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Establishing Institutional Liability for Sexual Abuse: Standards, Defenses, and Damages

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Recorded event now available

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This CLE webinar will discuss how an institution can be held civilly liable for sexual abuse perpetrated by its employees, agents, or even independent contractors. The panel will discuss potential defendants, statutes of limitations, proving breach of applicable duties of care, defenses, and damages.


Institutional sexual assault or sexual abuse occurs when someone in authority abuses their power to molest or assault a victim sexually. It can also arise if the institution fails to protect someone it was supposed to protect or fails to take reported allegations seriously.

The institution's civil liability is generally premised on negligence and vicarious liability and requires proving duty, breach, and damages. Examples of evidence that an institution breached its duty include failure to perform background checks, follow up on prior reports of sexual misconduct, or institute effective security measures. Other factors that influence liability include the form and criminality of abuse, the victim's age, the number of victims, the relationship between the victim and the institution, and the legal or practical ability of the victim to consent.

Consent and lack of foreseeability are common defenses, but strategies exist for piercing them. Counsel must also be careful not to void insurance coverage. Criminal proceedings often run parallel to the civil case.

Listen as this esteemed panel of attorneys guides counsel through holding an institution civilly liable for sexual abuse.



  1. Causes of action
  2. Statutes of limitation
  3. Title IX issues
  4. Insurance considerations
  5. Common defenses
  6. Damages


The panel will discuss these and other critical issues:

  • Can institutions be liable if they did not know of prior bad acts or propensities?
  • How are parallel criminal and civil suits to be navigated?
  • When is potential abuse foreseeable?


DeGroote, Kiersty
Kiersty DeGroote


Ms. DeGroote's practice focuses on complex matters related to personal injury, employment law, and general...  |  Read More

Present, Benjamin
Benjamin Present

Kline & Specter

Mr. Present joined Kline & Specter from another Philadelphia law firm, Conrad O’Brien, P.C., which defends...  |  Read More

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