Articles Posted in Sexual Assault

Retired Massachusetts pediatrician, Dr. Richard Kauff, faces accusations from a growing number of women who allege that he sexually assaulted and raped them when they were children. The initial accusations surfaced when a woman sought clarification through a social media discussion group about routine checkup procedures, asking if it was normal for a doctor to insert fingers into a patient’s vagina during a routine checkup.

When the response to her social media post indicated that her experience was in no way normal, Kauff’s victim sought therapy, during which she shared her discomfort about these childhood visits to her doctor. The therapist immediately stopped the session and advised her to contact the police, leading to the exposure of a deeply disturbing pattern.

The initial police investigation uncovered shocking similarities in the stories of two unrelated women who had both experienced alleged abuse by Dr. Kauff. One victim claimed the assaults occurred between 1990 and 2002, starting when she was approximately 7 years old, while the other reported abuse from 1998 to 2008, beginning at around 8 years old. Both victims asserted that Kauff, despite the presence of their parents, instructed them to count to three before performing intrusive actions, using disturbing language to normalize the horrific behavior.

Ride-sharing services have revolutionized transportation, offering convenience and accessibility. However, Uber and other ride-sharing companies have been sued countless times in recent years by passengers alleging sexual assault. In fact, data from Uber’s 2020 safety report showed a total of 9,805 sexual assault reports between 2017 and 2020. Even more disturbing, 852 of those incident included reports of rape.

Incidents of sexual assault or harassment during Uber rides, which involved everything from groping and kidnapping to rape, are deeply concerning. It’s important for individuals to understand their rights and options in such distressing situations.

What Constitutes Sexual Assault?

The Diocese of Syracuse has agreed to pay $100 million to compensate parishioners abused by priests, employees, and volunteers in the diocese. According to NBC News, it appears to be the largest payout by a U.S. Roman Catholic diocese since at least 2018, when the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis settled with over 400 victims for $210 million.

Catholic entities across New York faced a surge of claims when the state temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on child sex abuse in 2019. After being hit with more than 100 lawsuits, the Diocese of Syracuse filed for bankruptcy in 2020. The proposed settlement — which is a part of bankruptcy proceedings and still requires court approval — would resolve 411 sex abuse claims brought by 387 people.

Clergy Sex Abuse Settlements Nationwide

In yet another scandal facing the Catholic Church, Tennesee Bishop Richard Stika resigned in June after allegations that he mishandled sex abuse claims in his Knoxville diocese. Several priests also complained about his behavior and leadership, triggering a Vatican investigation. Although he denies wrongdoing, Stika is now facing at least two lawsuits claiming that he improperly dealt with sexual misconduct allegations and sought to silence the accusers.

In one lawsuit, a Honduran immigrant seeking grief counseling in 2020 said a priest locked her in a room and sexually assaulted her. Although the police and the diocese knew of the accusation, the lawsuit argues, the diocese took no action against the priest and, in fact, obstructed law enforcement. The woman also claimed that the diocese tried to intimidate her by spreading rumors about her and hiring a private investigator to find information to use against her.

In a second lawsuit, a former employee at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Knoxville accused a seminary student of harassing and raping him in 2019. The lawsuit argues that Bishop Stika pressured the accuser to remain silent, concealed the abuse, and even dismissed an investigator who was looking into the case. Before Stika’s resignation in 2023, he had been the bishop of Knoxville for 14 years.

Over 450 Catholic clergy members abused nearly 2,000 children in Illinois since 1950, according to a report released by the state attorney general last month. Before the start of the investigation, the church had publicly acknowledged only around 100 individual abusers. The report comes at a time when increasing numbers of Catholic priests across the nation are being accused of sexual abuse.

Hundreds of Priests Abused Thousands of Children

After a Pennsylvania grand jury found that over 300 Catholic clerics had abused over 1,000 children during a 70-year period, Illinois began its own state investigation into clergy sexual assaults starting in 2018. The nearly 700-page report released in May found evidence that 451 Catholic clergy members abused at least 1,997 children across Illinois between 1950 and 2019.

When defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged in 2021 with molesting a teenage boy in Massachusetts in 1974, he became the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the country to face criminal sex abuse charges. In April of 2023, he was charged again. This time, he faces accusations in Wisconsin of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in 1977. In addition to the criminal charges against him, McCarrick has been named in numerous civil suits alleging sexual misconduct.

The new accusations come as numerous states around the country are updating their sexual assault laws. Since 2018, more than a dozen states have made changes making it easier for sexual assault victims to seek justice. Some states suspended the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse altogether, some raised the age limit to make claims, and others created temporary “lookback windows” allowing survivors to sue their abusers no matter how many years ago the abuse happened.

