One in six children will fall victim to some form of sexual abuse during childhood. Children make easy targets for sex offenders. These aggressors know that most abuse goes unreported and unpunished. They know that abused kids may never find justice against their attackers.
But when an abused child grows to adulthood, the child gains power against the abuser and the strength to assert his or her rights. The law understands that victims of sex abuse tend not to report it, because of threats by the abuser, shame or other psychological reasons. At the same time, the court must protect citizens from unfair accusations. This results in an extremely complicated court system, which makes it very important to obtain an experienced and skilled attorney.
Why Lamothe Law Firm?
The New Orleans sexual abuse lawyer, Frank E. Lamothe, III, has substantial experience in sex abuse cases and is passionate about finding justice for the victims. He was instrumental in settling a group of sex abuse cases for over $5 million, involving a Catholic home for disadvantaged boys. Mr. Lamothe has lectured on sex abuse and authored a paper entitled “Sex Abuse in Louisiana.”
What you need to know
Adult Victims of Sex Abuse
Because of the need to address sexual abuse in minors while protecting the public from unfair accusations, Louisiana requires adults who were abused as minors to comply with LA. R.S. 9:2800.9 entitled “Action Against a Person for Abuse of a Minor.” This statute in part states that a Plaintiff who is 21 years or older at the time the action is filed must show a reasonable basis that sexual abuse occurred during his or her childhood.
Certificates of Merit must be executed by the Plaintiff’s attorney and by a licensed Mental Health Practitioner selected by the Plaintiff, declaring that there is good cause to conclude a reasonable and meritorious case for the filing of the Petition. The Mental Health Practitioner must offer an opinion stating there is a reasonable basis that the Plaintiff has been subject to criminal sexual abuse during his or her childhood. If a Petition is filed naming a defendant that does not include these certificates, the filing attorney is subject to disciplinary action.
Punitive Damages for Criminal Sexual Activity
LA. C.C. Art. 2315.7 allows punitive damages to be awarded for criminal sexual activity occurring during childhood where there is “wanton and reckless regard” for the safety of the person involved. This is in addition to general and special damages recoverable in tort cases.
Institutions- Schools or Churches
Victims may also have claims directly against any institution where the perpetrator was employed or any organization with an agency relationship to the perpetrator. The Plaintiff has the burden to show:
- The institution knew or should have known that the Plaintiff could be sexually abused if the employees volunteering and serving the institution were not properly supervised.
- The institution failed to take proper and reasonable steps to protect a victim from foreseeable harm. The organization must have adequate safeguards in place to prevent sex abuse when it is foreseeable.
Employers might also be vicariously liable for the acts of their employees, providing an additional avenue for sex abuse victims to find justice. La. C.C. Art. 2320 allows employers to be sued for the actions of their employees. To recover damages under this regulation, one must show that the employee was acting on behalf of the organization and engaged in activities intended to fulfill the mission of the organization.
Time Limitations on Filing Suit
Prescription (similar to Statute of Limitations) is controlled by LA. R.S. 9:2800.9. This remedial legislation was enacted in 1993 to extend the time allowed for suit. The law allows for a ten-year liberative prescription, beginning the day the abused minor obtains majority or one year after a minor informs a parent of the abuse. These rules may change with the use of contra non valentem, a legal argument meaning, “prescription does not run against one who is unable to act.” It may be used in cases of recovered memory or other situations where the Plaintiff was unable to assert his or her rights within the prescriptive period.
Call Us for a Free Evaluation of Your Case
If you or a loved one was sexually abused, please call Frank Lamothe at 504-704-1414
for a confidential meeting to discuss your claim.