Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

In early March, a 41-year-old former Markham police officer was charged with a federal civil rights violation in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of an individual while acting in his official capacity in 2010. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents reportedly arrested the former officer at his home in suburban Matteson. Following his arrest, the man purportedly pleaded not guilty at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago. The man’s arrest was apparently the third time in three months that criminal charges were filed against a current or former Markham law enforcement officer.

In 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported that the former police officer was sued for alleged abuse and other matters a minimum of 13 times in six years. In September 2010, the former police officer was purportedly indicted on federal civil rights charges in connection with another alleged sexual abuse. In addition, the man was supposedly sued an additional four times between 2010 and 2012. The former officer reportedly resigned from his position with the Markham Police Department in 2012.

Although the former police officer accused in this case was criminally charged for the alleged abuse, an individual who suffered sexual abuse may be entitled to recover financial damages by filing a civil lawsuit. In addition to the purported abuser, other entities such as a church, school, hospital, or nursing home may also be held liable for sexual abuse that occurred on the business or organization’s premises if inadequate safety measures led to the abuse.

Sadly, the victims of sexual abuse are reportedly three times more likely to suffer from depression than the average American. In addition, such victims are allegedly four times more likely to consider suicide, 13 times more likely to develop an alcohol problem, and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. In Illinois and across the nation, an estimated 15 percent of sexual abuse victims are under the age of 12 and 44 percent are under the age of 18. Approximately 93 percent of sexually abused children knew their attacker prior to being abused.

Sexual abuse often results in significant and lifelong emotional and psychological damage. In children, school performance may be affected and dramatic behavioral changes may result. If you or your child was the victim of sexual abuse, you should contact a quality personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
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In February, four civil lawsuits were filed on behalf of anonymous men against a convicted pedophile and two area school districts. The Cook County Circuit Court lawsuits accuse 76-year-old Thomas Hacker of sexually assaulting four boys in the 1970s and 1980s while he was employed by the two school districts. Hacker is currently serving a 100-year-prison sentence in connection with the sexual abuse of 34 other boys.

One of the recently filed cases also names the Burbank Park District where Hacker purportedly worked as a Director as a defendant. In that lawsuit, the unidentified plaintiff claims Hacker molested him on school district property on more than one occasion when he was 10 years old. Three other lawsuits name Chicago Public Schools, where Hacker was reportedly employed as a teacher in an elementary school, as a defendant. All four of the lawsuits allege the two school districts were negligent when they failed to conduct a pre-employment criminal background check on Hacker. Before Hacker moved to Chicago, he was previously convicted of sexual abuse in both Indiana and Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Still, he was allegedly continuously employed by an area school district for approximately 17 years.

In December 2012, a sexual abuse case against Hacker and the Boy Scouts of America was reportedly filed in Cook County. The plaintiff in that case alleges that repressed memories of the purported abuse surfaced after the Boy Scouts released about 1,200 so-called “perversion” files in October. Hacker’s name was allegedly included in the Boy Scouts’ file. That lawsuit is currently still pending.

Unfortunately, the victims of childhood sexual assault do not always come forward immediately due to fear or embarrassment. In the State of Illinois, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a child is now longer than for other types of personal injury cases. Since 2011, individuals who were sexually abused while a minor have until their 38th birthday to file an injury lawsuit against their abuser. In addition, a victim of sexual assault who has repressed any memories of the abuse has 20 years from the date he or she realized the abuse occurred to file a lawsuit. Children who were sexually assaulted prior to 2011 may face a reduced statute of limitations. If you were sexually abused as a child, you should contact a skilled personal injury lawyer to discuss your options.
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A new law that took effect on January 1st will ban convicted sex offenders in Illinois from attending or participating in holiday events that are likely to involve young children. In the future, sex offenders will no longer be able to hand out Halloween candy, dress up as Santa Claus, or play the Easter Bunny at holiday events. Violators will face possible fines, jail time, and could have their probation or parole revoked. The law was reportedly sponsored by Illinois State Senator Kirk Dillard. Senator Dillard said he chose to introduce the bill in response to multiple reported incidents where convicted sex offenders used holiday events in order to gain access to children in Illinois.

