School District Pays $3.9 Million in Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
Lawsuit Won for Failing to Stop Abusive Paraeducator
The Tahoma School District recently paid a sexual abuse survivor $3.9 million to resolve a child sexual abuse lawsuit. The School District negligently continued to employ Bryan Neyers, a former para-teacher, after receiving allegations that he was sexually abusing and grooming students.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a student in January 2022 in King County Superior Court. The sexual abuse lawsuit alleges that the student was sexually abused when he was between 5 and 7 years old by a paraeducator. The molestation took place in Tahoma Elementary School’s Early Enrichment Program.
The alleged sexual abuse occurred between 2018 and 2020. The man faces child rape and molestation charges involving three young boys and first-degree rape charges involving a fourth child.
Neyers began working at Tahoma Elementary School in 2015. Within a year, the Maple Valley school district started receiving reports about Neyers’s concerning behavior, such as a lack of boundaries with students.
School officials did not meet with Neyers to address his behavior until June 2018. Even with that meeting, they still failed to take proper actions to address the issue, according to court documents.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse in a school or other educational setting, you may have a case under Maryland’s new law. If you are ready to talk, we are here to listen. Call The Yost Legal Group for a free and confidential consultation at 1-800-967-8529.
Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse: Understanding the Grooming Process
When it comes to sexual abuse, understanding the grooming process is crucial. In certain cases, grooming can be an independent intentional tort requiring a child sexual abuse attorney to prove damages.
Grooming serves as a warning sign, providing organizations and caregivers an opportunity to intervene and prevent the abuse from happening. Grooming often comes before the act of physical abuse. The grooming process usually has three stages:
- Isolating: Most children know the importance of not accepting rides from unfamiliar adults. However, when the adults are a coach, teacher, sponsor, or other such person, a child might hesitate to refuse.
The adult may tell children they have special abilities and would benefit from one-on-one coaching or tutoring. Many children do not say no. Furthermore, many organizations allow such behavior, and caregivers do not see the red flag.
- Gaining Trust: Over time, the one-on-one sessions can become more intimate. This intimacy is usually two-way. Groomers share secrets with children or, at least, makeup secrets to further gain trust. The transition could take a few weeks or a few years.
Frequently, the groomer also buys gifts for the targeted child. Inappropriate comments or activities usually begin at this point as well.
- Concealing and Controlling the Relationship: One of the gifts might include a phone or other communication device. Inappropriate comments and activities escalate, usually accompanied by a “Don’t tell anyone about this.” Examples of these activities include photographing a child in a dance costume or playing with a child and “accidentally” touching the child’s genitals.
Fight back against child sexual assault with The Yost Legal Group
The most significant standalone grooming case to date might be 2011’s United States vs. Chambers (No. 09-3654). A jury convicted the defendant of violating the federal enticement statute.
Chambers argued that, although he chatted with an undercover agent for several months, he did not intend to meet “the girl,” nor did he take a substantial step toward meeting her.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, noting that “child sexual abuse can be accomplished by several means and is often carried out through a period of grooming.”
The court recognized that grooming refers to deliberate actions taken by a defendant to expose a child to sexual material. The defendant’s ultimate goal is to form an emotional connection with the child and reduce the child’s inhibitions to prepare the child for sexual activity.
The burden of proof in criminal court is beyond any reasonable doubt. The burden of proof in civil court is much lower. In that sense, even just a little evidence of grooming goes a long way.
What are the kinds of sexual abuse?
Grooming a child is just one form of sexual abuse. It is also worth noting that “abuse” is different from “assault.” Only some forms of sexual abuse involve physical contact.
These kinds of abuse include:
- Verbal: Crude jokes might be the most common form of verbal sexual abuse. Many of these abuse survivors do not speak up.
Usually, because they are afraid of the social or relational consequences of speaking up. One or two isolated incidents might not be actionable. But a pattern of conduct is a tort.
- Ritualistic: We move from perhaps the most common form of sexual abuse to maybe the most uncommon form. Nevertheless, ritualistic abuse happens, and it hurts. Making matters worse, many survivors are brainwashed to accept things like incest rituals, genital mutilation, child marriage, and chants during abuse.
- Visual: Unwanted exposure to explicit images is sexual abuse. Children cannot simply change the channel. Instead, they must bear the harmful consequences of uninvited exposure to sexually explicit photos, sexting or airdropping, and exhibitionism or flashing.
- Physical: Examples of physical sexual abuse include non-consensual cornering, tickling, kissing, excessive cleaning of genitals, touching, fondling, physical restraint, enemas, invasion of privacy, and stalking. Disproportionate power relationships (teacher and student) influence the potential for physical sexual abuse.
The impact of child sexual abuse causes long-lasting mental and physical injuries such as Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The cumulative effects of this type of stressful situation on child sexual abuse survivors can alter brain chemistry.
The resulting imbalance causes symptoms like anger, depression, and hypervigilance. Any form of child sex abuse or sexual violence against a child is unacceptable. These acts on young athletes by sports coaches, or sexual contact by a YMCA employee all must be brought to justice.
Is an organization responsible if the abuse happened at their location?
Individuals are criminally responsible when they sexually abuse children. But criminal cases usually do not compensate victims. To obtain the compensation victims need and deserve, an experienced sexual assault lawyer typically uses the negligent supervision theory.
Organizations negligently supervise employees when they do not adequately investigate misconduct allegations or do not properly follow through on such allegations.
Unfortunately, many organizations do not take abuse allegations seriously, especially in non-violent sexual abuse cases. Instead, they sweep things under the rug. The Baltimore Catholic Church ignored such allegations for decades. That is the main reason Maryland lawmakers abolished the statute of limitations in these matters.
Sadly, organizations like the YMCA, the Boy Scouts, and Foster Care are all breeding grounds for pedophiles. These investigations must be transparent, efficient, and thorough. Then, when investigations end, organizations must take appropriate action based solely on the facts uncovered.
Contact a compassionate child sexual abuse lawyer
Under Maryland’s new law, childhood sexual abuse survivors are entitled to significant compensation. If you or a loved one was sexually abused by a teacher, guidance counselor, or other school faculty or staff, you may have a case.
For a free and confidential consultation with a compassionate childhood sexual abuse lawyer, call The Yost Legal Group today: 1-800-967-8529. You can also click this link to fill out a form online, and someone will contact you shortly.
Looking for signs of child sexual abuse is one indicator. If you think the Department of Education isn’t taking your complaint about harm to your child seriously, contact us. If your child was abused by a coach, we are here to help.
We should take sexual abuse in public schools vs. the catholic church very seriously. We must hold these organizations accountable.
Athlete Sexual Abuse Lawyer – Foster Care Sexual Abuse Lawyer – School Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Teacher Sexual Abuse Lawyer – Therapist Sexual Abuse Lawyer – Boy Scouts Sexual Abuse Lawyer
YMCA Sexual Abuse Lawyer – Athletic Trainer Sexual Abuse Lawyer