Damages Arising From Negligence in Sexual Assault and Battery Cases
Nothing is more traumatic than sexual abuse, as reminds a case involving a Florida Diocese, Eucharistic minister, and a 13-year-old special needs boy. In a suit against the Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida for $5 million in damages, both the Diocese and its bishop have been accused of negligence in failing to prevent the sexual abuse of the young boy. Shockingly, at the time of the alleged abuse, the boy was a pupil in a no-longer-open Catholic school for children who have special needs and/or are developmentally delayed. At the core of the allegation of negligence is the fact that there had been prior complaints of sexual abuse against the same question. Because of these prior complaints, the suit alleges, the Diocese and its bishop were on notice, and should thus have removed the minister or, at the very least, put robust precautionary measures in place to ensure the safety of potential victims. In response to these allegations, the Diocese has denied knowledge of prior complaints of sexual abuse against the minister. Public record, however, would seem to support the allegations, as an arrest record from the county Sheriff’s Office states that the minister admitted to viewing child pornography on his computer in the past, had confessed that the temptation to commit sexual abuse could “rear its head at any time,” and that he had acted on his desires for prepubescent boys before. As this harrowing case shows, it is critical that victims of sexual assault and battery understand negligence in the context of sexual abuse.
Negligence Is A Basis From Which To Recover Damages In Civil Lawsuit
Wrongful conduct takes many forms. Sometimes it is intentional, while other times it is negligent, careless, or recklessness. The allegations, if true, in the Diocese case reflect both intentionally wrongful and negligently wrongful conduct. As the County Office arrest report indicates, the minister in question knew that acting on his desires would constitute sexual abuses. With knowledge, there is intent. Or, inversely, it can be said that, with knowledge, one cannot raise a defense of “it was an accident.” Put still more plainly, if you know something is illegal, and you do it anyway, you can’t claim that it was a mistake or not your intention. Moving from intentional conduct to negligent conduct, we look to the allegations against the Diocese and its bishop. While these parties are not alleged to have committed the sexual abuse, they are alleged to having failed to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This alleged failure implies a duty – a responsibility to protect its parishioners, parochial students, and, for that matter, anyone on its premises from all harms, including those posed by sex offenders. This duty is not up for debate. Rather, the question is whether the Diocese and its bishop breached the duty, and whether a breach of the duty resulted in damages to the plaintiff.
What To Do If You Have Been The Victim Of Sexual Assault or Battery In Florida
If you or a family member has been the victim of sexual assault or battery in Palm Beach, Broward, or Dade County, contact Pike & Lustig, LLP to speak with an experienced and aggressive Florida sexual abuse lawyer about holding the abuser responsible for the damages caused.