Sexual Abuse in Florida Youth and Religious Organizations

The lives of many children extend beyond just home and school, as parents often choose to enroll them in church programs or youth organizations that can introduce spirituality and variety into their life. Many of these organizations ask parents to place trust in their employees and volunteers—making it all the more traumatizing if this trust is ever violated and a child becomes a victim of sexual violence.

While perpetrators of sexual abuse against children can be held responsible by the courts, the youth organizations or churches themselves could also share blame. An experienced attorney could help you work to hold negligent parties liable if you or your child were the victim of sexual abuse in a West Palm Beach youth or religious organization.

Obligations of Churches and Youth Organizations

An organization that takes children into their care carries a legal responsibility to keep them safe, as well as a duty to prevent foreseeable harms. Both these requirements can be interpreted as a responsibility to prevent instances of sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, predatory people sometimes use these organizations to gain access to vulnerable children, which can lead to situations where a child is left in the custody of an abuser for extended periods of time. As part of their legal duty to prevent any harm from coming to children, these organizations must properly screen employees and volunteers and provide a safe environment with oversight and processes in place to prevent these attacks before they happen.

A failure to uphold these standards of care may create civil liability for West Palm Beach youth and religious organizations in cases of sexual abuse. A compassionate attorney could help an individual determine whether their experiences could serve as ground for civil action.

A plaintiff who files a civil lawsuit must do so with a legal cause of action defined by state law. While “sexual abuse” is not explicitly listed as a cause of action, a skilled lawyer could evaluate the available causes of action that may lead to a successful case.

Examples of causes of actions that could encompass instances of sexual abuse in West Palm Beach youth and religious organizations include:

  • Assault
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress
  • Premises liability
  • Negligent hiring

While many of the listed causes of action require a plaintiff to act within four years of the date of the injury, Florida Statutes §95.11 states that there is no statute of limitations when sexual battery occurs to a child under the age of 16. As a result, many adults can pursue cases against negligent organizations many years after abuse was inflicted.

Ask an Attorney about Filing Suit in West Palm Beach for Sexual Abuse in Youth and Religious Organizations

Many parents place trust in youth and religious organizations to provide guidance and spirituality to their children. Unfortunately, some trusted staff members take advantage of their positions of power and subject vulnerable children to sexual abuse.

The parents of children who experience this abuse—as well as adult victims of childhood sexual abuse—have the right to pursue these organizations for damages. In fact, many victims file claims years or even decades after the abuse occurs. Contact a qualified attorney today to learn more about pursuing claims for sexual abuse in West Palm Beach youth and religious organizations.