Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Dismissal of Some Claims and Upholds Dismissal of Other Claims in Sexual Abuse and Rape Civil Lawsuit

eyes with tearsFew things are more devastating than suffering intentional abuse, especially at the hands of someone you trust. There are many claims involving adults sexually abusing minors. What many victims fail to realize is that in addition to facing criminal liability, the defendant also can face civil liability for the pain and suffering that he or she caused. Our seasoned team of Illinois personal injury lawyers has handled numerous cases involving sexual assault. As a result, we understand just how serious and sensitive this matter is for you and your family.

In a recent appellate opinion, the Illinois Court of Appeals was asked to consider whether a complaint alleging that a director of youth ministries sexually groomed and raped a minor was properly dismissed. In their complaint, the plaintiffs named several persons and entities as defendants, including the congregation that employed the director and the pastor involved. The trial court eventually dismissed the claims against the pastor and one of the congregations involved. The plaintiffs later amended their complaint, alleging negligent retention, negligent supervision, willful and wanton failure to protect, and willful and wanton failure to supervise against the various remaining defendants.

At its core, the complaint allegations referred to a two-year period of time in which the plaintiff was allegedly subjected to various types of abuse and sexual misconduct by the director. The complaint included allegations involving other minors who were allegedly victims of similar conduct. Ultimately, the director and other defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, which the lower court granted. After another series of motions, all claims against all defendants were dismissed. The plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider, but the lower court only granted it regarding the negligence claims against the pastor.

Later, the plaintiffs filed a 70-page second amended complaint renewing various claims against the director and other entities. The congregation and pastor filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted based on its conclusion that the complaint lacked factual detail regarding the misconduct of certain defendants. The plaintiffs appealed.

On review, the appellate court made several conclusions. First, it affirmed the lower court’s decision to strike certain portions of the plaintiffs’ first complaint, while also reversing its decision to dismiss the negligent hiring claims in the second complaint. The court then affirmed the dismissal of the negligent retention claims and of the willful and wanton conduct claims to the extent they overlapped with the negligent retention claims. The court then remanded the matter for further proceedings.

Sexual assault claims can raise complicated and painful legal issues. It is critical to have a lawyer on your side who knows how to navigate this process and who can ensure that you and your family are treated with the dignity and respect that you deserve throughout the legal process. At Therman Law Office, our personal injury lawyers offer a free and confidential consultation to help you learn more about the legal system and how we may be able to help you. Call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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