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Seattle Lawyers for Sexual Abuse by Teachers Claims

Strong advocacy for Washington students who suffer abuse in school and after-school activities

Students in grade schools, trade schools, and universities are often subject to sexual abuse by their teachers and professors. What makes teacher abuse so troubling is that children, teenagers, and young adults place their trust in their teachers to protect them. When teachers sexually abuse students, that trust is destroyed, bringing with it the physical and emotional trauma of the sexual abuse. At Smith McBroom, we hold teachers, schools, school districts, and anyone in a position of authority who should have stopped sexual abuse accountable. Our Seattle lawyers work to ensure sexual abuse by teachers stops immediately and that your child is fully compensated for their physical and emotional injuries.

Free Case Evaluation

Call 206-677-5941 now or fill out the form above to receive a free, confidential consultation.

How common is sexual abuse by teachers in Washington?

According to Psychology Today, educators play a critical role in the development of our children. While many teachers are inspiring, sadly, about 10% of all students will experience sexual misconduct by an educator before they complete high school. Teacher sexual misconduct includes:

  • Verbal sexual abuse – sexual comments and jokes
  • Visual sexual abuse – exposing genitals or sharing inappropriate photos and videos
  • Physical sexual abuse – touching, fondling, kissing, and intercourse

Educator abuse includes teachers, administrators, bus drivers, coaches, and support staff. The 10% sexual abuse of students figure comes from a 2004 study by Charol Shakeshaft (commissioned by the US Department of Education). In 2020, the Office of Civil Rights found that between 2017-2018:

  • There were 14,152 allegations of sexual assault (fondling, indecent liberties, child molestation, and rape) nationwide
  • 786 allegations of rape or attempted rape

Psychology Today reports that its own large-scale, multistate survey found that educator sexual misconduct is still much too high. “Of the 6632 participants, 11.7 percent reported having experienced at least one form of educator sexual misconduct during grades K-12.”

The study found that:

  • Most offenders were teachers (63.4%) or coaches/gym teachers (19.7%).
  • Most offenders were males (89.1%).
  • 72% of the people who experienced educator sexual misconduct were female and in high school when the sexual assault occurred.
  • The sexual misconduct often included gifts, food money, jewelry, and special attention
  • The reporting rates were very low.
  • The rate of teacher discipline was low.

The long-term consequences include poor psychological well-being, suicide attempts, alcohol and drug use, and coercive sexual intercourse.

Students are often targets of sexual assault and abuse because they’re in a position of trust and authority and can groom new victims.

How is sexual abuse of a student defined in Washington?

Washington has several statutes that define sexual abuse of a child and related sexual offenses:

  • RCW 9A.44.073-079. Rape of a child. This offense includes non-consensual sexual penetration or intercourse. Generally, young minors cannot give consent.
  • RCW 9A.44.083-089. Child molestation. This offense involves any sexual contact with a minor.
  • RCW 9A.44.093-093. Sexual misconduct with a minor. We’ll explain the age requirements that apply to the perpetrators and the victims.

Other sexual abuse charges involving minors include:

  • 9A.44.083. Child molestation in the first degree.
  • 9A.44.100. Indecent liberties.
  • Other crimes.

What is the mandatory reporting of sexual abuse by teachers requirement?

Different federal and state laws are designed to protect children from sexual abuse by teachers and other educators. Many Washington universities and school districts have their own policies and procedures.

According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), mandatory reporters of sexual abuse include:

  • DSHS employees and Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) employees
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Social workers
  • Professional school personnel
  • Individual providers
  • Operators and employees of certain facilities
  • Many other people and officials

DCYF states that the following people must report the abuse or neglect of a child: medical practitioners, nurses, dentists, therapists, social service counselors, psychologists, school personnel, child care providers, law enforcement officers, juvenile probation officers, state family and children’s ombudsman, and “adults residing with children suspected to have been severely abused.”

Sexual abuse means, “Any form of nonconsensual sexual conduct, including but not limited to unwanted or inappropriate touching, rape, molestation, indecent liberties, sexual coercion, sexually explicit photographing or recording, voyeurism, indecent exposure, and sexual harassment.” Other definitions also apply.

Sexual abuse should be reported to local law enforcement officers or to a child welfare agency. School personnel generally includes school administrators, teachers, counselors, and aides. Generally, the people required to report sexual abuse of a child and do so are protected from liability. The people who fail to file mandatory reports may be liable for their failures.

At Washington State University, all WSU employees with knowledge of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct must promptly file a report with the Washington State University Compliance and Civil Rights (CCR) Office or a designated Title IX Deputy Coordinator. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination (including sexual assault) in education.