During the last Illinois legislative session, Senator Dillard also sponsored a bill designed to allow for the felony prosecution of individuals who attempt to lure children on their way to school into a motor vehicle. The law, which also went into effect at the beginning January, was proposed in response to a recent incident that purportedly occurred in DuPage County. In that case, a convicted sex offender allegedly tried to lure a 17-year-old girl who was walking to school into his van. Before the new law was passed, Illinois child luring laws reportedly only protected children under the age of 16.

Other new sex offender laws also go into effect in the New Year. The laws include professional licensing requirements for sex offender evaluators, risk assessment requirements for juvenile offenders who seek to be removed from the state offender registry, an expanded definition regarding what constitutes a child sex offender, and other changes.

In addition to criminal penalties, the victims of childhood sexual abuse may be eligible to file a civil personal injury case against their attacker or an entity that failed to keep them safe. Often, children who are sexually abused fail to come forward immediately out of fright or embarrassment. In the State of Illinois, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor is now longer than for other personal injury claims. Since 2011, kids who were the victim of sexual abuse have 20 years from their 18th birthday to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser. In addition, a victim who has repressed his or her memories of sexual abuse has 20 years from the date they realized they were abused during which to file a lawsuit. Unfortunately, minors who were sexually abused prior to 2011 may face a shorter statute of limitations. If you were the victim of childhood sexual abuse, you should contact a skilled personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.
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A popular and award-winning Chicago teacher was recently accused of molesting at least two male students in Ohio more than 30 years ago. Harold “Jerry” Mash reportedly resigned from his teaching position and left Ohio after he was convicted of misdemeanor abuse of a student in the Toledo area in 1976. Before he left Ohio, Mash was given a suspended sentence of six months on the abuse charge in a Wood County juvenile court. According to a former school board member, David Weaks, the abuse allegation against Mash involved allegations of sexual abuse.

In early November 2012, Mash was removed from his position at Foreman High School in Chicago. Both Illinois Teacher Certification Officials and Chicago Public Schools have allegedly begun an inquiry into the 68-year-old teacher’s past. Mash, who has taught in Illinois for the last 22 years, has reportedly denied all allegations of abuse. An Ohio Department of Education spokesperson, John Charlton, stated Mash obtained another license to teach in the State of Ohio in 1987. He also said there is nothing to indicate that Mash committed abuse in Ohio in the man’s departmental file. Despite that Illinois began performing background checks on teachers five years before Mash moved to the state, the Ohio abuse allegations were not discovered by Illinois officials.

According to a civil lawsuit filed in Ohio, Mash used positions of authority such as high school teacher, coach, and Boy Scout Leader to influence and sexually assault teenage boys. The lawsuit also alleges that Mash sought such positions in order to gain access to children he could then abuse and exploit. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $25,000. After learning Mash was employed by one of the largest school districts in the nation, the plaintiffs reportedly opted to file the case in an effort to warn other potential victims. Although criminal charges over the alleged 1970s sexual abuse may no longer be filed against Mash due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, the plaintiffs allegedly hope more recent victims may have the ability to seek justice in a criminal court against the Chicago Public Schools employee. In addition, since the claims of abuse allegedly occurred at Foreman High School in Chicago, civil suits could be brought against the Chicago Public Schools.

Too often, the victims of childhood sexual abuse do not come forward immediately due to fear or embarrassment. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor is now longer than for other personal injury cases. Since 2011, children who were sexually abused have until their 38th birthday to file an injury lawsuit against their abuser. Additionally, a victim who has repressed any memories of the abuse has 20 years from the date they realized they were abused to file a lawsuit. Children who were sexually abused prior to this time may face a shorter statute of limitations. If you were sexually abused as a child, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
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Sex abuse lawyers at our office have handled cases against religious organizations, school bus companies, and even hospitals. We are currently working on several claims against the Chicago Archdiocese. Due to our involvement in this type of work, we have been closely following the Boy Scouts story.

