In Bridgeport, CT, a lawsuit was filed recently that alleges sexual abuse of children occurred over 30 years ago at the exclusive Indian Mountain School. State laws differ with regard to the statute of limitations for filing sexual abuse lawsuits, but Connecticut laws allow a generous time limit, and in some cases there is no time limit at all. Extended limitation time periods are allowed when abuse occurs during childhood, and certain criteria are met.
Extended Period to File Lawsuit
In Connecticut, the person who was abused as a child has up to 30 years from the date they reach age 18 (majority) to file a sexual abuse lawsuit. They also do not need to prove a memory was repressed or that they have some other disability to get this extended period for filing. In some cases, there also is no time limit. For example, if the abuser has been convicted of 1st degree sexual assault, there is no statute of limitations. Other exceptions include specific qualifications, such as victim or abuser ages or when threats were involved in the abuse. In this particular case, the plaintiff is now in his mid-40s and ready to confront his abusers.
Private Schools Accused of Abuse
Several private and other exclusive schools have recently been slapped with lawsuits claiming sexual assaults on children occurred combined with threats or blackmail to keep the problem quiet. The plaintiff in the Indian Mountain School filed a federal lawsuit that claims serious offenses were perpetrated upon him while he attended this institution as a child. The primary charges are sexual abuse and assaults on multiple occasions by three different officials at the school, and that the school knew about the abuse but deliberately hid the problem.
Under Connecticut law, school officials are mandatory reporters when they know about sexual abuse in school. They are required to report any incidents that happen at their school, but it is alleged that in this case, they did not. The plaintiff, Peter J. Buck Jr., claims abuse by multiple teachers and the school’s headmaster. These actions have caused him to suffer ever since, and he finally decided to come forward at this time to confront those responsible for the abuse and to get justice. Fear and reluctance to come forward are part of the reason why Connecticut does have the 30 year statute of limitations.
The Indian Mountain School is a private boarding and day school in Litchfield County. It was founded in 1922 and provides education for children from kindergarten through 9th grade. This lawsuit is the second to be filed within three months against this school. In addition to claims against the actual abusers, the lawsuit charges that school administrators had knowledge of the abuses and failed to stop teachers and the headmaster from assaulting and abusing minor boys at the school.
No Statute of Limitations
Unlimited time is allowed for certain other cases that are Class A felonies (CGS § 54-193).
- First-degree sexual assault on victims under age 16 when force or threat of force is used.
- First-degree sexual assault when the victim is under age 13 by an offender who is more than two years older.
- First-degree aggravated sexual assault on victims who are under age 16.
- An aggravated sexual assault upon a minor by a group.
Of Interest to Attorneys
When dealing with cases such as this one, there may be scant physical evidence because the event occurred so many years earlier. The charges are brought by a person who was a youth at the time, and who may not have even understood at that time that the activity was sexual abuse. They may have been threatened into silence or otherwise made to keep the secret. In this case, the plaintiff complained to another teacher, but it was later disclosed that teacher also was a pedophile who had been abusing other children at the school.
The current administration at the school is trying to be cooperative, but the case gets complicated as some parties have died or moved away. Administrators have notified the school community of the problem as they try to locate other former students who also may have been abused. The case was filed as a federal lawsuit in Bridgeport, CT, because the plaintiff now lives in another state. The abuse occurred between the years of 1982 and 1984, so both time and distance are problems Attorney Antonio Ponvert III had to deal with.
Justice Requires Diligent and Hard Work
Lawyers who take on these types of cases must do extensive research and interviews to find evidence and supportive testimony to win settlements or jury awards. The subject is no longer taboo, but others, besides your client, who were abused may be reluctant to admit they were harmed or to help you provide verbal evidence based on their experiences. You may need to use all your persuasive skills to obtain the supportive testimony that can help bring such a case to a positive ending for your client. Nonetheless, the quest for justice and fair treatment demands that these cases are heard, investigated thoroughly and that abusers are found and prosecuted.