Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Educational Settings | Bolt Burdon Kemp Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Educational Settings | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Abuse Claims

Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Educational Settings

At university, college and other adult or young adult educational settings, staff-student relationships can be seen as romantic relationships between two consenting people over the age of 16. Sometimes, however, the power imbalance between a student and a tutor allows for grooming, blurring of boundaries, sexual harassment, image-based abuse (“revenge porn”) and sexual assault.

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Our specialist team at Bolt Burdon Kemp can help you make a claim if you were abused by someone within an higher education setting. Get in touch with our expert solicitors and we will guide you through this difficult process. We act for most clients on a no-win, no fee basis, and can also advise you about making a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

Reporting sexual harassment and assault

If you or someone you know has been sexually harassed or assaulted by someone in an educational setting such as a university or college, you should report it to the police immediately. Trained officers can visit you at home or an alternative safe space, and victim support services are also available.

You can also report harassment and assault to the educational institution itself, although recent reports and testimonies show that some organisations are ill-equipped to adequately deal with allegations of abuse.

Making a claim

You can make a claim against the individual who has harassed or assaulted you. This could be another student, your tutor or lecturer or another staff member.

If the individual is employed by your educational organisation, you could bring a claim against the employer for vicarious liability. This can often be the advised course of action as the organisation will be insured against such claims.

What is vicarious liability?

If you make a claim against a college, university or other educational setting, it is on the basis that the organisation is responsible for the actions of that staff member.

Vicarious liability is the principle that the person, whether a tutor or other member of staff, sexually harassed and/or assaulted you in the course of their employment.

We are experienced in proving vicarious liability by obtaining evidence to show how the tutor or staff member used their position to commit the abuse.

What if the organisation was aware of the abuse?

We can also hold the educational organisations responsible by proving that they were negligent in allowing the abuse to take place, whether that abuse was by another student or a staff member.

By demonstrating that the organisation knew about the abuse, or should have known about the abuse and failed to act, we can hold the organisation liable for its negligence: for example, if you told another staff member about the abuse and they did nothing, or if the abuser had a criminal record for similar offences before being employed by the organisation.

How long do I have to bring a claim?

Strictly speaking, you have three years within which to bring a claim to court. It is therefore important to speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as possible. If it has been longer than three years since you were subjected to harassment or assault, this isn’t the end of the road. The courts appreciate that there are significant barriers to coming forward and can therefore extend the time limit for bringing a claim under particular circumstances.

Bolt Burdon Kemp’s solicitors have extensive experience in persuading the courts to allow claims outside of the time limit and can help support you in this type of case.

How Bolt Burdon Kemp can help?

We understand how hard it can be to talk openly about these subjects, but you can trust in our specialist solicitors to handle your case sensitively.

Our expert solicitors hold memberships with the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL), the Law Society’s specialist Personal Injury Panel and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). We offer no-win no-fee agreements so that you do not have to take on any financial risk.

We know that money can never truly compensate for sexual harassment or assault. However, it can help you to rebuild your life, as a claim can be made for the cost of private counselling or loss of earnings if the incident has impacted your career. It is also a way for the abuser or organisation responsible to acknowledge and apologise what they have done, which can be empowering and an important part of the healing process.

Meet our Abuse Claims Team

Abbie Hickson
Senior Associate – Part of the Abuse Claims Team
Chanette Moise
Legal Assistant – Part of the Abuse Claims Team
Charlotte Wailes
Trainee Solicitor – Part of the Abuse Claims Team
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