Are you or a loved one a survivor of childhood sexual abuse? Our dedicated Indiana legal team can help you pursue justice.
- You have powerful legal rights
- Stand up and raise your voice for change
- You owe us nothing until we recover compensation
You may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit, pursuing justice and financial compensation. Learn more in a free, confidential consultation today.
We stop at nothing to see that sexual abuse survivors receive compassionate support.
"Compassionate." The team at Cohen & Malad really came through.
Was your child sexually abused by a dangerous predator in Indiana? Were you sexually abused as a child, and still struggling to come to terms with the abuse you suffered? Our dedicated attorneys understand the powerful and painful emotions you must be experiencing now. Shock, rage, depression, fear, embarrassment, shame - however you feel, these are natural reactions to a terrible trauma. Our lawyers are here to support you.
Legal Support For Child Sexual Abuse Survivors
AbuseGuardian.com is sponsored by a national network of personal injury attorneys who focus their legal practice on child sexual abuse and sexual assault. To handle cases in Indiana, we have partnered with the experienced lawyers at Cohen & Malad, LLP, one of Indianapolis' preeminent law firms.
Since 1968, the attorneys at Cohen & Malad have been fighting against establishments and institutions who conceal child sexual abuse allegations, silence victims and empower dangerous child molester to commit their crimes.
Your Right To File A Civil Lawsuit
You and your family may have powerful legal options, including the right to file a civil lawsuit, demanding justice and financial compensation from the responsible parties.
This was not your fault. You did nothing wrong, and you can fight back. You may feel powerless, but as a sexual abuse survivor in Indiana, or the loved one of a sexual abuse survivor, you have the power to turn the tables on the offender and those who enabled the sexual abuse. You can hold them all accountable by filing a private lawsuit.
The Role Of Third-Party Defendants In Sexual Abuse Cases
The sexual molestation of children is a horrific crime, one that no one in our society would dare to condone. But every day, businesses and institutions in our country enable the continued sexual abuse of children through their negligence. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is not equipped to hold these organizations and establishments accountable.
The criminal justice system was designed to punish and incarcerate the direct perpetrators of sexual abuse - the priests who molest parishioners, the doctors who prey on their young patients and the sports coaches who abuse young athletes. But what about the Church, and the medical office and the school itself, all of which failed to prevent the sexual abuse from occurring in the first place? Who holds these additional third parties accountable?
How The Civil Justice System Can Help
You do. This is the power of the civil justice system. When a child is abused, the direct perpetrator can be taken into custody, prosecuted and punished for his crimes, but the third parties, the businesses and institutions who enabled the crime, will not be prosecuted for their involvement. Their only punishment comes when a brave family stands up for justice and pursues a private civil lawsuit, demanding justice, accountability and compensation.
You have a voice, a powerful voice. Predators seek positions of power, ones that allow them ready access to young children. Child molesters seek employment in fields that allow them to gain authority over children - the priesthood, the doctor's office, the Boy Scouts, teaching positions at elementary, middle and high schools.
It's not a coincidence that so many child sexual abuse cases come from these fields; dangerous sexual predators actively seek out roles that allow them to gain unfettered access to young children. But who puts these predators in power? And who keeps them in power, even after sexual abuse allegations have been leveled against them?
Filing Suit Against Responsible Third-Parties
All too often, these institutions, organizations and businesses shield sexual predators from justice. Hoping to protect their own reputations, they look the other way, rather than facing up to the reality of sexual abuse. In some cases, as with the Catholic Church, these institutions actively seek to silence and undermine sexual abuse survivors, digging through their personal lives and attacking their reputations. No one should be allowed to act this way.
The Role Of Negligence In Child Sexual Abuse
It can be small - a nurse who accidentally walks in on a pediatrician touching his young patient, but doesn't tell anyone else. It can be large - an institution like the Catholic Church concealing for decades the rampant sexual abuse occurring under its watch, or a single doctor from Michigan molesting hundreds of young gymnasts under the guise of medical care.
Negligence and child sexual abuse go hand in hand.