Multiple media outlets, including CNN, the Washington Post and the LA Times, are reporting that over 20,000 confidential documents will be released today by the Boy Scouts. The documents will reportedly identify more than 1000 Boy Scout leaders and volunteers that were accused of sexual misconduct with boys and were banned from the group. The files date from 1965 to 1985.

CNN is reporting that the files will not contain the identity of the victims and witnesses. They are being released with the permission of the Oregon Supreme Court stemming from a case where there was an $18.5 million judgment in 2010 against the Boy Scouts due to the sexual abuse of a boy by a scoutmaster.

The president of the Boy Scouts of America has stated that they are very dedicated to protecting children, but when on to admit that their response to sex abuse allegations in the past were “plainly insufficient, inappropriate or wrong”.

The Boy Scouts are against the court’s decision to release the documents. They argued that confidentiality has encouraged the reporting of possible abuse. They also believe the release could impact sex abuse victim’s rights to privacy
I personally feel that’s a ridiculous argument, as the names of victims are not being released, and the release of these documents could encourage many victims to come forward. Often victims of abuse bury their issues for years due to embarrassment or other reasons. Victims are more likely to suffer from depression, are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to attempt to commit suicide.

When a victim comes forward, they are often encouraged to get help and go to therapy, and start dealing with their issues. This process can improve their quality of life immensely.

The attorneys who won the release of the documents are holding a news conference today in Portland, Oregon. They are also asking for the release of sexual abuse files from 1995 – present.

One California attorney who represents scout victims is stating he believes that there could be “hundreds if not thousands of unidentified men who should be registered sex offenders who are roaming free in society”. He also said that due to the Boy Scouts actions, these men have been free for years to volunteer with other youth organizations, and work in schools.

The LA Times is reporting that these documents have been given the nickname “perversion files” and that they could show an unprecedented look at how these sex abuse cases were handled by the scouts from the 1960s – 1985. Their story also states that they have published a series of articles looking at nearly 1900 cases from 1977 to 1991. They found that hundreds of allegations were never reported to police and that Boy Scout officials often helped alleged abusers cover up what happened.

The LA Times article says their files show a pattern of “grooming behavior that alleged sexual abusers used to seduce their victims, and often to ensure their silence”.
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If the Jerry Sandusky travesty of justice at Penn State teaches us anything, it must be that allegations of child sex abuse must always be taken with the utmost seriousness.

Chicago sex abuse attorneys know failure to stop abuse only perpetuates the abuse of more child victims. In this case, Penn State apparently had ample evidence in 1998 and again in 2001. But it wasn’t just Penn State. Or famed Coach Joe Paterno. Law enforcement, prosecutors and child welfare advocates also dropped the ball.

In recent years, there have been an increasing number of llinois sex abuse lawsuits against religious organizations and others who’ve facilitated the acts of pedophiles. Abels & Annes is committed to working with these victims. Not only to recover compensation and ensure an offender is brought to justice, but to make sure their voice is heard.

Because the Penn State case also makes it clear that child sexual assault allegations can be proven years after the fact. This is often critical because children may hide the truth for years or are not brought justice at the time of an incident even in cases where the proper authorities are notified.

On Thursday the Freeh Report — an independent investigation conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh — found former Coach Paterno, University President Graham Spanier, Senior Vice President Gary Schultz. and Athletic Director Tim Curley failed in their obligation to protect children from Sandusky. The Sun-Times reported Sandusky was permitted to continue using Penn State facilities to groom and assault victims, even after he retired from coaching in 1999.

Curly and Schultz have been criminally charged with perjury for lying to the grand jury and for not reporting child abuse. Schultz retired and Curley is on administrative leave from the university.

