Tag: Sexual Abuse

The Train’s Moving – Jump On Board

Sometimes, it’s good to take a step or two back from the ‘day to day’ and look at the big picture.
And this may shock you, but from our perspective at Horowitz Law, when it comes to child sexual abuse, the big picture is good.

The big picture shows us that Martin Luther King, Jr. was right when he said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice” and when he said “No lie lives forever.”
Because, in the big picture, in recent years, victims of devastating sexual abuse have been stepping forward like never before, hundreds of thousands of them.

Want evidence? Just look at one edition of the New York Times last week. It contained these stories:
— “Inquiry Sought in Italy into Clerical Sex Abuse”
— “Rape Scandal Ends in Prison for Teacher in Indonesia
— “Prince Andrew Settles Abuse Suit With Prominent Accuser of Epstein”
— And a second story about who may end up paying Andrew’s settlement.
— And a long op ed about Bill Cosby discussing the new documentary about his crimes.

That’s not just a lot of coverage action against. of sexual violence. It’s also quite a range of perpetrators: Catholics, a Muslim, a British royal and a US entertainment icon.  None of this would be possible of course if not for the continuing courage of survivors. That courage is often inspired by news media attention on other brave survivors.

But for years, in the Times and other news outlets, very little mention was ever made of child sexual abuse. . . .

So our message to you is “Get on the right side of history! Join this movement for safety, justice and prevention. Whether you’re a survivor, a witness or a whistleblower, speak up. If you saw, suspected or suffered abuse, there’s no better time than RIGHT NOW to start protecting others and healing yourself.”

 

 

Lyft Horowitz Law

Lyft Announces It Received More than 4,000 Reports of Sexual Assault in First Safety Report

Lyft Releases Safety Report and New Measures: Are They Enough?

On October 21, 2021, Lyft released its long-awaited Community Safety Report that “details the frequency of the most serious safety incidents” and outlines policies designed to protect riders and drivers alike.  

According to the report, the ridesharing platform received 4,158 reports of sexual assault between 2017 and 2019. During those three years, the company said there were 360 reports of rape and ten deaths by physical abuse. 

Fifty-two percent of riders reported sexual assaults, while 38 percent of drivers made reports, the report reads. The remaining 10 percent were made by third parties, which included “law enforcement officials, regulators, family, friends or the media.”

While the company claims the rate of sexual assaults has decreased by 19 percent over those three years, Lyft acknowledges the true number of assaults is likely underestimated, given assaults are not always reported. 

Lyft’s report comes nearly three years after the company pledged to publish a sexual assault report in response to Uber’s 2018 announcement stating it collected more than 3,000 sexual assault reports. Lyft—which had previously represented itself as the socially aware alternative to Uber—has since faced a barrage of scrutiny for its mishandling of sexual assault reports. 

Understanding Lyft’s safety report requires an orientation into the problems facing riders, as well as the solutions they’re pushing for. 

The Problem: A Landscape of Unmitigated Abuse

Ineffective background searches, failures to remove abusive drivers, and the absence of meaningful support after reporting assaults drove dozens of victims to file lawsuits against Lyft.

One activist, who claims she was kidnapped and raped by her Lyft driver, says after she reported the assault, the driver remained on the app, and Lyft still made her pay for the ride. 

Another woman says that after she reported the abuse, Lyft responded: “We’re sorry for the inconvenient ride—we hope your next ride is better.” 

Not only do these accounts showcase how dismissed victims feel after reporting abuse, these instances underscore the challenges riders face both during and after their ride. Accordingly, Lyft’s enumeration of its safety policies is organized in three stages: before the ride, during the ride, and after the ride. 

Before the Ride

Before drivers are cleared to pick up riders, Lyft says it conducts background checks on applicants, which is later followed by annual checks and continuous monitoring that alerts them of any new offenses or convictions.

In addition to monitoring, Lyft also requires drivers to complete a community safety education course that covers respecting boundaries, defusing uncomfortable situations, and how to report incidents to Lyft. 

While training is a step forward, they do nothing to stop drivers who already intend to abuse their passengers. Alternatively, survivors call for more proactive measures like audio or visual recordings of drivers in cars to deter misconduct, or fingerprint-based background checks to avoid use of fake identities. 

During the Ride

In its report, Lyft says riders can share their location with others and connect with ADT security during uncomfortable situations. Lyft also checks in with riders when a ride seems to veer off path or has stopped for too long. 

While this approach appears to increase transparency, it places the responsibility of safety on the riders and their loved ones. With Lyft’s measures, it is on the rider and the ones they “share” their trips with to monitor the driver’s behavior and report any mishaps. 

