Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse Cases

When Misty Green was in kindergarten she was sexually molested by her Illinois school bus driver. The bus driver has since been convicted of child abuse and sent to prison. But now an adult Green seeks compensation from her Illinois school district based on its liability in the abuse (Green v. Carlinville Community Unit School Dist. No. 1).

An Illinois trial court granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment stating that all the counts against the district were reliant on the district’s classification as a “common carrier,” but that the district was not a common carrier. An Illinois Appellate Court agreed that the district was not a common carrier, but that it was still liable for the bus driver’s misconduct.

Under Illinois law a common carrier is a carrier who transports and serves all the public alike and does not have the ability to refuse service to anyone. Whereas a private carrier has no obligation to indiscriminately carry all of the public and instead transports only by special agreement. Both the trial and appellate court found that the school district was not a common carrier because it did not transport all of the public. Rather the district transported only students and only for student-related activities.

But even though the Illinois appellate court agreed that the school district could not be classified as a common carrier it disagreed with the trial’s court ruling- namely, that the district was not liable for the bus driver’s misconduct. Instead the appellate court found that the school district could be held liable.

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Chicago’s Roman Catholic Church has paid $12.6 million to settle 16 sexual abuse claims against 10 priests and a school principal. Over the past 30 years the Chicago Archdiocese has paid approximately $65 million towards settling 250 such claims against the clergy, most involving child victims. A few dozen more cases remain on the Chicago court’s docket.

Such sexual abuse cases against priests began surfacing in 1992 in Boston. Since that time the U.S. Catholic Church has paid almost $2 billion to settle these claims.

What is unique about the recent Chicago cases is that Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, agreed to release the transcript of his eight-hour deposition. According to the victims’ lawyer, “the release of [Cardinal George’s] deposition today is a significant step toward openness and transparency and helps the survivors and the church community in healing and recovery.” To date Cardinal George is the highest-ranking church official to ever give a legal deposition.

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