rules to protect at-fault drivers that have caused serious accidents. We know how these companies operate and how to investigate these types of cases so that those harmed can achieve justice. 

We want to help you recover financial compensation from all parties responsible for any acts of recklessness or negligence. We may not be able to undo what has already been done, but we can fight to make sure that full and fair compensation is recovered from those responsible. 

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Sky Drive Inc.,a Japanese company, has completed a successful public test drive of a flying car. 

The company executed the public demo on August 25 at the Toyota Test Field, which is the car company’s base camp and one of the largest in Japan. 

The flying car demo was the first of its kind in Japan. 

The car, named SD-03, was outfitted with a pilot behind the wheel who flew the car around the test field for four minutes as the public watched. 

SkyDrive has been around for two years. The company is thrilled with the success of the test drive and hopes to commercialize the aircraft. The goal is for flying cars to be accessible means of transportation to everyone. This is SkyDrive’s hope: to offer a safe, secure, and comfortable new lifestyle of operating a vehicle in the sky. 

The SD-03 is the smallest VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing vehicle) in the world. It is about the size of two cars and has a total of eight motors for safety precautions should an emergency with the vehicle happen. 

The company said more test drives are on the horizon and that the flying car will soon be a part of normal, everyday life. SkyDrive will keep going with its plans for flying cars and will work towards meeting the ever changing industry standards. 

With the success of the first test drive, the company says it is likely that the flying car will be tested outside of theToyota Test field by the end of 2020.

Reports indicate that the company is on a mission to safely launch the flying car by 2023. No price tag for this flying car has been announced just yet. 

Flying cars are here, which might seem futuristic for some, but the reality is more companies have developed these VTOLs and Miami even has a flying car port located at the Paramount Miami Worldcenter, which is a 60-story luxury condo tower. For now, the rooftop serves as an observation deck for its residents. Once flying cars are here, the rooftop will be equipped with a landing pad and the observation deck will be transformed into a sky lobby for those travelling by air. 

The rideshare company Uber is also getting into the flying car game. News 

reports have indicated that the company is set to be the first ride share company in the sky. They apparently have several manufacturers designing and testing VTOLs. There is no word yet on when the company thinks they will be operating in the sky. 

A Dutch company called PAL-V has flying vehicles available for pre order for $600,000. 

While flying cars are here and making significant headway, it is unlikely that these VTOLs will be available for the public to be transported in anytime soon. The reality is that lawmakers would have to develop regulations for car flights and work out lots of details, like licenses, training, insurance requirements, manufacturer regulations, air traffic plans, etc. 

Flying cars will definitely be a cool thing to see and maybe someday, sooner than later, these VTOLs will be available at a price that everyday consumers can afford. But in the meantime, regular car accidents happen everyday across the United States. Most of these accidents stem from driver negligence, such as distracted driving, driver fatigue, and operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you and your loved ones fight for just compensation for your injuries and losses after a serious car crash. 

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atv-1572927_1280-300x199An ATV crash in Columbia County Tuesday evening left a child and two adults suffering injuries. 

The accident occurred around 7 p.m. Tuesday night at County Road 246 and County Road 131. 

The ATV collision was investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol who said that three Lake City residents were riding on an ATV heading north on County Road 131. The driver of the all-terrain vehicle stopped at a stop sign before continuing through the intersection of County Road 246 when the ATV hit an SUV heading west. The crash caused the ATV to spin out and ultimately flip. 

One of the ATV passengers, a 49-year-old man, suffered critical injuries. An 11-year-old girl was another passenger who was seriously injured. The driver of the ATV, a 29-year-old man, also suffered serious injuries, according to the FHP. 

The FHP report did say that none of the ATV riders were wearing helmets. 

The 52-year-old SUV driver suffered minor injuries, according to the FHP. 

Florida Safety Laws on ATVs

Florida laws regarding ATVs state the following: 

  • ATVs can only be driven on unpaved roads during daylight hours where the posted speed limit is under 35 MPH. 
  • ATV operators that are under 16 years of age must be supervised by an adult and carry proof of their completion of a Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) safety course. 
  • Anyone driving or riding an ATV that is under the age of 16 must wear a safety helmet and eye protection that is approved by USDOT. 

ATV Accident Statistics

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a report showing that between 1982 and 2017, children under the age of 16 accounted for more than 1 in five of the over 15,000 ATV accidents that resulted in death. The CPSC annual report for 2017 (the most recent data available) shows there were 15,250 total ATV accidents deaths reported from 1982-2017, and 3,315 of those deaths, or 21.7%, were minors under the age of 16. Another 1,450 of those deaths, or 9.5%, were under the age of 12. The total deaths in the state of Florida from ATV-related accidents between 1982-2017 were 616. 

