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December 16, 2014

Judge Says Billerica Man Can Proceed with Boston Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Harvard University

A judge says that Stephen Embry can go ahead with his lawsuit against Harvard University. The 57-year-old Billerica man’s Boston child sex abuse case was dismissed over a year ago, before a new Massachusetts bill extending the statute of limitations for such cases was passed into law.

According to Embry, when he was 12, swimming coach Benn Merritt raped and molested him. The sexual assaults allegedly occurred over 100 times and went on for three years. Embry says the incidents usually took place at the Harvard pool where Merritt was a coach.

He contends that Harvard misled him about how long he had to file a Boston sexual abuse claim, telling him the assaults occurred too long ago. Embry says that the school did not disclose that another claim was brought against it in 1996 involving Merritt. The plaintiff in that case contended that the swim teacher molested him from 1965 to 1970, beginning when he was 11. Merritt killed himself not long after that case was filed. The lawsuit with him was settled. The one against Harvard was dismissed.

Embry claims that he began to recall memories of the Boston sex abuse incidents six years ago. He said that he became depressed and tried to kill himself.

When he initially filed the Massachusetts sex abuse case, the statute of limitations for suing an institutions or organization that an alleged perpetrator worked or volunteered for, if repressed memories were involved, was three years from the time of recall. In 2012, four years had passed since Embry began remembering the abuse.

Now, the statute of limitations involving repressed memories for suing institutions is seven years and can be applied retroactively. Also, in incidents of Massachusetts child sex abuse occurring after the passing of the statute, victims have until age 53 to sue both perpetrators and institutions.

Having a lengthier statute is important when Massachusetts child sex abuse is involved. Often, children will repress these memories for years. Or, they may have been too scared and young to know what to do and it could take a very long time before they are able to even disclose what happened.

It isn’t just children who may need a lot of time before they are able to report or even deal with sex abuse and assault. In recent weeks, more than twenty women have come forward accusing actor Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them years ago. Most of the incidents allegedly occurred in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The alleged victims have said they did not speak out sooner out of fear that no one would believe them or that there could be other repercussions. Cosby has denied the allegations.

In Massachusetts, if you suspect that you were the victim of Boston sexual abuse, please contact Altman & Altman, LLP today.

Massachusetts Law about Statutes of Limitations in Civil Sexual Abuse Cases, Mass.gov

Judge lets abuse case against former Harvard swim coach proceed, Boston.com, December 12, 2014

Colleges cut ties with Bill Cosby as the list of women accusing him of sexual assault hits 20, The Washington Post, December 1, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Ex- Fessenden School Students to File Newton, MA Child Sex Abuse Case, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, December 10, 2014

Dedham, MA Pedestrian Accident Leads to Criminal Charges for Newton College Student,
Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, December 9, 2014

Fall River Construction Worker Dies While Working On Natural Gas Lines in Road Project, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, December 12, 2014

December 10, 2014

Ex- Fessenden School Students to File Newton, MA Child Sex Abuse Case

A number of ex-students of Fessenden School reportedly intend to file a Massachusetts child sex abuse case against several teacher and their supervisors. The Newton sex abuse incidents allegedly occurred at the all boys boarding school between 1968 and 1976 and involved male victims who were ages 10 to 14 at the time.

It was in 2011 that David B. Stettler, the headmaster of school, sent a letter to faculty, alumni, and parents disclosing that over the past few years, there had been two legal complaints accusing assistant headmaster Arthur Clarridge and his friend of child sex abuse. The plaintiffs said they were ages 10 and 13 respectively when they were sexually violated. One of them settled his case with the school.

In a recent internal probe, the school found out about at least two other alumni who had submitted Massachusetts child sexual abuse complaints involving allegations that would have occurred in the ‘70s and 60’s. Other students also made claims that were never officially reported.

The Boston Globe reports that one ex-student, John Sweeney, now 56, said that Clarridge drugged and then sexually assaulted him when he was a boy. However, he cannot file a Massachusetts injury case over the abuse because too much time has passed. His claim now exceeds the state's statute of limitations for submitting such a lawsuit.

Sweeney said that the headmaster headmaster discounted his account when he reported the incident with Clarridge. The former student maintains that because of the Newton child sex abuse he endured, he later suffered from PTSD and a drug problem.

Fessenden is the oldest all-boys, junior boarding school in the United States. Students from pre-Kindergarten through the ninth grade attend the private institution.