This idea is evidenced in much of Lyft’s language surrounding safety and reporting. On its site, Lyft implores its “travelers” to “become the best kind of stranger.” In describing its safety tools, language like “know who’s picking you up” and “get emergency help” read like a self-help guide rather than a promise to support and protect. 

Preventing sexual violence goes beyond empowering individuals and their loved ones to be more vigilant and active; trainings and transparent reporting alone is insufficient in preventing harm. Solutions require companies like Lyft to address their role in a system that often complicates victims’ path to recovery and redress. 

After the Ride

Once a ride has ended, Lyft says it hides passenger information from the driver and allows the passenger to report anything they think Lyft should investigate. Further, Lyft says it also provides mental health support to riders, as well as resources for reporting incidents to law enforcement. 

However, this support wasn’t always available, according to lawsuits filed against Lyft in the last few years. In addition to treating victims dismissively, some victims have accused the company of trying to silence them. 

In December 2020, 19 women sued the company for working to hide, ignore, and dismiss their complaints. Other victims took to Twitter to share Lyft’s responses to their reports, including a $5 credit. 

These responses, paired with Lyft’s burden-shifting language, suggest riders carry additional responsibilities throughout each part of their journey with Lyft, as if they’re on this journey alone.

 

The Very Best Time to Report Abuse? Now.

No matter when you were hurt, the time to report the crime is now. Why?

Because he may be hurting another kid right now, especially during the pandemic.

What’s the pandemic got to do with child sexual abuse? Lots.

These days, “police suspect that abuse (is) actually more prevalent, given that most people are stuck at home. But with no teachers to spot bruises in the classroom, and nowhere for people to escape their abusers, such crimes were less visible, they said.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/us/coronavirus-crime.html?searchResultPosition=1

Evidence backs up this speculation. The Associated Press reports a four-fold jump in child cyberabuse in April 2020 over April 2019. (The headline puts it bluntly: “Alarming rise in online child sex abuse reports.”)

https://apnews.com/c8898aad60175df06ebd160023285001

“Kids are more vulnerable at the moment and predators know it,” one expert said.

And with school cancelled, families staying home, and millions no longer working, predators have more time around children than ever.

So it’s very possible that the man who molested you is molesting another child right now.

That’s the best reason to overcome your hesitancy and call the police.

Our minds, however, give us plenty of excuses to minimize risk, stay stuck and do nothing.

“Back when he hurt me, he was drinking all the time, but maybe he’s not drinking as much now.”

(Liquor sales spiked 55% in March of 2020, over March of 2019)

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/health/coronavirus-alcohol-addiction.html?searchResultPosition=2

“He only hurt me during that time he was stressed out about losing his job.”

(Millions of Americans of course have lost their jobs over the past few weeks. Millions more fear they will soon be let go.)

“He only hurt me those few months when he and mom were having a tough patch in their marriage.”

(Many intimate relationships are very strained these days, given health fears, lay offs, furloughs, economic uncertainty, ‘stay at home’ orders and other unusual and stress-inducing restrictions.)

“Now that mom’s laid off/working from home, and she’s around more, Billy and Sally are safer. . .”

(It takes just seconds to molest a child. Predators are smart and determined. No adult can constantly monitor and oversee and protect a child.)

There are other, more positive reasons to report abuse now. Here are just two.

—Crime has dropped dramatically during the pandemic. It’s likely police now have more time to investigate child sex abuse reports than ever.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/us/coronavirus-crime.html?searchResultPosition=1

—In recent years, police and prosecutors have developed new technologies and new approaches to pursue even older sex crimes and cover ups.

We at Horowitz Law aren’t police or prosecutors. We can’t guarantee you that reporting your abuse now will be easier or more fruitful than before.

But evidence suggests now’s a very good time to do it. We hope you will.

 

 

U.S.T.A. FAILS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM PEDOPHILE COACH

U.S.T.A. FAILS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM PEDOPHILE COACH

The United States Tennis Association (U.S.T.A.) is named in a new lawsuit alleging that it failed to protect young tennis players from a well known Bay Area coach arrested twice for repeatedly sexually abusing minors for decades. According to The New York Times, transcripts from the 2010 trial revealed the testimony of one student, alleging sexual abuse by coach Normandie Burgos, but jurors couldn’t reach a verdict.  The judge declared a mistrial. 

Almost a decade later, in August 2019, Burgos’ sentencing to 255 years in prison for 60 counts of child molestation, came as a result of a former student and victim who secretly recorded the coach admitting to sexually abusing a minor. The question begs, however, where was the U.S.T.A.?

Public records show that the U.S.T.A. took no action against Burgos. Additionally, he is not listed in the database of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent body created to track abusive coaches, trainers and those who have access to athletes.

