Missouri Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Under Missouri law, anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse or assault can file a civil lawsuit and potentially get financial compensation. This post will discuss the basic elements of a sex abuse civil lawsuit in Missouri. We will also examine the potential settlement value of Missouri sex abuse lawsuits.

Missouri Sex Abuse Lawsuit Updates

April 3, 2024 – Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Extended Stay America Hotels

A sex abuse lawsuit initiated this week accuses Extended Stay America hotels of complicity and profit from the sex trafficking of a woman identified here as K.R.M. She alleges that the companies’ actions and omissions directly facilitated her exploitation. The lawsuit alleges that the sex trafficking occurred at an Extended Stay America hotel located on N. Linbergh Boulevard in Hazelwood, Missouri.

The suit contends that K.R.M. was the victim of sex trafficking, subjected to force, fraud, and coercion for the financial benefit of her trafficker at an Extended Stay America location. It argues that the defendants, given the visible and known prevalence of trafficking in the hospitality sector, either knew or should have known of such activities and yet failed to adequately or effectively intervene.

February 28, 2024 – Law to Extend Missouri Statute of Limitations in Sex Abuse Cases

As we discuss below, Missouri law requires victims of sexual abuse as children to pursue legal action by the age of 31 or within three years of recognizing the cause of their injury or illness as related to the abuse.  A new bill aims to extend this statute of limitations by 10 years, allowing victims until the age of 41 to file a lawsuit.

This legislative effort responds to the challenges victims face in confronting their trauma and seeking justice. The push for change is supported by data indicating a significant percentage of children in the U.S. experience sexual abuse before adulthood, with many not reporting the abuse until much later in life, with the average age of reporting for males being 52. So the new statute of limitations would still be unfair to victims… but at least better than what we have now.

The bill has garnered unanimous support from the Missouri House Judiciary Committee for two consecutive years and passed the Missouri House in the 2023 session. Yet, incredibly, it has yet to overcome imaginary hurdles in the Missouri Senate. People would lose their minds if they saw how the sausage was made, particularly with litigation like this that would bring justice to victims who have suffered so much.

Survivors and family members affected by abuse at Kanakuk Kamps have testified in favor of the bill, highlighting the long-lasting impact of abuse and the legal and emotional challenges of pursuing justice under current limitations.

Definition of Sexual Abuse in Missouri

Sexual abuse and sexual assault are defined in Missouri as any deliberate sexual touching or contact without the other individual’s consent, motivated by sexual gratification, arousal, or humiliation.

To meet the criteria of sexual abuse or battery, two fundamental components must be present. First, the sexual touching must be intentional. Instances where one unintentionally touches a person’s breast or genitals, such as in a crowded elevator or while attempting to prevent a fall, lack the requisite intent to qualify as sexual battery.

The second crucial element is the absence of consent. For intentional sexual touching to be deemed sexual abuse, it must occur without consent. Under Missouri law, individuals under 18 years of age are incapable of providing consent for sexual touching. This means that any sexual interaction with a minor by an adult is automatically classified as sexual battery.

For example, if an adult engages in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old, it constitutes sexual battery even if the 15-year-old consents willingly. Legally, the 15-year-old lacks the capacity to consent to sexual contact with the adult.

When Can Abuse Victims Sue?

Sexual abuse or assault is both a criminal and civil offense in Missouri. This means that sex abuse victims have the right to press criminal charges and/or file a civil lawsuit and seek financial compensation. Anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse or assault can file a lawsuit.

Sex abuse victims can file a civil lawsuit regardless of whether the abuser was ever criminally charged or convicted. In fact, victims can file a civil lawsuit even if they never reported it to the police and even if they never told anyone about the incident.

The evidentiary burden for proving sexual battery in a civil case is much lower than the burden in a criminal case. This means it is much easier for a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit to prove that the sexual abuse or assault occurred. So even if an abuser escapes criminal justice, they can still be held accountable in a civil court.

Who Can Be Held Liable in Missouri Sex Abuse Lawsuits?

