Why There are Often Two or More Defendants in a Civil Child Sex Abuse Case.
When a person is charged criminally with child sex abuse, they usually face the charge alone. Rarely is there a co-defendant.
But it is often different in civil child sex abuse cases. Sometimes persons other than the abuser are found liable for the abuse.
Institutions can be found liable for childhood sexual abuse. The Catholic church has been found liable in many cases because it left particular priests in positions to abuse children even after their superiors learned the priests were prone to abuse children. Schools, camps, sports programs—any institution that places adults in authority over children—can be found liable for sex abuse by one of those adults.
The spouse of the alleged abuser is often also sued. The plaintiff usually alleges that the spouse had reason to suspect that her partner was sexually attracted to children yet did nothing to protect the child who was abused, such as warning the child’s parents of the danger.
If the alleged abuser was younger than 18 at the time of the abuse, his or her parents may also be sued. As in a claim against a spouse, the plaintiff usually alleges that the parents negligently failed to protect the child or to warn the child’s parents. Here, too, the plaintiff needs evidence that the parents had reason to know the alleged abuser was a threat to other children.