South Carolina Sex Abuse Lawsuits

This post will look at sex abuse and assault lawsuits in South Carolina. We will look at some of the key points of law regarding sex abuse lawsuits in South Carolina, including the statute of limitations. We will also examine the potential settlement value of South Carolina sexual abuse lawsuits.

South Carolina Sex Abuse Lawsuit Updates:

February 25, 2024: A new lawsuit was filed in federal court against the South Carolina Department of Social Services alleging that it forced children to undergo unnecessary and traumatic genital exams during sexual abuse investigations.

August 10, 2023: A former Catholic priest in Charleston, Jaime Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, known as Father Gonzalez, pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child. Father Gonzalez admitted in federal court that he took an 11-year-old boy across state lines with the intent of engaging in a sexual relationship with him. Father Gonzalez served in various roles at the Charleston Diocese from 2015 to 2020.

What Is Sexual Abuse Under South Carolina Law?

The legal definition of sexual abuse or sexual assault in South Carolina is mostly the same as in other states. Under South Carolina law, any form of unwanted and intentional sexual touching or contact can qualify as sex abuse. The contact or touching is considered “sexual” when it involves a person’s intimate body parts and is done for the purpose of gratification.

This definition is obviously very broad and it can theoretically include anything from groping to forcible rape. The 2 key elements that must be present to meet the definition of sexual abuse are: (1) physical touching, and (2) lack of consent.

The first element of sex abuse is physical touching. To constitute sexual abuse or assault there must be actual physical contact of a sexual nature. Verbal sexual harassment is not enough.

The second element of sexual abuse or assault is the absence of consent. Lack of consent is the key element that defines all categories of sexual assault. If the sexual touching is not consensual it is automatically abuse or assault. Minors (anyone under the age of 18) lack the legal capacity to give consent, which means any sexual touching by an adult with a minor is necessarily considered sexual abuse.

Third-Party Liability in South Carolina Sex Abuse Cases

The most obvious defendant in a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse is the person who actually committed the abuse. But going after the abuser may only have symbolic value because in 99% of cases the abuser won’t have money to pay any verdict or settlement. The only exception to this is if the abuser is someone who is very wealthy.

The most effective way to get real money in a civil lawsuit for sex abuse or assault is to sue a third party for negligence in connection with the abuse. Common examples of third party liability cases include:

  • School Sex Abuse Lawsuits: Schools have a duty to protect students from sexual abuse by teachers, staff and other students. If a student gets sexually abused by a teacher, or school employee, the school will almost always have some liability.
  • Hazing Abuse Lawsuits: Sometimes sexual abuse can occur in the context of hazing rituals. Victims of this type of sexual abuse can sue the college and/or the sorority or fraternity.
  • Church Sex Abuse Lawsuits: These are probably the most familiar type of third party sex abuse lawsuits. If the church negligently failed to deal with a suspected child molester in their ranks, they can be liable in a sex abuse lawsuit.

Filing Sex Abuse Lawsuits in South Carolina

South Carolina sex abuse victims to file civil lawsuits and seek financial compensation. The right to bring a civil lawsuit is not contingent on whether the victim pressed criminal charges. Abuse victims can file a civil suit regardless of whether they reported the abuse to the police when it happened. It also doesn’t matter whether the abuser was convicted.

Victims can bring civil lawsuits for sexual abuse as long as they are presently willing to testify under oath about the facts of the alleged sexual abuse or assault. The victim’s testimony can also be supported by other forms of evidence such as medical records or fact testimony from other witnesses.

If you file a sexual abuse lawsuit in South Carolina, the case will be public record. However, you  may be able to keep your name and identity confidential. South Carolina’s court rules allows victims in these situations to keep their name confidential and use “Jane Doe” or initials in the court filings.

Statute of Limitations on South Carolina Sex Abuse Lawsuits

South Carolina has a fairly restrictive statute of limitations for child sex abuse civil claims. If the victim is an adult when the sexual abuse occurred, the only have 3 years to file a lawsuits under South Carolina’s general statute of limitations for personal injuries. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 15-3-530(5)

If the victim was a minor (under age 18) when the sexual abuse or assault occurred, they have until their 27th birthday to file a civil sex abuse lawsuit. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-555. South Carolina’s SOL in sex abuse cases can be extended under the “discovery rule” that tolls the SOL by giving a victim 3 years to bring a claim after they “knew or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known that he had a cause of action.”

South Carolina Sex Abuse Settlements and Verdicts

$75,000 Settlement: A 17-year-old alleged that she was sexually molested by another minor at the school where they were both students. The plaintiff contended that the school was negligent and failed to properly supervise the students to ensure their safety. The school denied liability and disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, but eventually agreed to settle.

$50,000 Settlement: The plaintiff, a 15-year-old girl, alleged that she was taken to a motel and sexually assaulted after she went to a nightclub and was served alcohol. She sued both the nightclub and the motel. She alleged that the club served alcoholic beverages to a minor, negligently provided her with an incorrect stamp that indicated she was 18-years-old, continued to serve her when she was visibly intoxicated, and failed to provide a safe environment for its patrons.

$240,000 Settlement: A 16-year-old female handicap student was raped by an18-year-old male student when the defendant school’s bus driver left the two of them alone.  The plaintiff contended that the 18-year-old male had a known history of sexually molesting female students in wheelchairs and that the defendant was negligent in failing to provide adequate supervision.

$30,000,000 Verdict: The female plaintiff was raped and molested repeatedly from the age of 7-years-old to 15-years-old by the defendant, her stepfather. As a result, she suffered psychosis-like symptoms such as hearing voices. She is also very untrusting of adults and her peers. No indication was given as to whether the stepfather had money to pay for this verdict.

$35,000 Settlement: A 17-year-old male alleged that he suffered emotional distress when he was sexually assaulted at the defendant’s hotel, where he was a guest. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to provide adequate security personnel to ensure customer safety.

$105,000,000 Verdict: The male victim in this case was sexually molested by a teacher at his private school. The abuse began when he was 9 years old and lasted for a long time. The lawsuit against the school alleged that it negligently failed to protect its student from the abuse.

$125,000 Settlement: A 5-year-old boy was sexually assault in a taxi cab by the cab driver as he was transporting the boy to his home. The plaintiff contended that the cab company failed to hire, train, and supervise its employees, failed to conduct background searches on prospective drivers, and failed to use due care for the safety of its customers.

Contact Us About South Carolina Sex Abuse Lawsuits

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

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