Georgia Sex Abuse Lawsuits

This page will look at civil sex abuse lawsuits in Georgia. We will discuss the steps involved in filing a sex abuse lawsuit in Georgia. We will also discuss average settlement amounts and jury payouts in Georgia sex abuse cases and look at recent verdicts and settlements.

Recent Georgia Sex Abuse Lawsuit News

July 10, 2024 – Georgia Woman Alleges Sexual Assault Against Massage Therapist

A woman has sued Massage Envy Franchising, LLC, and Atticus Franchise Group ME, LLC. The lawsuit arises from an incident on March 31, 2022, when she visited a Massage Envy location in Peachtree City, Georgia, and was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist employed by the Defendants.

She alleges that during her massage, the therapist engaged in inappropriate and non-consensual physical contact, including digital penetration.

The specifics are pretty awful. During her medical exam after she reported the sexual assult, it was discovered that the man had digitally penetrated her so forcefully and so deeply that he shoved the tampon she was wearing all the way into her vaginal vault.

The complaint asserts that Massage Envy, the largest massage chain in the United States, has a widespread problem of sexual misconduct by its therapists, which the company has attempted to handle internally, avoiding law enforcement involvement. Her suit claims that this incident is part of a broader pattern of negligence and failure to protect clients from foreseeable risks.

This Massage Envy sexual assault lawsuit – and our lawyers are seeing more and more of these cases – pushes the narrative that the company negligently failed to provide a safe environment and adequately screen, hire, train, and supervise their employees. She asserts that Massage Envy’s policies prioritize corporate profits over customer safety, enabling a culture that tolerates sexual misconduct.

February 24, 2024 – Man Alleges Sexual Assault Against NBA All-Star Dwight Howard

In Georgia, a lawsuit against former NBA All-Star Dwight Howard, accusing him of sexual assault and battery, will proceed after a judge declined to dismiss it, as reported by ESPN.

The lawsuit, initiated by Stephen Harper in July 2023, alleges Howard sexually assaulted him in July 2021.

Howard’s defense claims the encounter was consensual, supported by sexually explicit messages they argue demonstrate Harper’s consent and initiative in the contact. Despite Howard’s motion to dismiss the case as “frivolous” and based on “unrequited love,” Harper’s legal team is pushing for a jury trial, asserting the case concerns assault, not unrequited feelings.

No criminal charges are filed against Howard, but the civil suit seeks judgment for assault, battery, false imprisonment, and emotional

October 24, 2023 – Woman Sues St. Francis Health for Rape

In D. L. v. St. Francis Health, LLC, 369 Ga. App. 314 (893 S.E.2d 444) (2023), the Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed a trial court’s decision that granted summary judgment to St. Francis Health. The plaintiff, D. L., alleged she was raped by three men while sedated and on a ventilator in St. Francis Hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU).

The trial court had initially ruled that the rape was not foreseeable as a matter of law, thereby dismissing the premises liability claim. However, the Court of Appeals found that, considering the totality of circumstances—including the vulnerability of ICU patients and five other complaints of sexual misconduct within the hospital in the years preceding D. L.’s alleged rape—a jury could conclude that St. Francis Health had reason to anticipate that a sexual assault might occur, making the incident foreseeable.

The decision underscores that foreseeability, especially regarding the potential for criminal acts like sexual assault against incapacitated patients, is a matter for the factfinder to determine based on a case-specific analysis of all relevant circumstances.

August 17, 2023 – Father Sues YMCA, Alleging Sexual Abuse Against Daughter

A father filed a sex abuse lawsuit in a Georgia federal court against the Young Men’s Christian Association of Georgia’s Piedmont Inc. (YMCA), claiming that his daughter was sexually abused by a coach affiliated with the organization, an incident that tragically led to her subsequent suicide.

March 15, 2023 – Georgia Prosecutors Council Releases Report on Clergy Abuse in Georgia 

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia released an investigation report regarding allegation of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Georgia (comprised of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah). The report detailed acts of child sexual abuse by clergy dating back several decades.

