Compensation for assault at school.
If you wish to claim compensation for assault at school then contact our award winning specialist lawyers for a free case assessment and details of no win, no fee funding. Call 0333 888 0445 or email [email protected]
HC was a 14 year old secondary school student who felt unwell in class one day. She told her teacher that she had a headache and was sent to the sick bay. While there, HC was left alone despite this being against the school’s policy. A fellow student from her year entered the sick bay room and closed the door behind him. He then approached HC, forcibly kissed her and pinned her against the wall. This boy then attempted to remove HC’s clothes and sexually assaulted her.
She was initially unable to get free of the boy. She was shocked by what was happening and felt extremely frightened. Eventually, she was able to escape and leave the room. She tried to report what had happened to her teachers, but sadly she was not taken seriously and no action was taken by the school. In fact, after the assault a teacher attempted to force HC to go into a lesson with this boy and she was reprimanded when she refused to do so. It was not until she was eventually able to disclose the assault to her mother, who reported the incident to the Police, that any action was taken.
As well as enduring a frightening sexual assault, HC’s distress was significantly compounded by the response she received from the school and its staff when she attempted to report what had happened. The boy was questioned by the Police. It is understood he admitted the assault and was duly sanctioned.
HC began to suffer from mental health difficulties following the assault. She felt very angry, depressed and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. HC and her mother felt extremely let down by the school and therefore approached Slee Blackwell’s specialist and award-winning abuse team.
In investigating the circumstances surrounding the assault of HC, it was clear that the school could not automatically be held responsible for the actions of HC as he was a student rather than a member of staff. It was therefore necessary to establish that the school were negligent by establishing they knew or ought to have known the boy posed a risk and yet failed to take any appropriate action to minimise this risk. Although there was no evidence at first that the school were on notice of the boy posing a risk of this sort of behaviour, but the school’s response described by HC after she reported the assault gave serious cause for concern regarding their safeguarding practices. There was also concern that HC should not have been left in the sick bay alone and unsupervised by staff as this placed her at risk.
The school admitted fault for the assault and it later transpired they were in fact on notice that the boy posed a risk in terms of inappropriate sexual behaviour. He was not supposed to be allowed to roam the school without supervision but was able to do so on the day of the assault which gave him the opportunity to attack HC.
The school disputed the effect of the assault and therefore the value of the compensation claim. We obtained specialist medical evidence from a Consultant Psychiatrist, as well as a report from an Educational Psychologist to assess the impact of the assault on HC’s education. Court proceedings were issued and served on the local authority. Interim payments were obtained to fund private treatment for HC. We sourced and liaised with suitable psychotherapists for HC and supported her in travelling to the appointments so as to make it as easy as possible for her to engage with the treatment.
The school obtained its own psychiatric evidence. Their expert advanced a vastly differing opinion regarding the extent to which the assault had affected HC, which was distressing for her
As the court proceedings were advancing, the school put forward a settlement offer which was unsatisfactory to HC. However, our expert team were able to persuade the school to increase their offer to an acceptable level, enabling the claim to be settled out of court.
We specialise in claims against schools for sexual abuse and assault nationwide and have an enviable track record of success. Contact us today on 0333 888 0445 or email us in complete confidence.