Tennessee Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault can file civil lawsuits against their abuser and other third parties, such as schools, churches, etc. Our sex abuse lawyers help victims get financial compensation by filing civil lawsuits against parties who negligently allowed the abuse to occur or failed to prevent it.

In this post, we will discuss the process of filing a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse in Tennessee. We will look at the relevant laws regarding sex abuse and the average settlement value of these cases.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Sex Abuse in Tennessee

Tennessee law permits victims of sex abuse to bring civil lawsuits and seek monetary 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. Other forms of evidence, such as medical records or fact testimony from other witnesses, can also support the victim’s testimony.

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

Definition of Sex Abuse in Tennessee

Under Tennessee law, any non-consensual sexual touching or contact made with the intent of sexual gratification is considered sexual abuse or sexual assault. In the context of a civil lawsuit, sexual abuse is referred to as the tort of sexual battery. It generally has the same definition and meaning as criminal offenses.

For sexual contact to meet the definition of sexual battery, two essential elements must be present: (1) sexual intent, and (2) lack of consent.

The sexual intent element is established by showing that the defendant engaged in sexual contact with the clear and express purposes of sexual gratification or arousal. An innocent or accidental sexual touching does not amount to sexual battery.

The second element is the absence of consent. Children do not have the legal capacity to give consent to any sexual touching. This means that any intentional sexual contact with a minor by an adult lacks consent and qualifies as sexual battery.

Holding Third Parties Liable for Sexual Abuse in Tennessee

If someone has been sexually abused or attacked, they have the right to sue in civil court to get compensation. This means they can ask for money to make up for what happened. Even if they didn’t tell anyone about the abuse or didn’t go to the police, they can still take legal action.

But who can they sue? Well, they can sue the person who hurt them, but that might not lead to getting any money, especially if that person is already dead or in jail.

The main aim of a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse is to hold another party responsible. Holding third parties liable is the key to financial success in these cases. This could be someone else who was supposed to protect the victim but didn’t. For instance, if the abuse happened at school, the school might be responsible for not stopping it or looking into complaints about the abuser. Other examples of these responsible parties could be churches, organizations like the Boy Scouts, or any group where the abuse took place because they didn’t take proper care to prevent it.

Statute of Limitations for Tennessee Sex Abuse Lawsuits

The statute of limitations in Tennessee sets a legal deadline for how long victims of sexual abuse can wait before filing a lawsuit. The time limit is much longer when the victims was a child (under the age of 18) when the sexual abuse occurred.

Victims of child sexual abuse in Tennessee have until their 33rd birthday (age of majority plus 15 years) to file a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse or assault. Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104 Tennessee also has a statutory “discovery rule” that can be used to extend this deadline even longer. Under Tennessee’s discovery rule, a victim has 3-years after they “become aware” that they suffered injury as a result of sexual abuse. Both the 33rd birthday and the discovery rule apply to claims against the perpetrator AND claims against third parties like schools and churches. The problem is that 33 is pretty short compared to many other states, which is why Tennessee earned a grade of D on our report card for state sex abuse SOL laws.

Tennessee Juvenile Detention Center Sex Abuse Lawsuits

A growing number of victims who were sexually abused while they were inmates in Tennessee juvenile detention centers are now filing detention center sex abuse lawsuits against the state. In Tennessee, the state Tennessee Department of Juvenile Justice (TDJJ) is tasked with administering justice and correctional services to juvenile offenders. TDJJ has a number of private residential facilities in local communities that they try to use for most juvenile offenders.

For male juvenile offenders who have been deemed delinquent and sentence to incarceration, there are 2 juvenile detention facilities in the state:

  • John S. Wilder (Wilder) Youth Development Center – Somerville, TN
  • Mount View Academy – Dandrige, TN

The Wilder YDC is a state operated facility. Mount View Academy, however, is a privately operated facility that has a long term contract with TDJJ.

Investigations by public and non-profit agencies, as well as an overall increase in public awareness, has revealed that sexual abuse and victimization of inmates at Tennessee juvenile detention centers is a widespread problem. Reports have shown that staff members at these facilities have preyed on the juvenile inmates and exploited them for sexual gratification. Meanwhile, TDJJ and the state have ignored complaints and done nothing to protect inmates.

A growing number of victims are now filing lawsuits against TDJJ and the state for sexual abuse at juvenile detention centers. These detention center sex abuse lawsuits assert that TDJJ negligently failed to perform its duty to ensure the safety and well being of inmates. The lawsuits claim that TDJJ was negligent in the way in which it screen, hired, trained and supervised staff members. They also assert that TDJJ negligently failed to implement policies, procedures, and infrastructure that could have prevented inmates from being victimized.