”The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children whom Sandusky victimized,” the Freeh report concluded.

The Paterno family rejected the idea that “any sane person” would cover for a child sexual predator. The family thinks it more likely that Sandusky was a master deceiver who fooled law enforcement, family, coaches, players, neighbors and officials at his charity for disadvantaged children, Second Mile.

And that’s another critical piece of this puzzle. These people are often gregarious, intelligent, unassuming, friendly, outwardly wholesome individuals. They may spend months or even years grooming or abusing a victim. They may be important people in a position of power. When an allegation is made, it must be taken seriously by all involved.

It can be incredibly difficult to win justice in these cases. Having an experienced law firm at your side can often be a determining factor.

-In 1998, when the mother of an 11-year-old boy contacted police, all four university leaders were aware of the investigation. No charges were ever filed. Sandusky retired in 1999 after 30 years with the university’s football program. The Emeritus status given him permitted ongoing access to the football program and its facilities.

-In 2000, several janitors witnessed Sandusky with a child in the shower, but did nothing for fear of losing their jobs.

-In 2001, an assistant coach told Paterno he had witnessed Sandusky and a naked boy in a shower. He later testified he saw the boy being raped and told top university officials, including Curley and Schultz. In August of that year, a second victim was assaulted in the shower.

-Not until 2010, did the case begin to surface when the Pennsylvania Attorney General subpoenaed the university for personnel records of correspondence regarding Sandusky. In September, the Patriot-News newspaper contacted University President Spanier about the Sandusky investigation.

There were concerns as far back as 1995. Penn Live reported a note in the adoption file of Sandusky’s adopted son, Matt Sandusky, contained a letter of concern from his mother. As the paper put it, on at least 5 occasions spanning 13 years, a boy voiced concern about Sandusky’s conduct, or an adult witnessed troubling or alarming behavior.

“And at each stage, other adults dismissed, minimized or failed to act upon those concerns.”

Matt Sandusky later told police he was molested by his Sandusky for years.
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Media outlets throughout the Chicago area continue to report the $3.2 million sex abuse settlement against the Catholic church, which was secured by the Chicago personal injury law firms of Abels & Annes, P.C. and Hilfman & Martin, P.C. $300,000 of the settlement is to be placed in escrow for services.

ABC7 News reports convicted pedophile and former Roman Catholic Priest Daniel McCormack sexually abused the boy, who was a poor kid from a single-parent home who was looking to the church for safety and security.

The abuse in this case perpetrated by McCormack occurred when the boy was in grades 5 through 7. Now 18, he hopes to use some of the settlement to go to college.

Attorneys from Hilfman and Martin; Abels & Annes personal injury firms win major settlement in case tied to former Rev. Daniel McCormack.

Chicago — Chicago plaintiff lawyers Hilfman & Martin P.C. and Abels & Annes P. C. have settled a claim against the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal George, and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago involving sexual abuse of a minor boy by former Rev. Daniel McCormack in the amount of $3.2 million dollars, $300,000 of which is to be placed in escrow for services. The identity of the plaintiff and his family are confidential.

The victim sued the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George in 2007. He alleged that they failed to remove their priest, Rev. Daniel McCormack, from access to children although they had knowledge that McCormack had sexually abused minors. McCormack was arrested in January 2006, charged with multiple counts of criminal sexual assault and subsequently pleaded guilty to those charges in 2007. The plaintiff in this case is one of the victims for which McCormack pled guilty.

Amid the continued fallout at Penn State University over the sexual abuse of minors scandal that has recently come to light, football coach Joe Paterno has been dismissed, according to the Washington Post and many other media outlets. The decision was made last night by the school’s board of trustees and the move was made public at a news conference and a Happy Valley area hotel.

The Board of Trustees also decided to dismiss the university president as well. So far four school administrators have been fired due to the scandal which started when Jerry Sandusky was recently arrested on allegations of sexually abusing at least eight boys between 1994 and 2009. Sandusky was Penn State footfall’s defensive coordinator for many years under Joe Paterno, until he unexpectedly retired in 1999 at age 55.

