Sexual Assault at School
Trust is the fabric that holds our society together. When you drive your car, you have to trust that the car manufacturer built a safe car that won’t explode in a minor collision. When you rent an apartment, you have to trust the landlord to keep criminals away from your door. When you drive on a two-lane road, you have to trust that drivers coming the other way won’t drunkenly veer into your lane at the last minute.
There may be no greater example of trust than sending our children to school. For approximately seven hours per day, Americans must send their children to a school to be taught and cared for by teachers the parent may not even know.
Any violation of that trust is serious.
Schools Should Protect Children Against Sexual Assault
Tragically, it happens. Butler Tobin has represented the families of several children who were sexually assaulted by their teachers. Incredibly, such sexual assaults sometimes occur on the video cameras installed in classrooms or gyms. And these children aren’t alone. Recently, in an unrelated case, a teacher in Whitfield County, Georgia has been arrested and jailed for allegedly carrying on an improper sexual relationship with a student, according to Fox 5 News.
Teachers who betray the public’s trust by engaging in illicit sexual relationships with students face serious consequences. The teacher and, in some cases, the school can be held responsible. Georgia law recognizes that sexual assault is especially serious when the at-fault person is “a teacher, principal, assistant principal, or other administrator of any school.” O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.1(b)(1). Schools have a duty to only hire safe, qualified teachers, and to promptly report misconduct. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.7. If the victim or the victim’s family decides to fight back, they can often do so in federal court. Davis v. DeKalb County School Dist., 233 F.3d 1367 (11th Cir. 2000).
If a teacher betrays our trust by mistreating a student, the damage can be deep and difficult to repair. But holding the at-fault parties responsible helps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.