If you or your child were a victim of Massachusetts child sexual abuse please contact our Boston personal injury lawyers today. Unfortunately, sexual abuse and assault can happen in schools. The perpetrator may even be a trusted adult, such as a teacher, counselor, administrator, or coach. Schools can be held liable for failing to prevent or stop the abuse from happening.

Allegations of child sexual abuse have plagued a number of U.S. private schools in recent years. Last year, an ex-student filed a North Andover child abuse case against Brooks School. He claimed that when he was 15, former Admission Director Lois Poirot had sex with him during the 1970s’a and that school officials were aware of the affair.

Lawrence W. Becker, a former Brooks School headmaster, also has been accused of improper relations with a student. He reportedly was not disciplined even though the school board's president notified legal counsel about the allegations.

It was just this year that Massachusetts passed a bill extending the statute of limitations for how long victims have to file a sex abuse case against their abusers. Now, victims have until age 53 to sue. This means if even the incident happened years ago, you still may be able to pursue damages.

New Allegations of Decades-Old Sexual Abuse Emerge at Newton Private School, Boston.com, December 9, 2014

Massachusetts Law about Statutes of Limitations in Civil Sexual Abuse Cases, Mass.gov


More Blog Posts:

$139M School District’s Sex Abuse Settlement, UVA’s Suspension of Fraternities Over Gang Rape Allegations Shine Yet Another Spotlight on Sexual Violence in Schools, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, November 24, 2014

Consolidation of Xarelto Injury Lawsuits Gets Opposition from Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Massachusetts Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, December 5, 2014

Worker Killed in Peabody, MA Industrial Accident, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, December 4, 2011

November 24, 2014

$139M School District’s Sex Abuse Settlement, UVA’s Suspension of Fraternities Over Gang Rape Allegations Shine Yet Another Spotlight on Sexual Violence in Schools

A school district in California has agreed to pay $139 million to resolve the remaining sex abuse lawsuits involving an elementary school teacher. Mark Berndt, a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, was convicted of numerous counts of lewd conduct.
Some 82 students are involved in the settlement, which was arrived at during jury selection of the trial.

According to plaintiffs, Berndt blindfolded the kids and fed them his sperm on cookies. If the child sex abuse trial had gone through, the alleged victims' lawyers had intended to show evidence suggesting that the district knew of sexual misconduct allegations involving Berndt three decades ago but did not nothing until a pharmacy photo processor notified the authorities that there was film showing the kids blindfolded while eating an unknown substance.

Aside from the$139 million settlement, the school district had previously agreed to pay $30 million to resolve 65 other sex abuse cases involving Berndt.

Meantime, sexual assault allegations have prompted the University of Virginia to suspended all fraternities and associated parties through January 9. The move comes after an article in Rolling Stone magazine described one student’s experience of being gang raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi house in 2012. The alleged victim said the incident lasted three hours. She says that she notified the school's Sexual Misconduct Board about what happened.

However, according to Rolling Stone, the university didn’t decide to investigate the fraternity until its administrators found out that the magazine was working on an article about the incident. University of Virginia president Teresa A. Sullivan reportedly asked police to investigate the alleged rape just several days ago.

Unfortunately, sexual crimes happen in elementary schools, high schools, and on college campuses. It is the job of the school, the district, and administrators to protect students and prevent sexual abuse and rape from happening. When a student becomes a victim of molestation or sexual assault while under the school’s watch, he or she may have legal grounds for pursuing a Boston sex abuse injury lawsuit against the abuser, as well as the party (or parties) that should have prevented the crime from happening.

California: School District to Pay Settlement in Sex Abuse Case, New York Times/AP, November 21, 2014

UVA suspends fraternities after report on gang rape allegation, CNN, November 24, 2014

President Obama Launches the "It's On Us" Campaign to End Sexual Assault on Campus, The White House, September 19, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Spine Doctor Accused of Massachusetts Sexual Assault, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, November 19, 2014

Hundreds of Risperdal Lawsuits Blame Drug For Causing Gynecomastia in Males, Massachusetts Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, November 19, 2014

46.3 Million to Hit Roads Thanksgiving Weekend: Tips You Need to Know to Protect Your Family, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, November 21, 2014

November 19, 2014

Spine Doctor Accused of Massachusetts Sexual Assault

A grand jury in Worcester County has indicted Dr. Ho Yin "Aaron" Shiu on one count of rape and multiple counts of indecent assault and battery. Shiu is a spine doctor. The indictments revolve around allegations involving two women.