In 2006, one school did fire Burgos and revoked his teaching credentials. In 2020, he was accused of abuse again. Despite this, the U.S.T.A. reportedly continued to give him travel grants, and failed to publicly condemn him. His victims say even though they reported his abuse to the U.S.T.A., nothing was done. 

According to the U.S.T.A. website, such inaction is in direct conflict with its “commitment to respect and safety for every individual participating in a USTA event or program through the use of screening, education and reporting tools. The USTA expects individuals to adhere to Safe Play policies and standards, as well as all other USTA policies, procedures, and practices and applicable external laws and regulations.”

It is expected that institutions in which children learn and develop skills, offer an environment in which they are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and sexual abuse. Coaches are entrusted to facilitate learning and support the educational and training needs of their players. Anyone who sexually violates children has no place working in the U.S.T.A. Any organization in which such a crime is committed must take responsibility for failing to properly screen potential coaches and protect their players. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse. If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a coach, principal, teacher or other other school employee, contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

 

Catholic Church Hides $2 Billion in Assets from Abuse Victim Settlements

Catholic Church Hides $2 Billion in Assets from Abuse Victim Settlements

According to Bloomberg Businessweek in January 2020, a review of court filings by lawyers representing churches and victims over the last 15 years has shown that the Catholic Church in the U.S. has moved around more than $2 billion in assets in an effort to prevent the money from going to alleged abuse victims. Throughout the country churches have been aggressively transferring and reclassifying assets, and filing for bankruptcy, as more victims of sexual abuse by priests have come forward and filed lawsuits.

From the early 1980s through 2002, church leaders paid out roughly $750 million according to BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit that tracks clergy sex abuse. Since 2004, dioceses have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than 20 times. This has allowed the dioceses to reach universal settle­ments and protected them from additional victim claims. 

“The survivors should have gotten that money, and they didn’t,” says Terry McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org. “The Catholic Church has behaved like a business. It hasn’t behaved like a religion that lives by the rules it espouses.”

In 2007, then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, sent a letter to the Vatican requesting permission to move almost $57 million into a trust fund originally meant for maintaining cemeteries. The letter revealed that the purpose of the move was to shield the assets. 

“By transferring these assets to the Trust, I foresee an approved protection from any legal claim and liability,” Dolan wrote.

When the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, it said it didn’t own the parishes, schools, or the 10 cemeteries within its territory. It claimed only $50 million in assets, while lawyers for victims estimated the archdiocese was worth about $1.7 billion. Ultimately, it reached the largest bankruptcy settlement by an archdiocese giving 450 people a total of $210 million, which averages to about $467,000 each. Some of the money came from church assets and some from insurance.

In New Mexico, to protect funds from settlements, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, has distanced itself from about $178 million since 2012. On average, an archdiocese in bankruptcy will settle with clergy abuse victims for about half the value of its estate. If the Santa Fe archdiocese settles for half the value of the $49 million it says it owns, the 375 victims will each get about $65,000, about one-fifth of the $300,000 they would get if the arch­diocese hadn’t taken $178 million off its ledger.

“The bankruptcy code should not be used to re-victimize victims,” said New Mexico attorney general Hector Balderas. “They are really just trying to shield assets.”

According to a 2018 study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, victims of childhood sexual abuse experience increased mental and physical health problems. Additionally, they receive lower earnings, with the cost to a victim of more than $280,000 over a lifetime.

“We realize that nothing can ever adequately compensate those who have been victims of this terrible crime,” Santa Fe Archbishop John C. Wester said in November, 2018. “Nonetheless, we seek to do all we can by way of publicly acknowledging their pain, offering apologies and providing financial compensation.”

The Roman Catholic Church is the world’s oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution. Church leaders have prioritized the wealth of the archdiocese over making victims whole. Moving around and hiding funds from sexual abuse victims is an outrage, immoral, and callously adds to the suffering these victims are forced to endure. 

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims on behalf of children who were sexually abused by clergy of all religious denominations.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused by a clergy member of any religious faith, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Sharp Rise in Clergy Sexual Abuse Claims in Catholic Church According to U.S. Bishops

Since the 1950s, more than 18,000 allegations of sexual abuse have been made against clergy members, the Boston Globe reports. More recently, there has been an influx of the filing rate of these cases according to newly-released data.

The annual report from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which covers July 2015 to June 2016, said 911 more victims came forward with allegations the church deemed credible.  The vast majority of these claims were from adults who said they were abused when they were children.  A large number of allegations were reported in Minnesota where the legislature amended the statute of limitations to allow additional victims to come forward.

