Montana Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Under Montana law, anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse or assault can file a civil lawsuit against not just the person who abused them, but also against churches, schools, or other third parties who negligently enabled the abuse to happen. This post will look at the basic elements of a sex abuse lawsuit in Montana. We will also analyze the potential settlement value of Montana sex abuse lawsuits.

Definition of Sexual Abuse in Montana

Sexual abuse and sexual assault are defined in Montana 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 Montana 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 You Sue for Sexual Abuse in Montana?

Sexual abuse or assault is both a criminal and civil offense in Montana. 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.

Getting Money in Montana Sex Abuse Lawsuits

The primary and most direct defendant in a sex abuse civil lawsuit is always the person who committed the abuse. The problem is that in most cases suing the individual abuser won’t get you anything because they won’t have money to pay any verdict or settlement (unless the individual is someone very wealthy like Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump).

The best way to get money in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse is to sue a third party for negligence in connection with the abuse. Common examples of third parties who can be sued in sex abuse lawsuits include schools, youth organizations (e.g., Boy Scouts), gyms, etc. These parties can be held liable in a civil case if the plaintiff can show that they their negligence somehow enabled the abuse to occur or to continue. Third parties in sex abuse lawsuits can also be held liable if they attempted to cover up abuse incidents after the fact.

Let’s consider a very typical example of how third parties can be held liable for sex abuse. Let’s say that a guard at a juvenile detention facility is sexually abusing inmates. Several of these victims file complaints, but the facility basically ignores them and allows the guard to continue his abuse. The victim can file a civil lawsuit against the detention facility (or the state agency that operates it) for negligently failing to investigate and protect them from abuse.

Dr. Tyler Hurst Patient Sext Abuse Lawsuits

Dr. Tyler Hurst, an emergency medicine doctor in Montana, recently pled guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual assault against patients. Dr. Hurst admitted to sexually abusing several female patients while they were under his care at a hospital in Missoula. Victims of Dr. Hurst’s abuse may be eligible to file civil lawsuits and seek compensation. Our firm is currently investigating these cases.

Montana Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse Lawsuits

In recent years, investigations and high-profile cases have called attention to the fact that sexual abuse of minor inmates at juvenile detention facilities in Montana is a widespread problem. Federal and state investigations and reports have revealed that juveniles in Montana juvenile detention centers were frequently subjected to sexual abuse by staff members. These predatory staff members were hired to protect the juvenile inmates under their care, but instead they used threats, force, and coercion to subject them to sexual abuse and assault.

These reports have also shown that the state of Montana and its various counties were negligent in failing to prevent this abuse. Both the state of Montana, the counties that operated local juvenile detention facilities, and various privately operated facilities, systematically ignored reports of abuse, failed to properly screen staff members, and failed to enact safeguards to protect juvenile inmates from sexual abuse. A growing number of victims are now filing lawsuits against the state of Montana for sexual abuse at juvenile detention centers. Some of the main juvenile detention facilities in Montana include:

  • Cascade County Juvenile Detention Center – Great Falls, MT
  • Missoula County Juvenile Detention Center – Missoula, MT
  • Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility – Miles City, MT

Victims of sexual abuse in Montana juvenile correctional facilities are now bringing detention center sex abuse lawsuits against the state and getting financial compensation.

Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Lawsuits in Montana

Compared to other states, Montana has a very strict and limited statute of limitations deadline for filing civil sex abuse lawsuits, even sexual abuse involving a child. Under Montana’s SOL, victims of childhood sexual abuse only have until their 27th birthday (age of majority plus 9 years). MONT. CODE. ANN. § 27-2-216

This deadline can potentially be extended by Montana’s 3-year “discovery rule” that gives victims of abuse 3 years from the date that they “discover” that they were sexually abused. In

Montana Sex Abuse Verdicts and Settlements

$21,000,000 Settlement: The Diocese of Helena agreed to pay $21,000,000 to settle clergy sexual abuse claims brought by a group of over 360 individual victims. The settlement agreement was reached through mediation within the Diocese bankruptcy and most of the settlement is being covered by insurance carriers for the Diocese.

$2,200,000 Verdict: A 16-year-old female suffered sexual molestation inflicted by the male defendant at a nonparty apartment building. The plaintiff contended that the defendant wrongfully lured her to the apartment building, along with a nonparty female friend, and forced her to engage in sexual acts with him in exchange for money. The defendant denied liability and contended that the plaintiff and her nonparty friend consented to the sexual acts.

$20,000,000 Settlement: The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings reached a $20 million settlement with a group of 86 victims of alleged clergy sexual abuse. The alleged sexual abuse occurred between the 1940s and the 1980s and involved over 20 separate priests and other clergy.

$20,000 Verdict: A 16-year-old female alleged that she suffered molestation and emotional distress when the 63-year-old male defendant paid her and her 15-year-old friend so he could watch them kissing, and that he joined them and performed oral sex upon them. The plaintiff contended that the defendant sexually molested her without her consent, that the encounter was painful, and that she felt threatened by him.

$160,000 Verdict: A 10-year-old female suffered emotional distress as the result of being sexually abused by the defendant state’s foster child was placed in the care of the plaintiff’s grandparents. The plaintiff claimed that the foster child had been sexually abused by his parents and had sexually abused other individuals in previous foster homes and facilities. The plaintiff contended that the defendant negligently failed to warn of the foster child’s sexual history. The defendant claimed that they warned the plaintiff that the foster child was ‘physically violent‘ and contended that this was an adequate warning.

Contact Us About Montana Sex Abuse Lawsuits

If you have a potential lawsuit in Montana for sexual abuse or assault, contact our attorneys today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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