One of the alleged victims, a 42-year-old woman, said that Shiu sexually violated her at Mass Memorial Medical Center during an appointment in 2013. The other woman, also a patient, claims that he assaulted her at AdCare hospital.

Last month, Shiu went into a voluntary, non-disciplinary agreement with Massachusetts’s Board of Registration Medicine not to practice in the state. By agreeing not to practice, Shiu is not admitting to wrongdoing.

Sexual Assault as Massachusetts Medical Malpractice
Sexual assault is a crime. It can also be grounds for a Boston personal injury case against the assailant and others that could/should have prevented the sex crime from happening. In a case where a physician is accused of rape or sexual assault, the alleged victim may choose to pursue damages not only against the doctor but also against the hospital or other medical facility where the crime happened.

Doctors and other medical professionals have a unique relationship with patients in that they gain access to them in ways that few others are allowed. When a medical professional abuses that privilege with unwanted, inappropriate, sexual, or violent advances, such actions violate that trust and can cause serious physical, psychological, and emotional harm.

Unfortunately, sex crimes involving medical professionals as the assailants do happen. Many incidents go unreported, covered up, or occur covertly under the guise of the physician performing a “more thorough exam.”

In Massachusetts, you may be able to file a Boston medical malpractice case over your sex assault injuries. If you’ve been the victim of sexual misconduct by a doctor, nurse, psychologist, gynecologist, dentist, or another professional, contact Altman & Altman, LLP today.

UMass doctor indicted on sex assault charges
, NewsTelegram, November 19, 2014


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Stryker Settles Hip Implant Lawsuits for $1.43 Billion, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, November 7, 2014

Slip and Fall Accidents Can Cause Injuries on the Job, Lead to Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Claims, Massachusetts workers Compensation Lawyer Blog, November 18, 2014

November 5, 2014

Ex-Catholic Priest Settles Boston Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit With Former Student

Sean Leo Rooney, an ex-Roman Catholic priest, has settled a Boston sexual abuse lawsuit filed by a man who claims that the defendant molested him when he was a 14-year old student. According to the plaintiff, now 48, Rooney masturbated and fondled him on a bus during a school trip to Massachusetts and also while at the Salesian Junior Seminary in New York where he was studying. The former priest was on the faculty there at the time.

In his Massachusetts sex abuse case, the plaintiff said that he didn’t realize until years later that it was Rooney’s behavior that had caused him such harm. He says that he continues to suffer from emotional trauma, depression, panic attacks, sleeping difficulties, and problems with alcohol because of the explicit abuse committed by the defendant.

Rooney was a priest for 50 years before he was defrocked six years ago. Aside from the civil case, Rooney could also be subject to criminal charges in Massachusetts. Last week, BishopAccountability.org, a watchdog group, added Rooney’s name, and the names of three other people, to its public database of religious leaders accused of sex abuse.

The plaintiff also settled the Massachusetts sex abuse case with Salesian Society in New York. He says two other priests abused him too.

In Massachusetts, please contact our Boston sexual abuse lawyers if you or someone you love was the victim of Massachusetts clergy abuse. Even if the incident happened years ago, you still may be able to recover compensation.

This past summer, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a new bill into law extending the statute of limitations for how long sex abuse victims have to sue their abusers. The law now allows child sex abuse victims as old as 53 to file civil charges against an alleged abuser. Previously, victims of Massachusetts child sex abuse could only sue until age 21.

Bill extends time limit on sexual abuse lawsuits, Boston Globe, June 20, 2014

Read the Massachusetts Sexual Abuse Lawsuit (PDF)

Watchdog group adds four names to clergy sex abuse list, Associated Press/Portland Press Herald, November 1, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Brandeis University Faces Scrutiny by Federal Investigators for Sex Abuse Cases, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, September 11, 2014

Massachusetts Clergy Sexual Abuse: Defrocked Priest Paul Shanley Challenges Conviction for Indecent Assault & Battery and Child Rape, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, September 10, 2009

Man Injured When Cement Beam Falls off Truck, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, October 28, 2014

October 29, 2014

MIT Survey Reveals Prevalence of Sexual Assault on Campuses

MIT has attempted to put a precise estimate on the prevalence of sexual violence on its campus in a comprehensive survey taken anonymously by its students.

