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May 2nd, 2015

My daughter was sexually assaulted at a school in Pennsylvania. What are her legal rights?

Sexual violence is a serious problem in this country, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Over the past few years, there have been multiple, high profile cases of both student-on-student assault and teacher-on-student assault just in Pennsylvania alone.

Students’ Legal Rights for School-Related Assaults & Abuse in Pennsylvania

Your daughter has legal rights in both the criminal and civil justice systems. This is something that many individuals don’t know. If you are the victim of sexual abuse or assault, you can file both a criminal case and a civil lawsuit.

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In addition, there is no requirement that you succeed in one before filing the other. Therefore, it’s certainly possible to file, but then lose, a criminal case and still succeed with a civil lawsuit. This often occurs because the standard of proof in criminal cases is much higher than in civil cases. Insufficient evidence is the most common reason a criminal case fails. However, the same evidence may result in a successful civil lawsuit.

Criminal Legal Rights in PA

Victims of crime in Pennsylvania are afforded certain rights as they proceed through the criminal justice system. This Bill of Rights affords certain rights, such as the right to be present at the defendant’s sentencing and make a statement. In addition, crime victims have the right to make claims for compensation through Pennsylvania’s Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP) which is operated by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. However, it is important to note that VCAP claims are largely limited to funding for medical care and related expenses. Therefore, in a school sexual assault case, the victim may make a VCAP claim for medical bills. VCAP does not cover pain and suffering.

Civil Legal Rights in PA

Pennsylvania law clearly recognizes crime victims’ rights to file civil lawsuits against both direct perpetrators (criminal actor) and indirect perpetrators. Indirect perpetrators are individuals who knowingly or negligently allow criminal conduct to occur. Schools and youth organizations are commonly held liable for allowing a student to be sexually assaulted or abused on school property or at school functions.

Related Case Result Against a School in Pennsylvania: Six Figure RecoveryStudent sexually harassed and assaulted by high school teacher

About Our School Sexual Assault Law Practice

Founded in 2009, our law firm focuses on crime victim injury cases, such as school sexual assaults. Firm founder Guy D’Andrea is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now represents families against sexual predators and the institutions which harbored them.

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More: Want to File a Sex Abuse-Assault Lawsuit in Pennsylvania? What You Need to Know

DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.