Systemic Sexual Abuse

Systemic sexual abuse is a type of crime involving sexual conduct. In this article, we’ll define the term “systemic sexual abuse,” give examples, and explain the laws related to it.

Key Takeaways

  • Systemic sexual abuse is an organized form of sexual abuse usually involving multiple perpetrators and multiple victims
  • Systemic sexual abuse may occur in fraternities and sororities, religious institutions, sports teams, and more
  • Victims of system sexual abuse may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the institution in order to recover damages for their losses

What Is Systemic Sexual Abuse?

Systemic sexual abuse is an organized form of sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse in this context can be defined as any type of illegal sexual conduct including:

  • Sexual harassment - Unwelcome conduct on the basis of a person’s sex including demeaning comments, suggestive jokes, unwelcome sexual advances, and other acts
  • Sexual assault - Any nonconsensual sexual act
  • Rape - Penetration of the vagina or anus with any body part or object or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person without consent
  • Sexual exploitation of children - The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct

Systemic sexual abuse usually involves multiple perpetrators and multiple victims. It can be used to control, condition, or “initiate” the victims. It may be repeated frequently and is often perpetrated under the pretense of initiation into a group or as a form of spiritual expression.

Examples of Systemic Sexual Abuse

Some examples of systemic sexual abuse include:

  • Sexual initiation or hazing rituals into a fraternity or sorority
  • Sexual abuse of members of a religious institution by one or more religious leaders
  • Sexual abuse of members of a sports team by a coach and/or other team authority figure
  • Sexual abuse of inmates of a correctional facility by one or more correctional officer

Systemic Sexual Abuse Law

The acts involved in systemic sexual abuse, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, and the sexual exploitation of children, are illegal in the United States. Each state has its own laws defining these crimes and their penalties, but they are often categorized as felonies punishable by a minimum of one year in prison.

Additionally, it may be possible to file a civil lawsuit against an institution that knew about (or should have known about) the sexual abuse but did not take action to address or stop it. Through a civil lawsuit, victims may be able to recover compensation for damages including:

  • Physical injuries
  • Emotional and psychological trauma
  • Mental anguish
  • Punitive damages

If you have been a victim of systemic sexual abuse, it is recommended that you contact a sexual assault lawyer experienced in these types of cases. They will be able to review your case and advise you about the next steps.

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