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March 22nd, 2024

Maryland Child Victim’s Act Case to Proceed to Court in Precedent Ruling

Maryland Child Victim’s Act Case to Proceed to Court in Precedent Ruling

Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Empowering Individual Sexual Assault Survivor to Have Day in Court

BEL AIR, Md. (March 19, 2024) – In a legal battle questioning the constitutionality of the 2023 Maryland Child Victims Act (CVA), legislation designed to support survivors of childhood sexual abuse, the Honorable Alex M. Allman, ruled today that the case of John Doe vs. Board of Education of Harford County, et al., C-12-CV-23-000767 will proceed to court. This ruling marks a significant victory for the Plaintiff (identified as John Doe) as well as the community of survivors, affirming their right to seek justice against their abusers and the institutions that may have protected them, irrespective of the time elapsed since the abuse occurred.

This decision signals a pivotal turning point for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and paves the way for future cases, ensuring that similar claims are addressed with the gravity and respect they deserve.

Guy D’Andrea of Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan argued on behalf of the plaintiff in a hearing on the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Local counsel was Aaron Blank of Blank Kim Injury Law in Silver Spring, MD.

According to D’Andrea, the decision puts Maryland at the forefront of a national conversation on survivors’ rights, setting a precedent that could influence similar legislative efforts across the country.

“Today marks a significant victory for our client as well as survivors of sexual abuse in Maryland,” said D’Andrea. “This decision underscores the immense relief and validation felt by our client, the victim of childhood sexual abuse in schools where he should have been safe. He has waited a long time a chance for legal recourse and acknowledgment of his suffering.”

The plaintiff was the victim of sexual assault by his teacher, Janice Konski , when he was a fifth-grade student at Deerfield Elementary. Konski sexually abused and assaulted Plaintiff many times over the course of many months. Later, when Plaintiff was an eleventh-grade student at Edgewood High School, he was sexually assaulted more than 15 times by Elwood Dehaven, the school’s custodian. Both schools are operated and overseen by the Defendant, the Board of Education of Hartford County (HCBOE).   

The victim, John Doe, said, “No child signs up to be sexually abused. The defense is victim shaming. The damage is real, and childhood sexual abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I hope the defendants’ cries that this Act is not constitutional fall on deaf ears like my cries about molestation fell on deaf ears for so long. I am grateful to the judge for letting this matter proceed so I may have my day in court.”

D’Andrea said, “This case, given the novel, yet universal issues involved, will have a profound impact on this area of law nationwide.”

The Child Victims Act was intended to make minor victims of abuse whole and, as a matter of public policy, hold institutions sufficiently accountable for not better supervision of staff and protection of children. This ruling allows for such an outcome.  

Survivors of sexual assault are encouraged to contact Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan’s sex crime victims’ hotline at 800-220-7600 to begin the path to healing. Attorney Guy D’Andrea can be contacted by email at gdandrea@laffeybucci.com.