Kentucky Sex Abuse Lawsuits

This post will explain the basics of Kentucky sexual abuse lawsuits. We examine how Kentucky law defines sexual abuse and assault and when victims of sex abuse can file civil lawsuits and get compensation. We will also analyze the potential settlement value of sex abuse lawsuits in Kentucky.

Finally, we will discuss recent efforts by the Kentucky state legislature to pass new laws making it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits years after the fact.

Kentucky Sex Abuse News & Updates

February 15, 2024: The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that a new state law retroactively extending the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse lawsuits was unconstitutional. The Court reasoned that reviving a time-barred claim has “long conflicted with federal authority” and that the statute of limitations is “a vested right beyond legislative control.”

Definition of Sexual Abuse in Kentucky

In Kentucky, sexual assault or sexual abuse is defined as sexual touching or contact without the other person’s consent and for the purpose of sexual gratification. In the context of a civil lawsuit, sexual abuse or assault is often referred to as sexual battery. Under this definition, a wide range of acts (from groping a breast to violent rape) meets the definition of sex abuse.

There are two key elements that must be present to meet the definition of sexual abuse in Kentucky. First, the contact or touching must intentionally done for the purpose of sexual gratification. Grabbing a woman’s breast in a crowded elevator or to catch her from falling is not sexual abuse because there is no sexual intent behind the contact (and in the case of the crowded elevator the contact may actually be inadvertent entirely).

The second essential element is the lack of consent. For intentional sexual touching to qualify as abuse or assault, it must be done without mutual consent. Under Kentucky law, minors under the age of 18 cannot give consent to sexual touching. Any sexual contact with a minor by an adult is automatically considered sexual battery.

So even if a 16 year-old fully consents and enthusiastically participates in sexual activities with a 25-year-old, those activities meet the definition of sexual abuse because that 16-year-old lacks the legal capacity to give that consent.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Sexual Abuse in Kentucky?

Sexual abuse victims can always sue the individual person that abused them. Usually, however, suing the abusers is somewhat pointless because you won’t be able to get any money from them. Chances are they are either broke, dead or in jail.

The key to getting compensation in sex abuse lawsuit is finding a company, school, or other third party with deep pockets (or insurance) to hold liable for negligence. Kentucky law allows abuse victims to file civil lawsuits against third-parties who were negligent in failing to prevent or stop the abuse. Common third-party defendants in sex abuse civil lawsuits include schools, churches, or organizations such as the boy scouts. If you can show that the one of these organizations had a duty to prevent or stop the abuse and failed to do so, they can be held legally liable for damages.

For example, if a teacher abused you at your school, the school could potentially be liable for negligently failing to stop the abuse or investigate prior complaints against the teacher. Also, if you were sexually abused or assaulted in a dimly lit parking lot, you could sue the parking lot owner for negligent security.

Kentucky Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Before 2003, in Kentucky, victims of child sexual abuse only had until they turned 19 (1 year after reaching the age of majority) to bring a sex abuse lawsuit. There was a singular exception that permitted a victim to sue an abuser’s employer beyond this age limit, but only in cases where the employer had deceitfully hidden the employee’s past abusive actions.

Beginning in 2003, however, a number of extensions to this deadline were introduced. Today, survivors of child sexual abuse in Kentucky have until their 28th birthday to file a civil lawsuit (age of majority plus 10 years). Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 413.249(7)(b) (2021) (stating, “[n]otwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, any claim for childhood sexual assault or abuse that was barred as of March 23, 2021, because the applicable SOLs had expired is hereby revived, and the action may be brought if commenced within five (5) years of the date on which the applicable SOLs expired.”)

Kentucky also has a statutory discovery rule that applies in child sex abuse cases in which victims have repressed memories of abuse. In 2021, Kentucky amended the discovery statute to clarify that the extension to ten years is retroactive and additionally applies to claims against non-perpetrators and entities.

Kentucky Sex Abuse Verdicts and Settlements

$120,000,000 Settlement: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, KY agreed to set aside $120 million (at the time it was the largest sex abuse settlement in U.S. history) for sexual abuse victims of Catholic priests. The settlement amount was later reduced to $85 million and the amount that the Church actually paid was dependent on how many victims came forward and made claims. The agreement divided the victims into 4 groups depending on the circumstances of the abuse and were paid varying amounts ranging from $5,000 to $450,000.

$16,000,000 Verdict: A 9-year-old female suffered emotional distress after she was sexually molested by the male defendant as the defendant babysat the plaintiff. The plaintiff contended that the defendant negligently fondled her in an inappropriate manner, and that his actions were willful and malicious with the intent to harm. The defendant denied liability.

$5,200,000 Settlement: The Diocese of Covington agreed to pay $5.2 million to a group of victims who were allegedly abused by 6 different priests. The priests accused who were made public included Rev. Leonard Nienaber, Rev. Joseph Pilger, and Rev. Earl Bierman. 3 of the 6 priests were criminally convicted for sexual abuse of minors.

$2,000,000 Verdict: A female suffered emotional distress when she was a patient at the defendant hospital and was raped by the codefendant male nursing assistant. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to provide the proper standard of care and failed to properly hire, train, and supervise its personnel.  The plaintiff further contended that the codefendant willfully, intentionally, and maliciously molested her in a sexual manner, and that the attack was unprovoked and inflicted with the intent to harm. The defendants denied liability, and the codefendant contended that the sex act was consensual.

$25,700,000 Settlement: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Louisville agreed to settle claims brought by 240 victims alleging sexual abuse involving 34 priest and church workers, including the infamous Rev. Louis E. Miller, who was accused by more than 90 people of sexual abuse between the 1950s and 1990.

$1,400,000 Settlement: An 18-year-old male suffered sexual molestation by three nonparty inmates at the defendant detention center where he was jailed for charges of speeding and resisting arrest by a police officer. The plaintiff contended that the defendant’s staff willfully and maliciously jailed him in an area with convicted felons in order to teach him a lesson, allowed him to be raped and sodomized, failed to ensure his safety, and violated his civil rights.

$737,000 Verdict: The plaintiff claimed he was sexually abused by Rev. Earl Bierman and the jury awarded $737,000 against the Diocese of Louisville for negligence.

Contact Us About Kentucky Sex Abuse Lawsuits

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

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