The special needs community suffers one of the highest rates of sexual assault in America. Individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities are known to be at a greater risk for sexual assault. A yearlong investigation uncovers that sexual assault and abuse of people with intellectual disabilities occurs as much as SEVEN TIMES more often than to people without special needs.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, people with special needs are targeted as crime victims more often than people without. This includes sexual violence and sexual harassment.
The abuse often goes unreported because victims don’t feel safe enough to talk about what happened to them or don’t think they will be believed. Some victims may not have the capacity to communicate their stories of abuse. Some victims don’t understand what sexual assault is and that it’s against the law.
No Safe Haven
People with special needs may be at risk of sexual abuse, in many instances assaulted by someone they know and trust. Special needs individuals are also more likely to be assaulted at places they should feel safest, and during daytime hours.
Special needs sexual assault victims are often harmed by:
- home healthcare providers
- counselors at special needs camps
- teachers at childcare facilities and schools
- nursing home or group home facilities (these are among the worst offenders, as patients are often physically unable to defend themselves or mentally incapable of reporting the abuse)
There is often a high turnover rate among caregivers in these settings. Perpetrators who commit sex crimes in these settings may never be charged or convicted. Instead, they move on to their next target.
Protected by Law
Sexual predators target special needs individuals because the predator sees them as easy prey. People with intellectual disabilities may not be aware that what happened to them is wrong and that they can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator and, oftentimes, the facility. A sexual abuse lawsuit may help to compensate for emotional trauma and other damages a victim may be experiencing after being sexually assaulted.
Sexual abuse survivors have enlisted legal help from law firms like Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. to bring justice to their claims.
Successful lawsuits representing people with special needs across the country include:
- Two New York law firms obtained a $28 million verdict against the Mount Vernon City School District entered in favor of the plaintiff. A 14-year old student with special needs was raped and beaten on three occasions.
- In Florida, an $8 million verdict was reached against the State of Florida Department of Children & Family Services and the Schenck Group Home. The verdict was reached on behalf of a profoundly mentally challenged 20-year old woman. She was raped and impregnated while in a group home. The fetus was aborted without the consent of her family.
- In Washington, a $2.4 million settlement was reached with the State of Washington Department of Social & Health Services. The plaintiff has severe developmental challenges and was repeatedly raped, abused and neglected by her caregiver.
- A Florida law firm achieved a $2.1 million verdict against Special Olympics Florida on behalf of their client. The plaintiff is a developmentally disabled athlete who was raped by a felon serving as a volunteer.
What Can You Do if You Have Special Needs and Were Sexually Assaulted?
If you or someone you love has an intellectual or physical disability and was sexually assaulted or abused, call Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. today. It is important to know that the assault is not the victim’s fault and that you are not alone. Our compassionate, experienced attorneys can help you understand your rights.
Want to Know if You Have a Valid Legal Claim?
Contact the attorneys at Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. if you or someone you love has special needs and was sexually assaulted. Call (844) 394-3624 to discuss your potential claim. We offer free consultations.