North Carolina Institutional Sex Abuse Lawyer


New Hanover County Schools

$140 Million

$140 Million-plus default judgement against teacher-predator who abused his male students over 20 years in New Hanover County Schools

New Hanover County Schools

$5.75 Million

$5.75 Million settlement with New Hanover County Schools for sexual abuse of teacher on 14 of his students

Guilford County Board of Education

$3 Million

$3 Million settlement with Guilford County Board of Education for sexual abuse of teacher’s assistants on two female high school students

Powerful Representation for Victims of Sexual Abuse

The act to protect children from sexual abuse and to strengthen and modernize sexual assault laws goes into effect on December 1, 2019.

In 2019, the North Carolina General Assembly made it easier for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice with S.B. 199. The bipartisan bill was unanimously supported and approved by members of both the state House and the Senate and signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper on November 7, 2019.

The SAFE Child Act extends the statute of limitations in childhood sexual assault cases and gives survivors a longer time period to file criminal and/or civil actions against individual abusers and institutions that failed to prevent or concealed the abuse.

Statute of Limitations for an Institutional Sex Abuse in North Carolina

Under the SAFE Child Act, prosecutors have up to 10 years from the date of an incident to bring a criminal action. Survivors who were abused while under the age of 18 have until age 28 to file a civil action. While this law gives survivors more time to seek justice, that protection is not limitless. If you or someone you care about experienced institutional sexual abuse in childhood, consider consulting our legal team before the deadline expires.

Available Legal Actions

As previously mentioned, institutional child sex abuse survivors have two avenues to seek justice: the criminal justice system and the civil court system.

The state or federal government prosecutes the case when someone is accused of a crime. Penalties for a criminal conviction can include fines, restitution, jail time, and supervision in the community.

However, the unfortunate truth is most sexual assault perpetrators avoid detention.  If you or your child has been a victim of child sexual abuse, you should contact law enforcement immediately and provide them with as much information and assistance as possible.

In addition, you should consider consulting with a lawyer who can help you pursue justice  in a civil context.

Civil Lawsuits for Institutional Sexual Abuse

Many civil claims are settled out of court, with the accused agreeing to pay the survivor a financial settlement that compensates for physical and emotional damages. While it is possible to have criminal and civil actions for the same offense, a criminal conviction is not required to take civil action against a sexual predator and the institution that protected them. For more information regarding the New Hanover County Schools Sexual Abuse Case.

Identifying Liability in an Institutional Sex Abuse Case

Schools, juvenile justice centers, religious institutions, camps, youth groups, and other organizations are responsible for the individuals they hire, train, and employ to work with children. Institutions that fail to protect the children in their care can be held liable. When working to prove institutional sex abuse, it is crucial to determine if anyone was aware—or should have been aware—of improper conduct toward children.

In civil law, this is referred to as “notice,” and it’s an integral part of these claims. Our Wilmington, North Carolina, child sex abuse lawyers take the time to determine who was aware of the abuse and if they took action to stop it.

Institutions may be liable for child sex abuse if they:

  • Encourage, initiate, or allow child sex abuse to occur
  • Fail to adequately supervise or monitor volunteers/staff
  • Overlook or deny signs or allegations of child sex abuse
  • Neglect to properly screen volunteers/staff, particularly for past sex abuse

It is possible to sue individual offenders in court. And because they are considered agents of the organization they represent, you can often also sue the organization they work or volunteer for. Your attorney will help you determine the appropriate legal action.

How to Prove Institutional Sex Abuse

Sex offenders depend upon the victims’ vulnerability and shame to hide misconduct, allowing the cycle of abuse to continue. At Rhine Law Firm, we are determined to shatter that secrecy and shine a light on institutional abuse.

Successful civil suits for institutional child sexual abuse have three key elements:

1. Reporting the Abuse

Regardless of when the abuse happened, report it immediately to the organization in question. Also, notify your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible.

Adults who are caregivers also have a duty to report suspected child abuse immediately. The SAFE Child Act requires anyone 18 or older to report “all reasonably suspected child abuse to law enforcement, regardless of the abuser’s relationship to the child.”

2. Documenting Evidence

If you or your child is a victim of institutional sexual abuse, document all available evidence. It helps your attorney build a compelling civil claim for damages.

Evidence of child sexual abuse could include the following:

  • Communication: Texts, emails, voicemail, letters, and social media that show contact between the abuser and the child or mention the abuse outright.
  • Photos/video: Including sexually related materials depicting the victim or shared with the victim.
  • Medical records: Reports, photos, and testimony from healthcare providers that suggest or strongly indicate that abuse occurred
  • DNA/fingerprints: Biological evidence used to confirm contact between the alleged perpetrator and the victim.
  • Eyewitness accounts: Statements from third-party individuals who witnessed or were aware of child sex abuse.
  • Statements from the abuser: Admissions from the perpetrator made directly to the victim, witnesses, family, friends, and other children.

Do not feel overwhelmed by this process. We are here to help by leveraging our considerable resources to get the justice you deserve.

3. Working with an Institutional Sex Abuse Attorney

Victims of institutional abuse often stay silent because they fear they will not be believed. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when the defendant is a school system, church, or other large, established institution. You are never alone in this fight with a skilled civil attorney from Rhine Law Firm in your corner.

We represent victims of sex abuse because it’s the right thing to do. We are dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable and innocent members of our communities – our children. Our cases seek to change the behavior of institutions who permit predators who prey on young children under their watch.

We focus our work on institutions such as schools, religious organizations, and youth organizations because we know that is where predators hunt. We intend to help because it really matters.

Powerful Representation for Victims of Sexual Abuse

If you are considering pursuing civil claims against a sexual abuser, you should speak with a childhood sexual abuse lawyer to discuss your rights. The compassionate legal team at Rhine Law Firm, P.C. is  dedicated to the representation of victims of child sexual abuse and molestation. With headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina, we proudly serve clients across the state – and nation. For a free and confidential consultation with experienced attorneys, call (910) 772-9960 today.

Cases We Pursue

If you are considering filing a civil lawsuit against a sexual abuser, you should speak with a childhood sexual abuse lawyer to discuss your rights. The compassionate legal team at Rhine Law Firm, P.C. are dedicated to the representation of victims of child sexual abuse and molestation. For a free and confidential consultation with experienced attorneys, call (910) 772-9960 today.

Our Promise to You

  • National Practice with a Local Presence

  • Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Won

  • Over 30 Years of Experience

  • Experienced, Thorough & Dedicated Attorneys

  • Spanish-Speaking Services Available

  • Evening & Weekend Appointments Available Upon Request

“Joel Rhine and his staff did everything possible to help us in a very dark period of our lives.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better firm to handle my injury claim. If you do not have confidence with your attorney, you need to contact Rhine Law Firm immediately.”

“Rhine Law Firm went out of their way to make sure that my mother-in-law obtains everything she is entitled to in an injury case.”

“It was a long, arduous process and we cannot thank Joel and the rest of the team at Rhine Law Firm enough.”

“Joel will make sure you are well taken care of. He will fight for you and what you deserve and go to all measures to make sure you get it.”


Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7: Telephone: 800.656.HOPE (4673) Online chat: Español:

NC Coalition For the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

For more information contact Suzanne Metcalf at 919-829-8009.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255 This group provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources.

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