This data highlights the fact that more work still needs to be done in addressing the clergy abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.  It refutes the popular contention that all of the victims have already come forward.  The numbers demonstrate that sexual abuse victims are empowered by state legislation allowing them to bring civil claims.  It is forth this reason that more states – including New York – should pass legislation giving victims more time to bring their claims.  In the absence of such legislation, many victims continue to suffer in silence.  The data further shows that victims gain collective strength in numbers and are likely to come forward after being empowered by high-profile cases in the media or in the case of Spotlight, the Academy-award winning film which exposed the scope of the cover-up of clergy sexual abuse by the leadership of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits nationwide involving abuse of children of many religious denominations, including the Catholic Church. You can reach Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Follow-Up: Department of Health Issues Emergency Restriction on Coral Gables Massage Therapist Charged with Felony Sexual Battery

In March 2017, Massage Envy therapist David Egusquiza was arrested and charged with felony sexual battery of a female patient at the Miracle Mile location in Coral Gables. That same alleged misconduct led the Florida Department of Health to issue an Emergency Order restricting Egusquiza’s massage therapy license.

The department found that “Mr. Egusquiza’s continued unrestricted ability to provide massage services constitutes an immediate, serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public.” As a result, he is hereby immediately restricted practicing massage therapy without a supervisor present. Egusquiza is awaiting trial in Miami-Dade County on the felony charge.

Incidents such as this are a reminder that persons who may commit sexual misconduct work in all industries, even professions in which we typically place our blind trust. All allegations of sexual abuse must be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and employers must be especially vigilant in the supervision and protection of our citizens at all times.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in handling claims nationwide on behalf of victims of sexual assault by massage therapists, including at Massage Envy and other national chains, spas, and hotels. You can reach Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

BREAKING NEWS: Jerry Sandusky’s Son Arrested on Child Sexual Assault Charges

The disturbing story of former Penn State assistant football coach and convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky took another dark turn on Monday, February 13, 2017. Sandusky’s 41-year-old adopted son Jeffrey has been arrested and charged with child sexual assault.

Jeffrey Sandusky was charged and arraigned in Bellefonte, Pa., according to WTAJ in Central Pennsylvania. Sandusky reportedly has been under investigation by Pennsylvania State Police since November 2016 following a child’s claims that he received text messages asking for nude photographs from the child. The child informed his father about the allegedly lewd texts, and the father notified authorities.

The criminal complaint cited in initial reports notes a second claim of child abuse dating back to 2013.

Bail has been set at $200,000 for Sandusky, who is prohibited from any contact with minors.

Jerry Sandusky is currently serving a 30-to-60-year prison sentence for serial child molestation over a 15-year span.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual assault, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Wyoming Doctor Paul Harnetty Faces Charges He Sexually Assaulted Six OB/GYN Patients

The disturbing trend of doctors and other health care personnel committing sexual assault on patients continues throughout the nation. In the latest example, former Casper, Wyoming obstetrician/gynecologist Paul Harnetty was arrestedon charges of 12 counts of sexual assault and attempted drug possession.handcuffed doctor

Harnetty, 46, could face between 18 and 225 years in prison for charges of nine counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of third-degree sexual assault, according to K2 Radio in Wyoming. The criminal warrant cites the alleged sexual assault of six female patients in the Casper, Wyoming area. Harnetty separately faces a drug charge after law enforcement found synthetic steroid Nandrolone during a search of his home.

The former obstetrics and gynecology specialist stopped practicing medicine in Wyoming in October 2015 and moved to Minnesota at some point between April and September 2016, according to the Casper Star Tribune. The Wyoming Board of Medicine filed a complaint against Harnetty after receiving several complaints of rule violations in February 2016.

Harnetty previously faced a state board investigation in Georgia in 2010, when he worked in a hospital there.

Prosecutors plan to extradite Harnetty from Minnesota to Wyoming to face the sexual assault charges.

Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing lawsuits nationwide on behalf of victims of sex assault by doctors or other healthcare personnel. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual assault, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.

Washington D.C. Dentist Charged With Drugging and Sexually Assaulting Patients

Former Washington dentist, Bilal Ahmed, has been criminally charged with sexually assaulting three male patients while they were anesthetized.  In 2014, Dr. Ahmed, 44, was treating a male patient at Universal Smiles DC in the 2300 block of M Street NW when the patient, after being administered nitrous oxide through a face mask, realized Ahmed was sexually assaulting him, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for District of Columbia said in a statement.

Ahmed’s dental practice’s office manager, Mahsa Azimirad, 26, of North Bethesda, who allegedly lied to a grand jury during the Ahmed investigation, was also indicted on one count of perjury, according to prosecutors.

The crimes Dr. Ahmed are accused of committing are an extraordinary violation and breach of trust.  We hope that justice is served in this case.

 Attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in filing a lawsuit on behalf of victims of sexual assault by healthcare professionals.  If you have a been a victim of sexual assault by a health care professional, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.