Across California and the nation, Girl Scout chapters, and other youth organizations, maintain clear and firm policies that prohibit any form of child abuse and neglect. The organization also maintains strict reporting policies in the event of a suspected abuse. Any employee or volunteer who believes a child has been the victim of sexual assault or abuse must immediately report the incident to local authorities. Not only is there a criminal element to these cases but there is also a civil element. According to California personal injury law abuse, assault and molestation victims may be entitled to benefits and financial compensation for their injuries, pain, suffering and medical issues (both physical and psychological)
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault by a Girl Scout leader, you have more rights than you may realize in taking legal action. The child assault lawyers at The Cifarelli Law Firm want you to understand your rights and the legal courses of action you can take to seek justice for this heinous crime. Our attorneys serve abuse and injury victims all over California including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego.
History of Sexual Assault in the Girl Scouts
Child abuse, or sexual assault, is a very serious crime with strict criminal consequences for the perpetrator. In 2012, a Bellingham, Washington Girl Scout volunteer was sentenced to three years in prison for the sexual abuse of a teenager and asking another minor girl to text nude photos of herself. The defendant, Andre Acosta-Ruiz, was sentenced to 3 years in state prison for the crime. Meanwhile, the Girl Scouts issued a statement assuring the public they are doing everything they can to protect their members from these incidents.
However, a similar story from Kissimmee, Florida suggests there is a pattern of this behavior in the nationwide organization. Eight girls reported that they were molested by their Girl Scouts leader David Wayne Fisher. The girls were between the ages 10-11 at the time and were assaulted during a camping trip to Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness resort. Fisher is now serving a 15-year sentence in state prison. Fisher had previously served as a substitute teacher with a local school district but was asked not to return due to inappropriate behavior with the students.
Legal Rights of the Victim
From the cases above, you can see that the defendants themselves were not the only ones guilty or responsible for the crime. Both the Girl Scouts organization and the public school district can and should be held responsible for failing to protect the children in their care from sexual predators. In cases like this, there are more legal options available to the victim and/or victims’ family than you may be aware.
These liable parties can and should be held responsible for their negligence. In all crimes involving the sexual assault of a minor, both criminal and civil suits can be filed. In fact, you do not have to wait for the verdict from the criminal trial to file a civil suit. In addition to seeking criminal justice, you can file an action against any person or organization that was mandated to report the abuse but failed to do so. Filing a civil action allows you to receive compensation for emotional distress and physical pain, as well as medical expenses and psychiatric care. The attacker is considered liable for the abuse even if the minor consented to the sexual act.
Child abuse causes undue emotional, physical and mental damage to both the victim and victim’s family. Do not let the parties involved in this horrible crime walk away without facing the consequences of their actions, or lack thereof. Instead, consult an experienced personal injury attorney to review the details of your case. We can use our years of experience in these cases to help you achieve the justice you deserve on behalf of your child.