Examples Of Negligence
In all of these cases, there were moments when someone, somewhere could have done more to prevent the abuse. There are moments when a manager, or a nurse, or a university president learned more than they would like to know, but failed to act on that knowledge. There were moments when the leader of a Catholic Diocese chose to transfer an offending priest to another parish, rather than alerting the authorities to a sexual abuse allegation, and moments when the headmaster of a private boarding school learned of a dangerous hazing ritual, but did nothing to stop students from practicing it.
These are examples of negligence, a careless disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others. And in these cases, children are the ones losing out. While it is true that none of these institutions, establishments and organizations would publicly affirm the molestation of children, they all make choices that enable sexual abuse, acting or failing to act in a way that violates their sworn ethical and legal obligation to protect children.
Who Can Be Held Accountable?
You can hold them accountable. Indiana's strong tradition of civil law empowers child sexual abuse survivors and their families to pursue justice in the wake of a horrific trauma. We believe you, and we believe your story should be told.
Negligence stands at the root of most personal injury lawsuits. Childhood sexual abuse claims are no different, especially when they include allegations against a third-party defendant, like the Catholic Church, or a day care center or school. Anyone who facilitated the abuse of a child, either through actions to conceal abuse or failures to act, can be held accountable for their negligence in a court of law.
Filing Suit Against Direct Perpetrators
Needless to say, civil lawsuits can also be filed against the direct perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Individual priests, pediatricians, school teachers, summer camp counselors and molesters can be held accountable in a civil court of law.
These claims involve different legal theories, not negligence but the intentional civil torts (wrongs) of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The principles behind these so-called intentional torts are well-known. It is an actionable civil offense to make another person fear imminent harm, to touch them in an offensive or harmful manner without consent and to take actions that inflict severe emotional distress.
It should be obvious that childhood sexual abuse in any form fulfills the conditions for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. These are the legal theories on which a claim for compensation against a direct perpetrator would be based.
But the civil court system allows you to tell a much larger story, one about the institutions, businesses and establishments who facilitate sexual abuse through negligence. These third-party defendants can also be held accountable in a civil lawsuit.
The Difference Between Civil & Criminal Lawsuits
Civil lawsuits are distinct from the legal proceedings held in the criminal justice system. In prosecuting an offender, criminal prosecutors seek justice for society as a whole, with little thought of providing direct support to the crime's victim.
There is some reason for hope, however. Criminal divisions have now begun to provide far more services for crime victims in general, and more and more judges are seeing financial restitution (a monetary sum paid by the offender to the victim as a part of criminal sentencing) as a viable option in their sentencing decisions. But there is still a fundamental problem - crime victims are not at the center of criminal prosecution, society as a whole is.
As we've already said, the civil justice system provides another option. Nor are the two avenues to justice mutually-exclusive. Criminal and civil proceedings can be initiated over the same incident of childhood sexual abuse. In fact, in many cases, evidence unearthed in a criminal investigation can again be used during civil proceedings.
But more importantly, civil litigation puts survivors and their best interests at the heart of litigation. No longer is the defendant being held accountable to society; he or she is being held accountable to the individual harmed, to you and your loved ones.
Your Lawsuit, Your Decisions
The matter of control is also important. In a criminal proceeding, sexual abuse survivors have almost no control over the prosecution's direction. While victim impact statements have given survivors a voice inside the criminal court, the preferences and goals of the victim are hardly ever taken into account. It's the prosecutor's case, not your own.
The civil justice system flips this equation on its head. Your civil lawsuit is yours and yours alone. You make the essential decisions that affect your case. You decide to go to trial or settle. And your attorney's only goal is to protect your best interests.
Learn More In A Free Consultation
Were you or a loved sexually abused as a child? Are you a survivor searching to find your voice? Our experienced sexual abuse attorneys can help. You deserve justice. We demand it. Learn more about your legal options in a free, confidential consultation today. Your consultation comes at no charge and no obligation.
Concerned about the expense of filing a lawsuit? Don't worry; our attorneys only offer their services on a contingency-fee basis, which means that you pay nothing until we secure compensation in your case. There's no risk in reaching out for help.
Cohen & Malad, LLP can be reached at:
1 Indiana Square
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204