McCarrick Accused of Dozens of Alleged Sex Assaults

A customer has filed suit against Massage Envy, its managers, and a therapist for a sexual assault she says occurred during a massage at the chain’s Medford location. According to the Boston Globe, the woman reported the assault to the manager on March 3, 2021, but the manager took no action. Two days later, the same therapist allegedly raped another customer.

The lawsuit argues that the company was negligent in hiring and supervising its therapists and violated consumer protection laws by claiming that its spas are safe. In addition, the woman has sued massage therapist Gilberto DaSilva for assault and battery. DaSilva was not criminally prosecuted in this case because law enforcement was already pursuing rape charges on behalf of the second woman, according to the report.

Medford Massage Envy Therapist

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) released the results of a major independent investigation in May 2022 indicating that church leaders ignored and covered up claims of sexual abuse for decades. The largest protestant denomination in America, the SBC is a loosely connected group of over 47,000 individual churches with more than 14 million members. The revelations suggested a pattern of inaction by high-ranking staff and prompted comparisons with the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

Accusations of Sexual Abuse in Southern Baptist Churches

 In 2019, the Houston Chronicle helped break the news about sexual abuse in SBC churches. The story indicated that not only did the Southern Baptist Convention routinely mishandle reports of sex abuse, but also that hundreds of church leaders and volunteers had been criminally charged with sex crimes. Reporters found nearly 700 alleged victims—mostly children—who were sexually abused in a 20-year span. This bombshell news prompted the SBC to request a third-party inquiry into the sex abuse claims.

While rideshare apps provide quick and easy ways for people to get from place to place in and around Boston, there are unfortunately several risks and dangers that can arise for people when using these services. With the rise in popularity of rideshare apps Lyft and Uber, the number of sexual assaults reported by passengers in Massachusetts continues to rise. If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted while using Lyft, Uber or another rideshare service, consider hiring an experienced, compassionate Altman & Altman attorney to provide you with the empathetic, quality representation that you deserve.

Uber and Lyft Lawsuits

There have been several high profile lawsuits filed against both Lyft and Uber in recent years alleging that each company failed to put reasonable safety measures in place to protect patrons. In 2019, a group of more than 30 women sued Lyft for this reason. The same year, Uber released a safety report revealing that more than 6,000 incidents of sexual assault had been reported in 2017 and 2018. In cases like these, the courts have tried to determine whether the companies could have done more to prevent the attacks to determine if they are partially at fault for the attacks.  More extensive safety measures that the companies may have taken may include a more thorough background check. A more thorough background check  may reveal  prior sexual assault convictions for someone applying to work for the service. This information could be used to help prevent or ban a driver with a previous violent conviction from mistakenly being approved to be a driver for the rideshare app.

What Measures Are These Services Taking To Increase Safety?

In response to public outcry about these attacks, both Uber and Lyft have committed to increasing and improving their existing safety standards. Some examples of these increased safety standards to combat the risk of sexual assault include:

  • In-app emergency assistance
  • Continuous background monitoring on drivers – which resulted in the removal of over 20,000 Uber drivers within just a year of implementing the practice
  • Mandatory feedback for rides that had less than a 4 star rating
  • Enhanced background checks

Even with these additional safety measures, people continue to report incidents of assault while using the services of both of these companies. Continue reading

Many people would be shocked to discover the rate at which sexual assault occurs within nursing homes. There have been over 16,000 complaints of sexual assault at long-term care facilities since 2000. When we put our family members and loved ones in a Massachusetts nursing home, it is often because we believe they deserve a level of care and attention that we are unable to give them. Not only do we expect the professionals we trust with our loved ones to treat them with the care they deserve, we absolutely do not anticipate that they will be the victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault within nursing homes in not limited to staff either; it may also be propagated by other residents or visitors. The nursing home has a duty to protect your loved ones against sexual abuse, and our Boston nursing home lawyers will hold them liable if they did not take adequate measures to prevent against the abuse.

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home sexual assault, you may be entitled to compensation. If you can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that your loved one was sexually abused while at a long-term care facility, you will be awarded damages. Importantly, this standard of proof is lower than that in a criminal trial, which opens up options for people who may not have sufficient proof to initiate criminal proceedings against an abuser. No matter who the abuser is, the nursing home may have to provide compensation. Our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys can help you uncover any relevant facts that will help your case.

There are any number of ways a nursing home may act negligently in protecting their residents from sexual assault. Here are a few examples in which nursing homes fall short:

  • Negligence in hiring staff. Nursing homes need to screen all applicants and check their criminal records to ensure they will not pose a risk to patients. Previous allegations of abuse or sexual assault ought to be taken seriously and be thoroughly investigated.
  • Negligence in investigating sexual assault complaints. If a nursing home has reason to know of a staff member sexually assaulting residents, they must adequately investigate the allegations and take steps to prevent the assault from happening again.
  • Negligence in protecting residents generally. If the nursing home is found to have fostered a culture that allows for this abuse, this almost certainly will give rise to a finding of negligence on their behalf.

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