Thousands of students across California may be the victims of sexual predators each year. Sadly, those sexual abusers are trusted educators and school employees. The people we trust to care for and educate our children are the ones who are committing these heinous crimes against our children.
Examples of sexual abuse by teachers and school employees include:
- A Palmdale teacher is accused of an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year old student.
- A 49-year-old high school teacher from Riverside Unified School District is alleged to have had inappropriate contact with at least 11 students.
- A La Habra High School psychologist charged with statutory rape allegedly had sex with a student in a classroom.
- A teacher at Challenger School of Sport and Fitness was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl. There could be other victims.
- A Simi Valley coach is accused of engaging in sexual acts with a 14-year old student.
- An Orange County high school drama teacher was arrested for allegedly committing felony child molestation with a 13-year old boy.
There is not enough room in this article to list all of the alleged sex crimes by teachers and school employees. Tragically, the list is much too long.
Our Students Are At Risk From Suspected Sexual Abusers in Our Schools
It does not appear that we are doing enough to protect our students from sexual abuse and sexual wrongdoing.
Many incidents of child sexual assault and child sex crimes in schools go unreported. Each year, thousands of misconduct reports are filed with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Many of those reports involve alleged sexual misconduct by teachers. Unfortunately, it can take a long time to complete an investigation, and the decisions of the Commission may be appealed, which could take even longer.
Even though the mandatory reporting of sexual abuse and sex crimes is required, it is not required for schools who are investigating a teacher or who place a teacher on leave for suspected sexual abuse to disclose that information to other schools in California. Also, the law does not require schools that terminate a teacher’s employment for suspected sexual abuse to report that information to other schools.
Therefore, a teacher accused of sexual abuse of a student could leave one school to teach at another school. The teacher could have his or her teaching credentials revoked and leave the state to teach at a school in another state.
What Should Parents Do If They Suspect A Teacher Sexually Abused Their Child?
Call The Police Immediately
Parents and guardians are not required to report these incidents to the school system or the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Sexual misconduct with a student is a crime. Parents and guardians can go directly to local law enforcement offices to file reports of sex crimes against children by teachers, principals, coaches, and other school employees and officials. Reports can be filed over the telephone, in writing, or in person. It is usually a good idea to file a report in person because you can obtain a copy of the report and incident number.
A law enforcement agency is required to investigate all complaints and reports of sex crimes by teachers and school employees. However, dealing with the criminal justice system can be frustrating and slow.
Call a California Child Sexual Abuse Attorney
Parents often have the urge to confront the abuser and the school system directly. Instead, contact a California child sexual abuse attorney. An attorney can provide guidance, support, and legal advice.
A California sex abuse lawyer who handles sexual abuse cases involving school districts, teachers, and other school employees understands the process and can monitor the process to detect any unnecessary delays.
If a coverup by the school district is suspected, an attorney can investigate the matter independently to begin gathering evidence of the school district’s negligence and wrongdoing. Sadly, many school districts prefer to sweep the allegations of sexual crimes by teachers under the wrong to avoid negative publicity.
They also want to avoid civil liability for negligence.
An attorney can help you evaluate your child’s legal rights and your options for holding the parties responsible for allowing your child to be sexually abused liable for their actions.
Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children
Signs of sexual abuse can be very difficult to spot, especially in children who have been “groomed” by an adult. Sexual predators often spend months grooming a child so that the child does not view the sexual abuse as harmful or wrong. A teacher or school employee is already a trusted individual. Students are told to respect and trust their teachers. Therefore, it can be easy for some teachers to groom a child so that the child willingly hides the sexual abuse by a teacher or school official.
However, there are some emotional and physical signs of child sexual abuse that all parents should know. Physical and emotional changes in a child that could indicate sexual assault or sexual abuse include, but are not limited to:
Emotional Signs of Child Sexual Abuse
- Withdrawal, anxiety, and depression
- Nightmares, night terrors, and sleep disturbances
- Changes in mood, including aggression and anger toward family members, friends, and pets
- Lack of interest in school, sports, and other activities
- Lack of self-esteem
- Bedwetting, sucking thumb, and other regressive behaviors
- Abnormal interest in sexual behaviors and language, including inappropriate sexual contact with others
- Increased attempt to be “perfect” or compliant
Physical Signs of Child Sexual Abuse
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in hygiene
- Cutting and other forms of self-mutilation
- Unexplained health problems, including headaches and stomach aches
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Trouble walking or pain in the groin
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Bruising and bleeding around the anus or genitals
Parents who notice any unexplained physical, mental, or emotional changes in their child should investigate further to determine the cause of the changes.
