Child Abuse

A child - Case Study

We successfully acted for a young lady from west London, abused in childhood, recovering over £100,000 in compensation, from those responsible for the assaults.

Following the disclosure by a young girl, to her parents, of being abused by a drama teacher, we were asked by the child’s father to act on her behalf in respect of a claim for compensation.   At the time the father approached us the police were already involved, and criminal enquiries were substantially advanced. The case was leading to a criminal prosecution although the parents were concerned that all the attention seem to be on their daughters’ abuser, rather than her.

The police had kept the parents informed of the criminal enquiries and the progress of the prosecution case although the same degree of support was not being shown towards them and their daughter. They wanted someone to help and for a lawyer to represent them and their daughter in gaining justice.

We were pleased to be up to support the family and set about bringing a claim for compensation against the school/local authority, responsible for employing the drama teacher.

The criminal prosecution continued and was heading for a Crown Court trial when, on the eve of that trial the abuser died in a car accident. He therefore escaped criminal prosecution and the family were deprived of their opportunity for justice.    Although at the time of his death the allegations had not been proven and the subsequent corners’ inquest did not assist with proving the civil claim for abuse compensation against the local authority, we nonetheless remained confident of success in recovering compensation for this young lady who, shortly after we were instructed, began her secondary school education.

As the child had been sexually abused, over a long period of time, at such a tender age, it was impossible to know what the long-term effects of the abuse would be upon her. We therefore arranged for a paediatric consultant psychiatrist to meet with the child and her parents, to carry out a detailed assessment of this young lady, the effects and her current symptoms, with an emphasis on identifying treatment that may help this young lady come to terms, understand the consequences of what happened and to enable her to deal with those continuing symptoms as she matured as a teenager. The paediatric consultant psychiatrist, in a very detailed report, taking account of all the criminal evidence and medical history, provided a diagnosis and recommendations for treatment.

Notwithstanding the lack of conviction against the abusive teacher the insurers of the school and local authority accepted legal responsibility for what had happened, i.e. not disputing the child's account of being sexually abused by the drama teacher, both in and out of school, and at after-school clubs.

Before IBB Solicitors were instructed the parents had been offered just a few sessions of therapy by the NHS. This was unlikely ever to be sufficient to meet the girl’s needs, based on our experience of handing many child abuse claims.  We considered that long-term therapy was required.

Therefore, having obtained a detail report on the needs of this girl, to enable her to cope with the consequences of the sexual abuse, an interim payment of child abuse compensation was obtained from the insurers of the school, to enable her to receive private medical treatment. The treatment was provided by a local psychotherapist, specialising in childhood abuse, who proceeded to see the teenager on a regular basis.

This continued for some years, with the insurers continuing to make interim payments of child abuse compensation

As a consequence of the private treatment over some years she performed well in her GCSE examinations.  She also did well at “A” level.   She was therefore able to move onto University, to continue her studies. She was able to do this notwithstanding continuing symptoms arising out of the abuse she had experienced.

She was not free of those symptoms but was becoming stronger, so that the symptoms became less of a handicap in her everyday life.  However, she could not legislate for all eventualities and from time to time she would come across situations that caused her distress. Indeed, although she started at university, she felt she had to take some time out before resuming her studies.    Thankfully, she was able to continue with those and was on the path to graduate.

During the years that she received treatment as a teenager we obtained several detailed reports from the consultant psychiatrist, to chart her progress, alongside the treating psychotherapist.    At the time of the psychiatrist writing his last report he formed the view that the outlook was bright for this young lady, both in terms of her career and emotional stability.

Although child abuse compensation cannot make up for a damaged childhood, it can help to rebuild a life. With access to the right private medical treatment the life of a young person may not be forever damaged. It may provide the skills to enable the young person to build emotional resilience, ensuring that they are well placed to cope with life’s stresses. They can look forward to a positive future, not being held back by the burdens of their past. A child’s life does not have to be damaged forever if they are able to obtain access to justice.