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Who Can Be Held Accountable for Sexual Abuse and Assault?


As we discussed in a recent post, the landscape for survivors of sexual abuse and assault seems to be evolving. Amidst a flurry of high-profile allegations, Americans are exploring issues of justice and accountability with increasing urgency.

Many people wonder how justice can be served in the aftermath of sexual abuse. We’ve already introduced the possibility of civil lawsuits against perpetrators of sexual assault. However, sometimes multiple parties contribute to assault – and the law may provide ways for them to share legal responsibility.

Third-Party Claims for Sexual Assault

In addition to naming the perpetrator of the assault in a lawsuit, many survivors also pursue third-party claims against others who played a role. This increases the victim’s chances of securing fair compensation and also encourages these parties to change behavior in order to prevent future assaults.

Examples of parties who may be found partially liable for sexual abuse include:

  • A security company that failed to monitor or intervene in an area where the assault occurred
  • An employer that failed to properly screen or supervise an employee who assaulted someone
  • A school, childcare facility or university that knew about the risk of assault but failed to act on it
  • A negligent landlord, innkeeper or hotel staff
  • A hospital or nursing home that employed an abuser

The decision to come forward about sexual misconduct is highly personal, and survivors need to make that decision for themselves. However, we are hopeful that recent events will contribute to a climate in which survivors feel safe and empowered sharing their stories and pursuing justice against their abusers.

If you have experienced assault, abuse or harassment, consider getting in touch with an attorney. Lawyers are bound to confidentiality, and many offer free consultations so you can learn about your legal rights and options.