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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


More Blog Posts:
GM Crisis: Victim Compensation Numbers Expected To Rise, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, November 17, 2014

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


More Blog Posts:

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

Hyde Park Contractor Subjects Employees to Electrocution Hazards: Faces $70,000 in Fines, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, July 28, 2014

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" »

June 18, 2014

Bill Would Give Massachusetts Childhood Sex Abuse Victims 32 More Years to Sue

The Massachusetts House has passed a measure that would extend the statute of limitations for when a victim of child sex abuse can file a civil lawsuit in the state. Currently, victims have until age 21 to file an actions against their alleged assailants or the institutions that should have prevented/stopped the abuse. This bill gives victims until they turn 53 to sue for damages.

The proposed measure would also increase how much time a victim has after recovering repressed memories of Massachusetts childhood sex abuse to file a case. Currently, abuse victims have three years from when they remember. The bill extends that time period to seven years. The legislation now heads to the state senate.

Child sex abuse can lead to lasting scars. Often, children are too scared and confused to understand or even report what has happened to them. It may be years before they remember or want to speak out.

Unfortunately, not only do incidents of child sex abuse continue to happen, but often the assailants are people the victims know. Family members, family friends, teachers, counselors, coaches, priests and other adults who given access and authority over them because of their “trusted” positions have been known to abuse this privilege.

If you were the victim of child sex abuse, you still may have grounds to pursue a Boston child sex abuse lawsuit even if the incident happened years ago. Depending on what happened, you could have a case not only against your assailant but also against any institution that failed to protect you. This is the reason schools and churches and other institutions are named as defendants.

In other Massachusetts child sex abuse news, the Walpole Times is reporting that the Home for Little Wanderers, a residence for at-risk youth, continues to either wait too long to report serious campus crimes (including incidents of sexual abuse) or not report the incidents at all. By law, the residence’s employees are supposed to notify the authorities about any child sex abuse incidents right away. The home, however, disputes the way the paper and local polices have been reporting and “labeling” what allegedly transpired there.

If you think that you or your child could have grounds for a civil sex abuse case, please contact our Boston personal injury lawyers today. Altman & Altman, LLP represents children and adult survivors.

Bill Would Grant More Time for Sex Abuse Lawsuits, Boston.com, June 18, 2014

Walpole police: Rape in Longview Farm dorm went unreported, Wicked Local, May 21, 2014

Home For Little Wanderers Disputes Walpole Police Over Alleged Sex Assault
, CBS Boston, May 21, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Former Student Files Massachusetts Sex Abuse Case, Says Teacher Gave Him Pain Pills For Favors, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, May 7, 2014

Clergy Sex Abuse: Pope Benedict Defrocked Almost 400 Priests in Two Years, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, January 18, 2014

Research Shows Link Between Heartburn Medication and Bone Breaks, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, June 18, 2014

May 7, 2014

Former Student Files Massachusetts Sex Abuse Case, Says Teacher Gave Him Pain Pills For Favors

A 23-year-old man is suing his former Spanish teacher for Massachusetts sexual abuse. The plaintiff, identified only as “John Doe,” says that Emily Parks, who used to be the principal at Westwood High School, and the school committee failed to protect him from Ashworth’s sexual advances.

According to the Massachusetts personal injury case, Ashworth, who is from Needham, became Doe’s Spanish teacher when he was a sophomore. Because he has a debilitating skin disorder, Doe was a special education student and often used a wheelchair.

He claims that Ashworth “groomed” him for the abuse by paying extra attention to him and giving him a higher grade. She became his study adviser and spent time with him outside class.

When Doe’s mother complained to Parks that Ashworth was texting her son at all hours and showed her the messages, the then-principal reportedly responded that Doe was the one instigating contact and he should stop. The school district’s attorney, however, said that Ashworth was suspended and Parks told the teacher to stop having “excessive contact with students.” Ashworth quit working at the school in 2009.

According to Doe’s Massachusetts sexual abuse lawyer, during the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant, Ashworth gave his client, Valium, Oxycodone, and Atavan to alleviate the pain he experienced because of his condition. In return she requested sexual favors.

In 2011, Doe was arrested because Ashworth accused him of stealing pills and assaulting her. Doe contends that she called the cops because he wouldn’t give in to her sexual demands.

Unfortunately, Massachusetts sex abuse and sexual assault can happen in schools. According to the Associated Press in 2007, over a five-year period there were over 2,500 cases involving educators who were punished for sexual misconduct. In many of these incidents, the victims were students.

If your son or daughter was a victim of rape, molestation, or sexual assault in school or on campus, please contact our Boston sex abuse lawyers today. You may be able to pursue Massachusetts personal injury damages from the assailant, as well as from others who could have but failed to prevent the abuse from happening.

Former student accuses Westwood High teacher of sex abuse, The Herald News, May 6, 2014

Lawsuit alleges Westwood teacher sexually abused special needs student, MyFoxBoston, May 6, 2014

Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools, The Washington Post/AP, October 21, 2007


More Blog Posts:
Clergy Sex Abuse: Pope Benedict Defrocked Almost 400 Priests in Two Years, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, January 18, 2014

Measure Would Give Victims of Massachusetts Sex Abuse Lawsuits Until Age 55 to Sue for Personal Injury, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, May 8, 2013

Officials Believe Clamp is to Blame for Providence, RI Circus Accident, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 5, 2014