ATV Accident Injuries

While ATVs are certainly a fun time for those seeking a little outdoor adventure, the truth is that these vehicles can be dangerous. ATVs do not have seatbelts and can weigh between 500 and 600 pounds, which makes them hazardous to drivers and passengers. The most common injuries from ATVs are: 

Head Injuries/Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) 

ATVs do not have a roof and are larger vehicles, which is why all riders are strongly encouraged to wear a helmet. Not wearing a helmet while riding on an ATV and being involved in a crash could lead to a concussion, regardless of how fast you were going. 

Spinal Cord Trauma 

Spinal cord injuries from ATV accidents account for around 7.9% of the total injuries reported. If the ATV you are operating or riding as a passenger on flips over and lands on top of you, the weight of 500-600 pounds can place a significant amount of pressure on your body. 

Internal Injuries 

Rollovers in ATV accidents are a huge risk, and when that much weight is placed on a person’s body, injuries to internal organs can happen. Being careful on an ATV and not taking unnecessary risks can stop rollovers from happening. It is very important to not speed on these vehicles, exercise caution when travelling downhill, ride on even ground, do not take corners too fast, and do not lean back when riding uphill. 

Knee and Leg Injuries 

Not all ATV accidents result in death or catastrophic injuries. Broken bones, scrapes, and burns are all common injuries in ATV accidents. 

Fractures 

ATVs are large and heavy vehicles, as we have mentioned, so it is not uncommon for riders to fall during the course of an accident and suffer from a broken bone or fracture. 

Contact Our Florida ATV Accident Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton 

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priest-3621038_1280-300x169Hearing about sex abuse cases against the Catholic Church is nothing new. But, a new Supreme Court ruling could affect whether individuals who were victims of sex crimes by members of the Roman Catholic Church can still proceed with their cases due to expired statutes of limitations. 

In Pennsylvania, a ruling from Blair County is currently on appeal to the state Supreme Court. The case: Rice v. Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. The Blair County of Common Pleas found that the statute of limitations on this case had run out since the last instance of abuse occurred when the victim was 14 – in 1981. The court ruled that the statute of limitations expired in 1987 and dismissed the lawsuit. 

However, in June 2019, a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed the ruling based on the fact that Rice does not claim her suffering stopped in the 70’s and 80’s with the molestation, but she developed new injuries from the civil conspiracy 2016 Grand Jury Report, which if proven could mean that she was well within her two-year statute of limitations. 

A decision is expected in this case by 2021, and could mean a rise in similar cases against the Church. 

An annual audit of Catholic Church sex abuse conducted every year since 2002 shows that 4,434 allegations of sex abuse involving minors was reported for 2019. In 2018, there were 1,451 cases of sexual misconduct reported. In 2017, 693 cases. In 2016, 1,318 cases and in 2015, 903 cases. 

Sexual abuse cases involving the Catholic Church are rampant across the United States. Sadly, the Church made the decision to try and cover up these cases rather than do the right thing and hold abusers accountable for their inappropriate sexual conduct. The cycle of abuse has continued for so long that it is impossible to know exactly how many survivors of this abuse there really are. 

Sexual abuse can involve any type of unwanted or unwelcome sexual activity, such as molestation, rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, unwelcome touching with our without clothing, etc. 

The aftermath of sexual abuse can be absolutely devastating. The injuries suffered do not stop when the abuse does, as this case demonstrates. Being the victim of sexual abuse can last a lifetime. Sleep disorders and depression are all common after surviving sexual abuse as well as substance abuse, self-harm, and even suicide. Minors that are victims of sex abuse may experience all kind of behavioral changes, such as eating disorders, partaking in risky behavior, using drugs and alcohol, and even become overly sexualized. 

If you or someone you care about has been the victim of sexual abuse, our Florida Church Sex Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to help you file a lawsuit against the person responsible for your abuse as well as the institution who failed to prevent the abuse. You may have the right to seek financial compensation for various damages, such as medical bills, bills related to therapy, and loss of income. You may also be eligible to recover punitive damages from your abuser. This is a financial award meant to punish those who have committed sexual abuse as well as the insitututions that allowed the abuse to take place or even tried to hide the fact that it was happening. 

We understand how hard it can be to speak up about what happened to you, but we encourage all abuse survivors to do so as it can hold the person as well as the organization responsible for their actions as well as protect the rights of others who have suffered abuse. When you stand up to an organization, like the Catholic Church, you are fighting for justice for your abuse, but also protecting others from suffering from the same type of abuse. 

We want to help you speak your truth and find some peace. We know that nothing can ever change what was done to you, but we want your voice to be heard so that you can continue to move forward with your life. We want to see you compensated appropriately for your suffering and try and prevent any episodes of further sexual abuse. We want you to know that we are here for you and will fight for your rights. 

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