Other schools and universities have or should have their own policies.

What are the signs a student has been sexually abused?

Determining if your child has been sexually abused or assaulted can be difficult. Many children are afraid to talk. It generally helps to have your child speak with his/her doctor or professional sexual abuse counselors.

DCYF states that the signs of sexual abuse in a child include:

  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • A lack of interest or willingness to participate in gym or other physical activities
  • Nightmares and bedwetting
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much
  • “Bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior”
  • Pregnancy or contracting a venereal disease
  • Running away
  • Secrecy and isolation

Young children may return to playing with dolls and sucking their thumbs. They may become irritable when dressing or undressing.

Older children may hide their bodies with extra clothing, change their hygiene, or even self-injure themselves. All children may experience nightmares, insomnia, and unusual sexual inquiries or actions.

What should you do if you suspect your child is being sexually abused by a teacher?

Parents, relatives, and friends can help children who may be the victims of sexual abuse in Seattle by:

  • Creating a supportive environment where children feel free to discuss their trauma without shame or doubt.
  • Reporting the abuse to local law enforcement officials and child service agencies, including DCYF and Child Protective Services. The police and/or child service agencies should contact the school and make arrangements to arrest the offending teacher or educator.
  • Helping your child obtain professional medical help from physicians and experienced sexual assault psychologists and counselors. Many parents take their child to a local hospital where they can be examined and treated for any sexual diseases, physical injuries, and emotional trauma. Most hospitals have rape kits to help determine if your child is a victim of rape.
  • Contacting our experienced Seattle sexual assault lawyers. We’ll investigate your claim, work with our network of sexual assault healthcare providers who are especially skilled at helping children explain what happened, get help for their trauma, and file complaints against everyone responsible.

Both parents and children should stop their social media posts and comments.

Where does sexual abuse of students occur?

At Smith McBroom, we handle all types of student sexual abuse. Some of the common settings for sexual abuse include:

  • Public schools.
  • Private schools. Generally, there is less vetting of teachers and administrators at private schools compared to public schools.
  • After-school activities.
  • Activities away from school.

Who is responsible when teachers sexually abuse their students?

The teacher or educator is responsible for his/her misconduct. In many sexual assault cases, we coordinate your child’s civil claim with any criminal charges filed against the teacher or school employee.

Other responsible parties may include:

  • Anyone with a mandatory duty to report sexual abuse of a child and failed to do so.
  • The school where the teacher taught for failing to conduct background checks, respond to complaints of sexual assault or abuse, and have policies and procedures in place to encourage the reporting of sexual abuse and to protect children from sexual abuse. For example, schools should have policies to limit the time a teacher spends with a child without another adult being present.
  • The school district that governed the school your child attended.
  • The administrators of the school where the abuse occurred.
  • Any person in a position of authority who was aware of the abuse and failed to protect your child.
  • Third parties, such as vendors and contractors, who may have sexually assaulted or abused your child.

How do you fight for students who are sexually abused in Seattle?

Our Seattle sexual abuse lawyers represent students of all ages and all school levels – elementary school, middle school, high school, trade school, and college. We understand the unique challenges involved in student sexual abuse litigation. These challenges include helping your child communicate what happened while working as much as possible to limit their time in a courtroom and maximizing their chance for a strong physical and emotional recovery.

We work with counselors who help children of all backgrounds feel safe.

Our lawyers formally question everyone involved who knows about what happened. We investigate prior allegations of sexual abuse. We work with physicians who can explain the severity of your child’s trauma and what medical care and school assistance can help your child – even if that means helping your child change schools.

We demand compensation for your child’s current and future:

  • Medical expenses, including physical and emotional rehabilitation, surgeries, and psychological care
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering
  • Loss of quality of life and confidence

Do you have a Settle sexual abuse lawyer near me?

Smith McBroom consults with parents and students at our Seattle office at 16400 Southcenter Parkway Suite 210. We also speak with clients away from the office when necessary. We’re happy to speak by phone and through online consultations.

We’ve helped many sexual abuse victims including younger victims. We’ll explain your child’s rights, answer all your questions, and guide you through the claims process.

Seattle lawyers fighting to hold teachers accountable for sexual abuse

Our sexual abuse lawyers understand how devastating sexual abuse is. We work with professional rape and sexual abuse counselors who help students communicate what happened and what their current fears are. Your child is not alone. Smith McBroom has helped many sexual abuse victims hold their abusers and those who could have prevented the abuse accountable. Please call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We’re ready to protect your child. We represent sexual abuse victims in Tukwila, Seattle, and across Washington state.