Claiming compensation for sex abuse at school: A real life case study
We recently represented a man who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of two employees of a residential school for children with behavioural difficulties that he attended between 1978 and 1980.
Our client attended the school as a full time boarder. He was groomed and frequently sexually abused by two staff members from the age of 13 until he left the school at the age of 15. The abuse happened at the school as well as on residential school trips and in the homes of the abusers.
One of the abusers was a teacher and the other was a member of the residential staff. Our client was unable to tell anyone about the abuse that he had suffered until he was approached by police in 2013 to ask if he knew anything about abuse at the school that he had attended.
Our client discovered that one of his abusers was still working as a teacher and felt strongly motivated to try to protect other children from him. He went on to give a formal video interview.
Both abusers were ultimately convicted in 2015 and our client was a named victim in the criminal proceedings.
Our client spent years struggling with the aftermath of the abuse that he had suffered. At the time he felt shame and embarrassment. He was initially confused about whether it had been wrong. He did not want his parents to know and felt that he had nowhere he could turn to for help. As he became older our client realised that the abuse was wrong and suffered great distress about what had happened to him. This led to feelings of isolation from his family and from wider society. He found telling the police what had happened to him and the subsequent criminal proceedings very traumatic.
It was against this background that we were consulted about making a sex abuse at school claim. We assessed the case and agreed to work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
We obtained copy documents from the police and court. Our investigations revealed that the school was no longer operational. We therefore traced the company dealing with the insolvency of the school and from there were able to make contact with the insurance company that had provided cover to the school at the time our client was abused.
A letter of claim was sent to the school via the insurance company. The insurers responded and confirmed that they were investigating. They were unable at that point to confirm whether indemnity extended to the abuse that had occured off school premises. Ultimately they agreed to deal with the claim accepting that the school was ‘vicariously liable’ for the abuse inflicted upon our client.
It was important to obtain expert evidence about the impact the abuse had on our client. We therefore obtained his medical and school records and instructed an independent Consultant to meet him and prepare a report. This report concluded that our client had undergone a personality change as a result of the abuse as well as suffering from anxiety and avoidance.
We disclosed the report to the insurers and this resulted in settlement negotiations taking place culminating in our client accepting a substantial compensation package.