Articles Tagged with Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyer

Massage parlors are places with dark rooms, closed doors, and skin-to-skin contact with virtual strangers. Industry ethics codes and state laws are supposed to protect both clients and employees from predatory behavior, but allegations of Florida sexual abuse during massages or at massage parlors have been prevalent in recent years. In addition to busts for human trafficking and prostitution at some operations, there have been numerous civil lawsuits filed against spa owners.West Palm Beach sexual assault

A few years ago, Buzzfeed reported there were dozens of complaints in Florida, California, and other states stemming from alleged sexual assaults at the Massage Envy chain, which has more than 1,200 locations across the country. As our West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers can explain, journalists uncovered more than 180 individuals who had filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and/or state board complaints against Massage Envy spas, their employees, and the national company. Many of those claims were allegedly mishandled by the chain. In some cases, managers reportedly dismissed claims for lack of merit based on alleged victims’ refusals to return to the site of the alleged assaults to provide a statement.

In 2018, nearly a dozen female customers in Palm Beach County accused Massage Envy of sexual assault at nine separate Florida locations. Most of those cases involved allegations that massage therapists had touched women in their private areas without consent. Plaintiffs alleged that the company failed to protect clients in a vulnerable setting by systematically and intentionally concealing a “rampant problem” of massage therapists accused of sexually assaulting customers. The company allegedly had an internal policy of urging staff to avoid calling police in cases of reported sexual assault – a practice that purportedly protected both the brand and profit of the company, not the safety and well-being of customers who had no reason to suspect they may be in danger. The women alleged they sought treatment for conditions like painful spinal injuries, and instead were sexually assaulted and exploited.

The company denied liability, but said it was partnering with an outside agency to review policies, improve training, and ensure sexual assault allegations were properly reported to local law enforcement. Continue reading

Sexual cyberhassment, more commonly known as revenge porn, is when someone posts or distributes intimate videos, photos, or images of another person online without their consent and with the intention to harass or upset that person. In general, when a person gives consent for a depiction of themselves in a sexually explicit image, the reasonable presumption is that they expect that image is going to remain private – even if they share it with someone else, such as an intimate partner. Violation of that trust is cyber sexual harassment.West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyer

As a crime, sexual cyberharassment in Florida is a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, per F.S. 784.049. Identifying information of the person depicted is a key element in the charge, as is the intent to cause emotional distress.

In addition to seeing justice through criminal charges and penalties, victims are within their rights to pursue monetary damages against the offender. As our Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers can explain, the statute explicitly grants victims of this crime the right to initiate a civil action against the person who broke the law for various remedies, which may include:

  • Injunctive relief. This is an order to prevent, stop, or command certain behaviors.
  • Monetary damages of up to $5,000 or actual damages incurred as a result of violation of the law – whichever is greater. Damages can include things such as medical bills, lost wages or employment, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
  • Reasonable attorney fees and costs.

There may be additional avenues  in civil court to pursue for compensation in a case of sexual cyberharassment, but it will depend on the exact facts of the case and whether other entities had any degree of control over the offender. In particular, we’d be interested in analyzing whether the incidents occurred to any extent in the course and scope of employment. If an employer ignored a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace, there could be liability. Businesses have a responsibility to hold employees accountable for sexual harassment once it’s been reported. Schools, too, may be liable if they were made aware of a problem and failed to address it. Continue reading

It’s one of the largest child sexual abuse scandals in U.S. history, yet for years, victims were made to feel as if they were the only one. As the deadline looms for filing civil liability claims of sexual assault and abuse against Boy Scouts of America, systemic problems within the youth organization are proving worse than many ever realized. South Florida sexual abuse lawyer

The Scouts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and protection earlier this year, amid a sharp decline in membership as well as a flood of sexual abuse claims. As our civil trial lawyers can explain, bankruptcy places an automatic hold on all pending lawsuits while global settlements are negotiated. The bankruptcy also compels victims to have their case handled in a single federal bankruptcy court rather than in state courts across the country. It also allows the agency to reorganize and restructure its finances while continuing operation. A trust has been established from which victims of abuse who file civil claims will be able to collect compensation.

Claims filed in bankruptcy court, once vetted, will be paid by Scouts organization (which has more than $1 billion in real estate assets) and/or their insurers through the established trust. We saw this same type of bankruptcy restructuring/trust with the mass torts of asbestos liability. Dozens of Catholic dioceses that had been accused of liability for child sexual abuse have also used it.

Some are predicting that tens of thousands of new claimants will meet this month’s deadline in the Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy case. The Los Angeles Times reports there could be more claims filed in this bankruptcy than in all the previous Catholic Church bankruptcies combined.

Our South Florida sexual abuse attorneys recognize this overwhelming response underscores that the problem of abuse in youth organizations is one that demands greater attention and accountability.

Victims of abuse suffer years with guilt and shame. Some have contracted sexually-transmitted diseases. Many who are now older have wrestled with addiction, alcoholism, anger and difficulty maintaining close relationships. Some victim family members allege the pain was so great, the victims took their own lives. Continue reading

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