However, the report concluded that none of the priests suspected of child molestation could be criminally prosecuted because they were either dead or the criminal statute of limitations had already expired. The report was based on independent third-party review of records, files, documents, and reports related to suspected child abuse cases in the possession of the church.

Definition of Sex Abuse in Georgia

Under Georgia law, any non-consensual sexual touching or contact made with the intent of sexual gratification is considered sexual abuse or sexual assault. In the context of a civil lawsuit, sexual abuse is referred to as the tort of sexual battery. It generally has the same definition and meaning as criminal offenses.

For sexual contact to meet the definition of sexual battery, two essential elements must be present: (1) sexual intent, and (2) lack of consent.

The sexual intent element is established by showing that the defendant engaged in sexual contact with the clear and express purposes of sexual gratification or arousal. An innocent or accidental sexual touching does not amount to sexual battery.

The second element is the absence of consent. Children do not have the legal capacity to give consent to any sexual touching. This means that any intentional sexual contact with a minor by an adult lacks consent and qualifies as sexual battery.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Sex Abuse in Georgia

Georgia law enables victims of sex abuse to bring civil lawsuits and seek financial compensation. A victim has a right to file a civil lawsuit at any time, and it is not contingent on whether the victim pressed criminal charges or whether the abuser was convicted. Even if the victim never reported the abuse to the police when it happened, they can still file a civil lawsuit.

Victims can bring civil lawsuits for sexual battery as long as they have the courage to testify under oath about the facts of the alleged sexual abuse or assault. The victim’s testimony can also be bolstered by additional evidence such as medical records or fact testimony from other witnesses.

If you file a sexual abuse lawsuit in Georgia, the civil case will be public record. However, victims who file sex abuse lawsuits can keep their names and identity confidential. Georgia’s court rules allow victims in these sensitive cases to use “Jane Doe” or initials in the court filings for privacy purposes. This means that people cannot go on the internet and easily find out the details of your case.

Holding Third-Parties Liable in Georgia Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Anyone who has been sexually abused or assaulted has the right to file a civil lawsuit and seek compensation. Victims can file civil lawsuits for sexual abuse even if they did not press criminal charges and even if they never told anyone about the abuse.

So who can sex abuse victims sue in a civil lawsuit? Victims of abuse can always file suit against the individual who abused or assaulted them. The problem with doing that, however, is that even if you win the lawsuit you probably won’t be able to get any money out of the abuser. In many cases, the abuser might already be dead or in jail.

The real goal in a sexual abuse civil lawsuit is going after a third party who can be held liable for the abuse. Third parties can be held liable in a civil sex abuse lawsuit if you can show that they were negligent and that this negligence allowed the abuse to happen.

For example, if you were abused by a teacher at your school, the school could potentially be liable for negligently failing to stop the abuse or investigate prior complaints against the teacher.

Common examples of third parties who can be liable in sexual abuse civil lawsuits include schools, churches, and organizations such as the Boy Scouts, etc.

Georgia Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations

Many states have recently changed their laws to give child victims of sexual abuse more time to file civil lawsuits. Unfortunately, Georgia still has some of the stricter statute of limitations laws for sex abuse lawsuits.

When the sexual abuse victim is an adult, they only have 2 years from the date of the abuse to file a civil lawsuit. O.C.G.A § 9-3-33.  If the victim was under the age of 18 when the sexual abuse occurred, the law is slightly different.

Victims of child sexual abuse are still subject to Georgia’s general 2-year statute of limitations, however, that 2-year period does not begin to run until the victim turns 18. So child sex abuse victims have until their 23rd birthday to file a lawsuit.

