Alabama Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault in Alabama can file civil lawsuits against their abuser and other third parties, such as schools, churches, etc. Our sex abuse lawyers help victims get financial compensation by filing civil lawsuits against parties who negligently allowed the abuse to occur or failed to prevent it.

In this post, we will look at the process of filing a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse in Alabama. We will look at the relevant laws regarding sex abuse and the average settlement value of these cases.

What is Sex Abuse in Alabama?

For purposes of a civil lawsuit, sexual abuse and sexual assault have the same definition in Alabama as they do in the criminal law context. Under Alabama law, sexual abuse is defined as intentional sexual contact or touching (either directly or through clothing) of the intimate parts of another person for the express purpose of gratifying the abuser or degrading the victim. This definition covers everything from forcible rape to groping.

The hallmark that defines all types and categories of sexual abuse or assault is the lack of consent. In the absence of consent, any form of sexual contact is actionable as sexual abuse or assault. Minors (under the age of 18) lack the legal capacity to give consent to sexual contact. Therefore, any intentional sexual contact by an adult with a minor is necessarily considered sexual abuse.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Sex Abuse in Alabama

Alabama law permits victims of sex abuse to bring civil lawsuits and seek monetary compensation. The right to bring a civil lawsuit is not contingent on whether the victim pressed criminal charges. Abuse victims can file a civil suit regardless of whether they reported the abuse to the police when it happened. It also doesn’t matter whether the abuser was convicted.

Victims can bring civil lawsuits for sexual abuse as long as they are presently willing to testify under oath about the facts of the alleged sexual abuse or assault. Other forms of evidence, such as medical records or fact testimony from other witnesses, can also support the victim’s testimony.

If you file a sexual abuse lawsuit in Alabama, the case will be public record. However, you may be able to keep your name and identity confidential. Alabama’s court rules allow victims to keep their names confidential and use “Jane Doe” or initials in court filings.

Third-Party Liability in Alabama Sex Abuse Lawsuits

In a civil lawsuit about sexual abuse, the main person you might sue is the one who did the abusing. But if that person can’t pay or is in jail, it might not help much.

The way to get money in a sex abuse lawsuit is to go after other organizations that could have stopped the abuse but didn’t. These could be places like schools, churches, or big companies. They usually have money to pay if they’re found responsible.

Here is an example of how this can work. Let’s say Sally was sexually abused by her high school teacher, Jim. Although Sally did not disclose the abuse, the school had received other reports and complaints about Jim’s inappropriate conduct with students, which it failed to investigate. In this case, Sally could bring a sexual abuse lawsuit against the school, alleging negligence in its failure to investigate Jim and protect Sally and other students from potential harm.

Alabama Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Unfortunately, Alabama has some of the most restrictive statute of limitation laws in the country when it comes to sex abuse lawsuits. When the abuse occurs when the victim is an adult (over 18) Alabama’s general 2-year SOL applies. If the plaintiff was a minor when they were sexually abused, Alabama law only gives them until their 25th birthday to file a civil lawsuit. Ala. Code § 6-2-38. To make things even worse, Alabama does not allow the discovery rule to be used to extend the SOL in sex abuse cases. We gave Alabama a grade of F on our state child sex abuse SOL law report card.

Alabama Sex Abuse Verdicts and Settlements

Below are summaries of verdicts and settlements from recent Alabama sex abuse lawsuits.

$1,500,000 Settlement: After sexually molesting a fourth grade student in his class on more than one occasion, and being charged but not prosecuted for the incident, the school board reinstated the teacher where he continued to sexually abuse students. He was later convicted of sexually abusing over 20 girls and sentenced to 17 years in prison. A group of 5 of the victims sued to the school board for negligently retaining the teacher and the case settled.

$25,000,000 Verdict: Plaintiff Jane Doe, an 11-year-old minor, was invited to spend the night at her friend M.G’s house in Lee County, AL. M.G. lived with her parents, defendants Kevin and Jennifer Golden. Late in the evening, Jane Doe, M.G., and another invitee got into bed to watch a movie before going to sleep. M.G. and the other invitee fell asleep during the movie, while Jane Doe remained awake.  Kevin Golden, who was alone at the house with the girls, allegedly went into the bedroom, molested Jane Doe, and took photographs/videos. When he left, Jane Doe called her parents, plaintiffs David and Stacy Bence. Plaintiffs claimed that Jennifer Golden knew or should have known that Kevin Golden was a sexual predator. Plaintiffs further alleged that Jennifer Golden went out that evening, became intoxicated, was arrested for driving under the influence, and spent the night at the Lee County jail.

$500,000 Settlement: Defendant First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort allegedly organized a “Family Fun Day,” which included a picnic, on the church grounds located at 8253 Spanish Fort Boulevard in Spanish Fort, AL. Plaintiff minor child, who was nine years old at the time, attended the “Family Fun Day” picnic with her older brother.  Defendant Walter Bowen, the church’s music minister, allegedly led the minor child into a room within the church sanctuary and sexually molested her.

$8,000,000 Verdict: Plaintiff alleged that around 1976, when Plaintiff was five years old, Defendant, Plaintiff’s father, began a thirty-year pattern and practice of illicit sexual, physical, mental, and verbal abuse. The incidents occurred several times weekly throughout Plaintiff’s adolescence.  The abuse included fondling of Parker’s vagina, which began when she was five years old, forcing her to perform oral sex on him, forcing her to engage in anal and vaginal intercourse with him, forcing her to engage in sexual acts with both underage children and adults, conspiring to cause others to rape and sexually molest her, and numerous acts of other physical violence such as beating, cutting, and extinguishing cigarettes on her hand.

$700,000 Settlement: The Archdiocese of Mobile admitted that 13 members of its clergy had sexually abused children and paid out roughly $700,000 in settlements and other costs to a group of 18 victims.

Contact Us About an Alabama Sex Abuse Lawsuit

If you have sexual abuse lawsuits in Alabama, call our lawyers today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation, or contact us online.

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