According to results, which were published on Monday, about one in six female undergraduates at MIT who responded reported being sexually assaulted at least one time while enrolled at the university. 5 percent of those respondents said they reported the crime, according to results released Monday by the school. The Boston Globe reported that 3,800 students responded to the survey out of 10,800 who were invited to participate.

According to The Boston Globe, “MIT became the highest-profile college to put such a specific estimate on the prevalence of sexual violence on campus, amid heightened national attention on the issue. Many schools have been hesitant to conduct such surveys, but advocates have urged colleges to do so because victims are more likely to reveal that they were assaulted if they can remain anonymous. Undergraduates, in particular, are viewed as most at risk.”

MIT university president L. Rafael Reif said in a mass email sent to students and faculty of the school, that he was “disturbed by the extent and nature of the problem’’ reflected in the survey results.

“Sexual assault violates our core MIT values,” Reif wrote. “I am confident that, with this shared understanding and armed with this new data, the MIT community will find a path to significant positive change.”

Continue reading "MIT Survey Reveals Prevalence of Sexual Assault on Campuses" »

October 22, 2014

Two Young Women Sue Website in Boston for Sex Trafficking

Two young women are suing Backpage.com after they became the victims of sex trafficking. Their Massachusetts lawsuit, filed in Boston is accusing the company of setting up a business model that enabled child sex trafficking in the U.S. The plaintiffs’ lawyers describe Backpage.com as a website that carries advertisements for illegal commercial sex.

One of the plaintiffs says that sold for over 1,000 times in 18 months when she was 15 and 16 in ’12 and ’13. The other girl says she was trafficked as a teen between ’12 and ’13. The two girls were purportedly trafficked in separate “stables” of girls who were moved to different cities, including Boston, other Massachusetts cities, and Rhode Island.

The plaintiffs claim that Backpage.com and parent company Camarillo Holdings LLC violated the Massachusetts Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2010 and the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act of 2008. They also are accusing the defendants of succeeding in purposely becoming a lead player in the online sex trade and making misrepresentations to non-profits and law enforcement to make it appear as if the website was trying to get rid of the child sex traffic ads when that wasn’t the case.

The Boston injury lawsuit is not the only litigation seeking damages from Backpage.com for child sex trafficking. The Washington Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case filed by three plaintiffs. The three young women’s’ lawyers said the victims were sold as prostitutes in ads on the web site. The plaintiffs claim they were raped on numerous occasions after pimps forced them to sell themselves for sex.

Backpage.com is arguing that both lawsuits are attempts at censorship. It claims that the Communications Decency Act grants it immunity. An attorney for the company noted that it was not Backpage.com that created the sex crime ads.

If you or someone you love was injured in a sex crime you should speak with an experienced Boston injury lawyer right away. Sex trafficking is illegal and a crime. Often, young minors are forced into prostituting themselves.

There may be more than one party that should be held liable for your injuries. In addition to the person that directly caused you harm, there may be individual or entities that allowed you to get hurt rather than protecting you by preventing or stopping the incident.

Alleged child sex trafficking victims suing Backpage.com, Boston.com, October 17, 2014

Backpage.com ask high court to throw out lawsuit, The Washington Post, October 21, 2014

CPSC Votes to Make Mandatory Standards for Window Covering Cords, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, October 11, 2014

MA Electrical Company Cited By U.S. Department of Labor After Deaths of 2 Workers, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, September 28, 2014

Brookline Police Gauge Interest in New Bicycle Law, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, October 3, 2014

September 11, 2014

Brandeis University Faces Scrutiny by Federal Investigators for Sex Abuse Cases

Brandeis University in Waltham is the latest college to come under scrutiny by the United States Education Department for the handling of sexual assault complaints involving its students. The university is the 10th school in Massachusetts and one of more than 75 in the country to be investigated by the U.S. Dept. of Education according to WCVB.

According to reports (initially published by The Boston Globe), the investigation is centered on a student's allegation that the school wrongly and unfairly found him responsible for sexual misconduct this past spring and subsequently disciplined him.

