Cases of child molestation are always disturbing, but when the victim is a special needs student and the perpetrator is a teacher at that student’s middle school, reaction from the public can be extreme. In this particular situation, a special education teacher at Sam Brannan Middle School (in the Sacramento City Unified School District) has settled with the alleged victim, then a minor teen and now 19-years of age, for sexual abuse that is meant to have occurred over the span of the years 2009-2010. The young boy claims that the molestation occurred both on school grounds and at the special education teacher’s own home. The accused pleaded no contest to 3 felony counts of the sexual abuse of a child and to 1 misdemeanor count of the same. He is currently serving out a 14-year sentence and will be required, after the decision made in this civil case, to pay $1.2 million in restitution.
This particular instance should serve to remind that, criminal charges and penalties of child molestation (CA Penal Code 288) are not the only consequences for being convicted, there is always the possibility that either the alleged victim themselves or their family members could bring a civil law suit against you as well. There are many different ways in which this could occur; all another person’s attorney would need is what is often called a ‘cause of action.’
When criminal charges are brought against someone like the teacher above, all that the criminal justice system can do is to fine that individual, incarcerate them, or both. What the criminal justice system does not provide for in a criminal trial is compensation to the victim or the family of the victim. Once the trial is over and the perpetrator has been convicted, however, it is likely that a civil suit will also be brought against them. In cases of child molestation, there is no cause of action that is entitled “sexual abuse of children.” However, causes of action in such a case could include negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or even assault or battery. Actual monetary damages, on the other hand, cannot be determined until a judge, jury, or both has heard the case.