While some children may make up stories, it is more likely that a child may have been sexually abused if he or she tries to talk about the abuse. It is very difficult for a child to talk about sexual abuse. If a child is able to come forward, it is a sign that the child needs immediate assistance in dealing with the trauma and consequences of sexual abuse by a teacher or school employee.
Steps to Take When a Teacher Sexually Abuses a Child
Protect Your Child’s Physical Health
Depending on the type of sexual abuse and when it occurred, you may need to go to the hospital immediately. If the abuse involves sexual intercourse, request a rape kit. The hospital staff may recommend a forensic examination to gather evidence that could be used to prove a teacher sexually assaulted your child.
Protect Your Child’s Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
A physical examination and criminal investigation can be frightening, embarrassing, and traumatic for a child, but it is necessary to gather evidence of the sexual abuse. Request the assistance of a mental health professional during the examination and investigation. A mental health professional trained to deal with child sexual abuse cases provides support and guidance. Also, request a child advocate for your case. Child advocates work with families to ensure they have the resources they need to deal with sexual assault cases.
Contact the Police
Contact law enforcement officials immediately. Let law enforcement officers know that you are going to the hospital because they may want to have officers meet you at the emergency room. In some cases, a law enforcement agency may request that you come to the police station to file a report of sexual abuse by a teacher. Make sure that you follow up with the police if you do not hear back from someone within 24 to 48 hours.
Document the Abuse with Photographs
Doctors or the police may want to document the abuse with photographs if there is bruising or other physical evidence of sexual abuse. Remember to ask your child for permission for you or another party to take photographs. Even though documenting the sexual abuse is necessary, it is important for your child to feel in control of the situation.
A child may feel violated again during the examination and investigation. You may need to encourage your child to consent, but asking permission can give your child some level of comfort and control over what is happening to them and their bodies.
Shut Down Social Media and Don’t Discuss the Case
Posting on social media does not help your case. In many situations, using social media during an active sexual abuse case can damage your child’s case. Furthermore, you and your child do not need to see what other people may post about the case if it becomes public. It is best to stay away from social media and any news stories about your child’s sexual assault.
Do not discuss your child’s case with family or friends. Even people with the best intentions can cause misinformation by retelling the story to others. If you decide to file a civil lawsuit against the school district, teacher, and other parties, you want your child’s statement and your statement to be heard in public for the first time in court.
Contact a California Child Sexual Abuse Attorney
If you have not already done so, contact our California child sexual abuse lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your child’s legal rights. You may not want to pursue a civil lawsuit against the teacher and school district for sexual assault. However, there are two good reasons to discuss your child’s rights with an attorney.
First, treatment for sexual assault can be expensive. Children who are sexually assaulted by teachers can develop long-term mental and physical impairments. Your child may need counseling and therapy for many years. In some cases, a child’s education and ability to work is severely impaired because of the consequences of childhood sexual assault. A civil lawsuit can provide monetary compensation to pay for your child’s care and needs now and in the future.
Second, filing a civil lawsuit for school-related sexual assault helps shine a brighter light on the problem. As mentioned above, school officials would prefer to keep allegations of sexual wrongdoing by teachers out of the media. However, covering up sexual assault in schools allows the abuse of children to continue. Civil lawsuits can also encourage school districts and legislatures to make changes in regulations and California sexual abuse laws that will help prevent future cases of sexual crimes by teachers.
A civil lawsuit against a school district or teacher does not depend on a criminal charge. Even if law enforcement agencies decline to prosecute a teacher for sexual crimes or the teacher is acquitted of wrongdoing, your child may still have a valid civil claim against the teacher, the school district, and other parties under California’s personal injury laws. Damages caused by sexual assault and sexual abuse are compensable as a personal injury under California law.
The Lawyers of The Thompson Law Office Fight for the Victims of Sexual Assault in California
Childhood sexual assault is an appalling crime. Too many children are sexually abused by teachers, school officials, and school employees each year. As adults, we all have the responsibility of protecting children from being sexually assaulted and abused. The legal team of the Thompson Law Office is dedicated to fighting for the rights of children and parents throughout California who have been victimized by sexual predators and negligent school systems.
For a free consultation with a California sexual assault attorney, please contact our office by calling 1-650-513-6111. Your call and consultation are confidential. We strive to provide a safe environment where victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault feel comfortable discussing what happened to them with an experienced legal professional.