After the announcement was made, large groups of students took to the streets of campus, tearing down lampposts and knocking over a news van. Another more subdued crowd gathered in front of the coach’s house just off of campus.

Paterno had been head coach at Penn State since 1966 and has won an NCAA record 409 games, including two national titles.

While the horrific events that went on at the University involving sexual abuse are still unclear and many of the reports differ, Chicago sex abuse attorneys at our firm hope the story shines a spotlight on the issue and the tragic consequences for the victims.

According to the American Academy of Children & Adolescent Psychiatry, sex abuse of a child has been reported up to 80,000 times per year, however the number of unreported abuse cases is far greater. This is often due to a child being afraid to report what has occurred.

After being abused, a minor can develop many different problems and negative behaviors. Victims often develop low self-esteem, become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can also become suicidal. Later in life abused children are much more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and experience many different issues regarding their sexuality.

The Penn State scandal also highlights the need to come forward and report suspected child sex abuse to the proper authorities. If you see something, say something. Often, the person reporting the abuse will be taking a great step forward in preventing other children from suffering the same consequences. Most often an abuser will not have one victim, but will have many victims over many years.

Illinois priest abuse lawyers
at our firm often hear from victims that they feel like their childhoods were taken away from them. Our office is currently working on several sex abuse cases, most of them against the Chicago Archdiocese.
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Chicago priest abuse attorneys are taking note that a grand jury in Missouri has indicted Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for not taking steps to notify authorities about child pornography discovered on a priest’s computer. The Bishop and the diocese pled not guilty to the charge of failing to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor, according to USA Today.

This criminal charge makes Finn the highest ranking Catholic official in the United States to be charged with trying to cover-up possible sex abuse of minors by a priest. Under Missouri law, church officials are required to report any form of suspected child abuse.

The indictments come from a grand jury convened in Jackson County after the U.S. Department of Justice charged Rev. Sean Ratigan earlier this year with child pornography possession. The prosecutor handling the case has stated that the fact that the charge is a misdemeanor should not lessen the importance of this case. The Bishop could face up to a year in prison and a $1000 fine. The highest fine for a corporation is $5000.

A spokesperson from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated that this is the first time they can recall a Bishop being indicted on this type of charge. The charge also represents a major setback for the Vatican in their effort to try to put sex abuse scandals behind them, according to the Washington Post.

According to the indictment issued on October 6, the Bishop and diocese had reasonable cause to believe that the Rev. sexually abused children.

The Post is also reporting that by 12/16/2010 school officials have notified supervisors of concerns about the Priest’s actions with children, and church officials located hundreds of photos of children, some sexual in nature, on his computer. Finn has reportedly admitted that he was told of the inappropriate photos last year.

But despite this knowledge, the church did not report to local authorities until May 2011, according to prosecutors. That same month the priest was charged with possession of child porn.

It has not reported if Ratigan continued to have ongoing contact with children during the period of time where the Bishop and diocese failed to report the suspected sexual abuse to local police.

CBS News is reporting that an internal memo was written in May of 2010 stating that several people had complained about Rev. Ratigan taking pictures of children, allowing them to sit on his lap and reach into his pocket for candy. This memo was reportedly given to a Monsignor, who also served as the diocese’s vicar general. The Monsignor then talked to Ratigan about setting appropriate boundaries with children, and then allegedly gave the Bishop a summary of the memo and his meeting with the priest.

CBS goes on to report that months later a computer technician working on the priest’s laptop found the inappropriate images of children, most of them fully clothed but focusing on the crotch area. There was also a set of photos of a 2 to 3-year-old girl with her genitals exposed.

The computer was turned over to the diocese, and church officials allegedly failed to report the collection of photos to the police, and the laptop was actually later returned to a relative of the priest.
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