Also, if the child sexual abuse occurred after 2015 (when Georgia revised its law) then victims can argue that their 2-year SOL period should be extended under the “discovery rule.” The discovery rule can be used to extend the SOL period if the victim can show that they had a delayed discovery of the abuse due to repressed memories. O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.1

In Doe v. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the plaintiff filed a sex abuse lawsuit against Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, alleging childhood sexual abuse by a former teacher at Saint Joseph’s Church in the late 1970s, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to dismiss Doe’s complaint as time-barred.

Doe, who served as an altar boy from ages 12 to 15, claimed that a priest sexually molested him around eight to ten times between 1976 and 1978.

Despite acknowledging the sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in a public statement and listing him as a “credibly accused” clergy member, the defendants successfully argued that Doe’s claims, including those under the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and for maintaining a public nuisance, were barred by the statute of limitations.

The court found that Doe’s non-nuisance and RICO claims were time-barred and that the alleged conduct did not constitute a public nuisance under the law.

The court’s ruling highlights the challenges survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Georgia face when seeking legal redress years after the abuse occurred, especially when statutory limitations constrain their ability to file lawsuits.

Georgia Sex Abuse Settlements & Verdicts

  • $550,000 Settlement: A 12-year-old female student suffered emotional distress after she was sexually molested by a substitute teacher at the defendant’s school. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to properly hire, train and supervise its employees, negligently hired a teacher with a criminal record of sexual assault and negligently attempted to conceal and alter information regarding the substitute teacher’s criminal history.
  • $3,500,000 Settlement: A 16-year-old was sexually assaulted by her 31-year-old supervisor in the workplace. Despite her resistance, he overpowered her. The company initially offered only $5,000 to settle the case, but the claim ultimately settled for $3,500,000.
  • $600,000 Settlement: 3 female students alleged that they were sexually abused a male teacher at their high school. The sued the school district claiming that it was negligent in their hiring and supervision of the teacher who abused them. Each of the 3 girls received $200,000 under the settlement.
  • $83,000 Verdict: A 4-year-old female was sexually molested by a 10-year-old male while at church. Her parents sued the church alleging that it failed to provide reasonable supervision to ensure the safety of the children entrusted to its care, that it failed to prevent the sexual abuse and, that it knew or should have known of the sexual tendencies of the boy who committed the abuse.
  • $345,000,000 Settlement: Twenty men sued claiming they were sexually abused as students at the Darlington School in Rome, requiring five insurance companies that provided coverage to the school to pay the settlement. The school settled and a Floyd County Superior Court jury ruled the insurance companies must pay the settlement for the abuse that took place between 1974 and 1994 invovling former teacher and dorm supervisor Roger Stifflemire.
  • $1,000,000,000 Verdict: The plaintiff, a 14-year-old female, alleged she was raped at an apartment complex by an on-duty security guard hired by the defendant security company. The plaintiff maintained she was visiting friends for a weekend sleepover at the apartment complex when the guard made contact with her and supplied her with alcohol. She said she proceeded to walk over to some benches inside the apartment complex, and while she was unconscious from her alcohol consumption, the guard had sexual intercourse with her.  The plaintiff contended the defendant was negligent in its failure to hire the guard with a proper license, its failure to supervise him after hiring him, and its failure to make sure that he obtained a license after hiring him.
  • $570,000 Settlement: The plaintiff was a 16-year-old boy who alleged that he was sexually abuse by a male counselor at his school.  He sued the school board from the counselor’s old school, claiming that it was negligent in not reporting to state authorities the counselor’s prior dismissal from that school district, which would have revoked his license, and which allowed him to seek employment elsewhere.
  • $500,000 Verdict: An eight-year-old female suffered psychological injury after she was raped and/or sexually molested while riding to a school for deaf children. The bus driver’s 30-year-old son, present on the bus at the time of the incident, was charged with the assault. The plaintiff contended that the defendants were negligent for allowing a man charged with rape to ride the bus and that the man was banned from the school campus due to previous sexual attempts with a number of school girls.

Contact Us About Georgia Sex Abuse Lawsuits

If you were the victim of sexual abuse and want to file a sex abuse lawsuit in Georgia, contact us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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