While Brandeis spokesman Bill Schaller did not comment directly about that particular investigation, he acknowledged that the school had already taken initiatives to prevent and respond to sexual assault complaints, including opening a rape crisis center, hiring a psychological counselor who specializes in trauma and sexual violence, and relocating its office of sexual assault services and prevention to a more central location on campus. According to WCVB, the university conducted bystander-intervention training for students and created an informational website and distributed resource guides to students, faculty, and staff to increase awareness of sexual assault services and prevention efforts.

This past May the Department of Education began an investigation of 55 campuses for complaints that they possibly violated rules governing the handling of sexual violence and harassment cases. Included in that list are Amherst College, Boston University, Emerson College, Harvard College, Harvard Law School, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Berklee College of Music, Hampshire College, UMass Dartmouth, and Brandeis University.

Continue reading "Brandeis University Faces Scrutiny by Federal Investigators for Sex Abuse Cases" »

August 15, 2014

Former Student Sues Emerson College in Massachusetts Sexual Assault Case

Jillian Doherty is seeking personal injury compensation from Emerson College. She claims that that the college mishandled her Massachusetts sexual assault case. Doherty wants compensation for the emotional trauma she suffered and her hospital bills and tuition. She dropped out of the school earlier this year.

Doherty says she was raped in April 2012 after having consensual sex with a male student after she refused to have anal sex with him. She contends that he forcibly penetrated her. The two of them were intoxicated at the time.

Doherty claims that she waited to report the incident nearly a year later because Emerson did a poor job of informing students about sexual assault and the resources that were available. When the accused provided new evidence and a character letter from someone who wasn’t even involved in the matter at the hearing, Doherty says she was not given a chance to respond. The male undergraduate was cleared in the case. However, following an appeal, the school found him responsible and he was expelled.

In her Springfield, MA injury case, Doherty says that Emerson violated its own policies. She claims that the assault and the way the Emerson handled the case caused her grades to drop. Doherty developed post-traumatic stress and chronic depression. Her request for academic accommodation was refused. Doherty sought hospital treatment and later withdrew from school.

Emerson is one of several Massachusetts colleges and universities that the US Department of Education is looking at for the way they handle sex assault cases. The college is also facing a Title IX probe. Doherty and several students also submitted a complaint to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

If you have been the victim of a Boston sexual assault crime on campus, do not hesitate to contact Altman & Altman, LLP today. You may have reason to pursue a civil case against your assailant and other parties.

Unfortunately, Massachusetts campus crimes happen on a regular basis. It is the responsibility of schools to create an atmosphere that discourages incidents of sexual and physical violence, as well as protect its students.

Ex-student says Emerson mishandled rape investigation, BostonGlobe, August 14, 2014

Title IX


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Back-to-School: Drugs and Alcohol, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, August 13, 2014

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More Zoloft Drug Injury Lawsuits, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, August 12, 2014

August 7, 2014

Teenage girl raped at Keith Urban concert

Two Saturdays ago at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, amidst a roaring crowd, the permeating smell of alcohol, the blazing lights and the blasting sounds of country music singer Keith Urban, a 17-year-old girl endured a painful traumatic event: rape. According to police reports, the event took place in the front lawn of the venue, in plain view of onlookers, most of who just watched. Some even filmed the rape on their phones.

According to a Mansfield Police statement, officers were not aware of the situation until a witness approached them. She had asked the victim, who was lying on the ground, whether the act was consensual. The girl allegedly told the witness it wasn’t. The girl then broke free of the attacker, and fled into the crowd. Sean Murphy, 18, of West Roxbury was arrested and charged with sexual assault, and released two days later on bail. He has pleaded not guilty.

Also at this concert, 22 people ended up hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, 50 underage drinkers were taken into protective custody, and many more were treated for injuries and arrested for public intoxication.

Though large public events that permit alcohol consumption are not unheard of, especially during the summer months, rape is inexcusable. What could have been done to prevent the assault? To start with, the security measures for large events need to be re-evaluated. Where were the officers and security team to bring order into large, drinking crowds? At the July 26th concert, an estimated 18,000 attendees filled the Xfinity Center on that night alone. If the Xfnity Center can hold such a sizable crowd, it should also have an equally sizable and efficient security measures than the ones currently in place. Yet the police department in Mansfield had trouble responding to the demands of the large crowd, at the cost of preventing rape.

"We were very busy with a lot of things going on not the least of which was taking care of the (rape) victim," Police Chief Ronald Sellon said to the Boston Herald.

Continue reading "Teenage girl raped at Keith Urban concert" »