Oregon Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Under Oregon 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 Oregon. We will also analyze the potential settlement value of Oregon sex abuse lawsuits.

How is Sexual Abuse Defined in Oregon?

Sexual abuse and sexual assault are defined in Oregon as any deliberate or intentional sexual touching or contact without the other individual’s consent, motivated by sexual gratification, arousal, or humiliation. In the context of a civil lawsuit, sex abuse or assault is often referred to as “sexual battery.”

To meet the criteria of sexual abuse or “sexual battery,” two key elements 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 Oregon 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. 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.

When Can Victims Sue for Sexual Abuse?

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

Holding Organizations Liable in Oregon Sex Abuse Lawsuits

In a sex abuse lawsuit, the individual who committed the sexual abuse or assault will always have direct liability and can be named as a defendant. The only problem with suing the abuser is that unless they are rich they probably don’t have the financial resources to pay a big settlement or verdict. For that reason alone, suing the individual abuser is often a pointless endeavor.

The way to get compensation in a sex abuse lawsuit is to sue a third-party organization like a school, church, or company. Schools, churches and other institutional third-parties can be held liable in sex abuse lawsuits based on negligence. If the third-party negligently failed to prevent the abuse (or covered it up) then they can be held liable. Below are some common examples of the types of negligence claims that can be asserted against third-party defendants in sex abuse cases:

  • Not properly screening employees for history of sexual misconduct
  • Ignoring red flags or warning signs about misconduct
  • Disregarding or failing to investigate complaints
  • Concealing or ignoring evidence of sexual misconduct

Here is an example of how third parties can be held liable in sex abuse civil lawsuits. Late’s say Stacy was sexually abused by her public school teacher Mr. Smith. Stacy 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. Stacy can file a sex abuse lawsuit against the school for negligence.

Oregon Sexual Abuse Settlements and Verdicts

$3,500,000 Verdict: A pair of former students claimed that they were sexually abused by their former elementary school principal, Jeffrey Hays. Hays was convicted on 6 counts of child sexual abuse and sentenced to over 40 years in prison. Hays was principal at Deep Creek Elementary School in Damascus from 2005 to 2009, when he moved to Hillsboro schools, to serve as executive director at the City View Center Charter School until 2018.

$4,000,000 Settlement: The Archdiocese of Portland settled claims brought by 8 victims who alleged that they were sexually abused as children in the 1970s and 1980s. The abuser was Rev. Pius Brazauskas and most of the victims were former altar boys when the acts of abuse occurred.

$3,500,000 Settlement:The lawsuit alleged that a school district failed to stop predatory behavior by teacher and coach Kyle Jarred Wroblewski, who abused Doe when she was 16. Despite being aware of Wroblewski’s conduct for over a decade, the district took no action until his arrest in 2018 Superintendent Scot Stockwell was informed of Wroblewski’s behavior but did nothing.. Wroblewski, who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges, had a history of complaints that were not adequately addressed by the district. The $3.5 million settlement in 2024 was paid by the school district’s insurance company.

$665,000 Settlement: Plaintiffs are four children who were sexually molested by the teenage son of the head deacon at the defendant church. The plaintiffs contended during discovery they learned the church had several warnings the perpetrator was emotionally disturbed and had a perverse interest in young children. Specifically, a teacher’s diary was discovered in which she related that one mother had complained the perpetrator had followed her daughters to the bathroom.  They contended it was also learned the perpetrator’s father (who as head deacon was in charge of security at the church) knew his son had attempted to molest a child at his home.

$4,300,000 Verdict: 14-year-old boy scout suffered emotional distress after he was sexually molested by the 62-year-old defendant scoutmaster, who was a repeat sexual offender. The plaintiff named the scoutmaster, the Boy Scouts of America, and the local scouting council as co-defendants. The plaintiff contended that the defendant scoutmaster coerced him into performing homosexual acts on a scout camping trip.  The plaintiff further contended that the defendant council had failed to investigate prior reports and complaints alleging sexual molestation by the defendant scoutmaster. The plaintiff also contended that the defendant council failed to void the defendant individual’s scoutmaster status and registration with the boy scouts, failed to adequately foresee that the individual would continue to molest scouts, failed to adequately supervise the plaintiff on the outing, and failed to notify the boy scout national headquarters of the complaints against the defendant scoutmaster.

$654,570 Settlement: The plaintiff suffered withdrawal, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, and behavioral changes after she was sexually molested on a daily basis for about one year at a private day care center she attended. The abuse occurred when she was 6 years old.

$40,000 Verdict: A 26-year-old female alleged that she suffered sexual molestation and emotional distress inflicted by the male defendant, who was involved in an intimate relationship with her nonparty sister. The plaintiff contended that the defendant intentionally molested her while she was asleep and was incapable of consenting to the sexual contact, and that his actions resulted in her emotional distress and a loss in the quality of life.

Oregon Sex Abuse News & Updates

June 2, 2024: The St. Helens School District in Oregon has agreed to a 3.5 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed by a former student. The lawsuit alleged that school officials failed to protect female students from predatory abuse by Kyle Wroblewski, a teacher and track coach, who was arrested in 2018 for sexually abusing the student.

Wroblewski’s abuse spanned over a decade, beginning when the victim was 15 years old. Despite multiple warnings and disciplinary actions dating back to 2008, including a three-day suspension in 2009, the district retained Wroblewski. He continued to abuse students until his arrest, which resulted in a 50-month jail sentence and a requirement to register as a sex offender.

This could not be a more classic case of a predator who left every possible clue he was a predator, and those clues were summarily ignored. Kyle Wroblewski began his teaching career at Springfield High School in 1998, where he met his future wife, then a 17-year-old student. If that does not raise red flags, I’m not sure what will.

He stayed at it. In 2005, a female student accused Wroblewski of inappropriate behavior. No action was taken by SHHS or the district. In December 2007, another student reported sexual comments and inappropriate touching by Wroblewski, leading to an investigation. The findings were summarized in a “Conference Letter,” and Wroblewski received a “Letter of Directive” outlining the district’s expectations for his conduct, including no physical contact with students.

Of course, that stopped nothing. By July 2008, more than twenty students reported misconduct, including an incident where Wroblewski was seen massaging a female student’s hamstring and groin. SHHS Principal Nanette Hagen recommended his termination to Superintendent Patricia Adams, who did not follow through.

In April 2009, after more incidents, Hagen formally reprimanded Wroblewski, suspended him for three days (later somehow reduced to one), and relieved him of his coaching duties, although it is unclear if this was enforced. Despite further restrictions and a list of expectations sent by Adams in May 2009, there was no follow-up to ensure compliance.

In 2015, Superintendent Scot Stockwell was informed of Wroblewski’s history of inappropriate behavior and concerns about inadequate supervision but did not take action. This prolonged failure to address Wroblewski’s misconduct allowed him to continue his predatory behavior for over a decade until his arrest.

Wroblewski was found to have sexually harassed and abused at least 20 female students from 2005 to 2015. The lawsuit accused the district of violating the former student’s civil rights and displaying reckless indifference to student safety. The settlement is, as it should be, the largest ever paid by a public school district in a sex abuse lawsuit in Oregon.

Contact Us About Oregon Sex Abuse Lawsuits

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

Contact Information