The individual person who committed the abuse or assault can always be a defendant in a sex abuse civil lawsuit. The only issue is that person might already be dead or in jail, and they probably don’t have enough money to pay a verdict or settlement for the lawsuit.

If you want to get money out of a sexual abuse lawsuit you will to have a viable claim against a third party with deep pockets like a school, church, or corporation. Under Missouri law, third parties can be held liable if the victim can show that they were somehow negligent in preventing the sexual abuse or failing to protect the victim.


Here is an example of how third parties can be held liable in sex abuse civil lawsuits. Late’s say Sally was sexually abused by her public school teacher Mr. Smith. Sally never told anyone about the abuse, but the school had previously received several complaints about Mr. Smith’s inappropriate conduct and they never bothered to investigate. Sally can file a sex abuse lawsuit against the school for negligence.

Statute of Limitations for Missouri Sex Abuse Lawsuits

If the sexual abuse occurred when the victim was a minor (under the age of 18), then that victim has until their 31st birthday (10 years after reaching age 21) to file a civil lawsuit based on that sexual abuse. Missouri also has a “delayed discovery” exception that applies in child sex abuse cases. Under this rule, a childhood sexual abuse victim has 3 years from the time that they first discover that they have a physical or psychological injury caused by the abuse. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.046.

Sex Abuse Lawsuits Against the Catholic Church in Missouri

In Missouri, there have been significant sex abuse lawsuits, particularly involving the Catholic Church. For instance, in November 2023, a Missouri Catholic priest, Father Ignazio Medina, was found guilty by the church of soliciting sex from an adult during confession and was subsequently prohibited from holding office, hearing confessions, and publicly celebrating or leading Mass without explicit permission from his diocesan bishop. This case highlighted issues of abuse within the church and the actions taken by church authorities in response to such allegations​.

Additionally, the St. Louis Archdiocese agreed to a $1 million settlement in June 2023 for a lawsuit filed by a man who was sexually abused as a minor by a priest from the Ascension Catholic Church in Chesterfield. This settlement is part of a broader pattern of legal actions taken against the church for sexual abuse by clergy members​​.

In July 2019, the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a list naming 64 clergy members with substantial allegations of child sexual abuse, further revealing the extent of the issue within the church in Missouri.​

Missouri Sex Abuse Verdicts and Settlements

  • $1,675,000 Settlement: The Archdiocese of St. Louis agreed to settle claims by the family of a boy who was sexually abused by a priest. The priest admitted to sexually abusing the boy several times. The victim was in kindergarten when the abuse began and the priest was sentenced to 15 years.
  • $2,250,000 Verdict: adult female participants in a drug court operated by defendant Lincoln County, claimed they were sexually abused/assaulted by a sheriff’s employee who was hired as the tracker in the drug court program, the person who interacted with them on a daily basis, enforced their curfews, took them for urine tests and monitored them for minor offenses. The alleged that he used his control over their lives to coerce them into sexual favors.
  • $2,000,000 Settlement: The Archdiocese of St. Louis agreed to pay $2 million to resolve sexual abuse claims brought by a group of 18 victims who claimed that they were abused by a group of 6 different priests, and at least one nun. Each claimant received about $110,000 in compensation.
  • $160,000 Settlement: A Catholic religious order (the Marianist Province of the United States) agreed to settle a case in which a former student at a private school operated by the order (St. John Vianney High School). The student claimed that he was sexually abused by one of the Brothers who was a teacher at the school.
  • $10,000,000 Settlement: The diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph agreed to pay $10 million to resolve sexual abuse claim brought by a group of over 40 victims. The victims alleged that they were abused by members of the diocese between the late 1950s and the mid 1990s.
  • $2,000,000 Settlement: The diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph settled this case in which a priest (Father Shawn Ratigan) took pornographic pictures and videos of a 2-year-old girl. Over the year, Ratigan was found to have taken similar pictures of hundreds of children.

Contact Us About Missouri Sex Abuse Lawsuits

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

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