Settlement Value of Sex Abuse Lawsuits in Tennessee

Successful plaintiffs in a sexual abuse civil lawsuit are entitled to receive all the same types of damages as plaintiffs in normal tort cases. These include medical expenses, lost wages or earnings potential, and mental pain and suffering. Tennessee also allows punitive damages to be awarded in sexual abuse cases.

Sex abuse claims have a very high average settlement amounts because juries tend to get offended by the stories of children being sexually abused. This often leads to very big jury payouts with massive pain and suffering awards which factor into the settlement price tag.

Also, many third-party defendants in sex abuse cases (e.g., schools, churches, etc.) are very eager to settle these cases to avoid negative publicity and protect their public image. This additional incentive often prompts third-party defendants to make bigger settlement offers to get the case resolved quickly.

Tennessee Sex Abuse Settlements and Verdicts

$65,000 Settlement: A woman claimed that she was sexually abused by a reverend from the Diocese of Nashville when she was a student at Aquinas College. She claimed that the reverend, who was her “spiritual advisor” got her drunk and then sexually assaulted her.

$5,000,000 Settlement: The male victims claimed he suffered posttraumatic stress after being sexually molested by the male defendant physician. The plaintiff contended that the defendant administered to him an injection which rendered him unconscious and caused a loss of memory and that he was molested while he was under the influence of the medication. He further contended that the defendant willfully violated his constitutional rights. The defendant admitted that he gave the plaintiff a vaccine injection, but denied liability and disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.

$1,500,000 Settlement: A man alleged that he was sexually abused by Reverend Juan Carlos Duran of the Diocese of Memphis. He claimed that Rev. Duran sexually abused him when he was 14-years-old at a Church in North Memphis (the Church of the Ascension).

$10,000 Settlement: A 4-year-old male was allegedly sexually molested by an x-ray technician at the defendant hospital. The plaintiff contended that the defendant technician insisted that the plaintiff’s father leave the room while the x-rays were taken, then proceeded to lock the door and molest the plaintiff. The plaintiff further contended that the defendant should have known of the employee’s propensities, was notified of prior incidents involving the employee and that they failed to terminate the employee upon notice and failed to properly screen and supervise their employees.

$60,000 Settlement: An 11-year-old female student suffered posttraumatic stress disorder after she was sexually molested by a nonparty male student in a classroom while in the care of the female and male codefendants under the jurisdiction of the defendant school board. This incident occurred when the plaintiff was left alone in the classroom while her teachers took other students to the cafeteria. The plaintiff’s mother contended that the defendant failed to properly hire, train and supervise its teachers, that the plaintiff was left alone in an office for approximately 4 hours and requested to write out what happened, that she had a disability that affected her writing ability and that she was denied access to her mother.

$75,000 Settlement: A 6-year-old male suffered emotional distress when he was sexually molested by another male minor at the defendant daycare center where both were enrolled. The plaintiff contended that the defendants failed to provide reasonable supervision of all children in their care and failed to prevent the physical and emotional abuse of their students. The plaintiff further contended that the defendants had full constructive knowledge of the aggressor child’s perverse nature, that he had sexually assaulted a female minor the day prior to this incident and that no action was taken by the defendants to remove him from their facility or to protect the other daycare students from his attacks.

$8,500 Settlement: A 12-year-old female alleged that she suffered emotional distress after she witnessed the male defendant bus driver, employed by the codefendant, sexually molest several students on a bus trip organized by the third-named defendant. The plaintiff contended that she was subjected to and saw others subjected to repeated offensive and inappropriate sexual touching and molestation. The plaintiff further contended that the codefendant and third-named defendants were vicariously liable for the actions of the defendant based on the doctrine of respondeat superior.

$955,000 Settlement: A 12-year-old female suffered child abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder after she was sexually molested by a nonparty perpetrator who was a counselor at a camp the plaintiff attended, run by the defendant (United Methodist Church). The incident occurred when the nonparty counselor kidnapped, roped, sodomized and left the plaintiff naked and handcuffed. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to properly hire, train and supervise its camp staff, failed to perform thorough background checks prior to hiring prospective employees, that they knew of should have known of his history of mental problems. The plaintiff further contended that the defendant failed to provide proper supervision to ensure the safety of the minor children entrusted to its care.”

Tennessee Sex Abuse News and Updates:

June 24, 2024: Rev. Juan Carlos Garcia-Mendoza, originally indicted in February on multiple sexual abuse charges, now faces additional charges in a new indictment. The associate pastor at St. Philip Catholic Church in Williamson County was charged on June 5 with two more counts of sexual battery. Garcia-Mendoza, ordained in 2020, was removed from ministry in November 2023 after a teen reported improper touching. Following an investigation by a former FBI agent and a diocesan review, the findings were given to the Franklin Police, leading to his arrest. He remains jailed on a $2 million bond with a court date set for July 8.

Contact Us About Tennessee Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

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

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