Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey, P.A.

Baltimore Law Blog

Some of the best times in a person's life occur during childhood. Many Baltimore residents have pleasant memories of playing with friends and family during the summer days.

Others are not as fortunate, however, as their childhood can be stolen away by others through acts of sexual abuse. For these individuals, there can not only be painful memories of what happened years ago, but lasting physical and emotional effects stemming from the abuse as well.

In these instances, it is important to hold abusers accountable for their sexual abuse and child injury. For instance, a former coach with the Maryland Suburban Swim Club was recently suspended from USA Swimming after he pleaded guilty to abusing a former swimmer in the 1980s. The man was charged with sexual and physical abuse of a female victim who was six or seven years old at the time.

While it remains to be seen whether there will be any additional action taken in the case above, typically those who are injured by sexual abuse may have a personal injury action they can bring against the accuser in civil court. This is separate from any criminal charges against the abuser, as the personal injury lawsuit seeks to hold the abuser accountable through another manner, with monetary relief being awarded instead of jail time.

In addition to having different means of accountability, civil and criminal cases differ in the burden of proof necessary to succeed in the case. As opposed to the higher beyond a reasonable doubt standard that is applied in criminal cases, plaintiffs in personal injury cases can succeed by proving their claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Accordingly, it is possible that an abuser might not be convicted of a crime, but could still be held liable to pay compensation to victims through a civil suit.

Source: Swimming World Magazine, "Maryland suburban coach Christopher Huott on USA Swimming banned list, will plead guilty to sexual abuse," July 18, 2014

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