No immunity for failure to protect kids from sexual abuse — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

No immunity for failure to protect kids from sexual abuse

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Does your public-service agency work with minors? If so, you should be aware that the agency isn’t immune from liability if employees sexually abuse those minors. That’s yet another reason to carefully supervise any employee who has contact with vulnerable populations as part of their work.

Recent case: A former detainee at a New Jersey youth-detention facility sued the center and the county that ran the center for alleged sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a female employee while he was still a minor. He claimed he agreed to sexual contact with the 24-year-old employee because he was afraid she might retaliate against him if he didn’t comply.

He filed the lawsuit under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act (CSAA). The Superior Court of New Jersey ruled that government agencies that stand in loco parentis (stand in place of the parent) must ensure that employees do not sexually abuse minors in their care. Plus, the court said the former detainee could receive punitive damages. (J.H. v. Mercer County Youth Detention Center, et al., No. A-3637, Superior Court of New Jersey, 2007)

Final note: The CSAA also may apply to private employers that have children in their care. That’s why it makes sense to supervise employees carefully. As this case illustrates, even women may be sexual abusers. No employee ought to remain unsupervised around children for any significant period of time if it’s possible sexual abuse might occur. Consider using monitors, such as cameras, for security and safety.

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