Monroe Township School District teacher charged with sexually assaulting a student, according to NJ News. Paul VanHouten taught science at Williamstown Middle School.
A 12-year-old female student’s mother reported the abuse to the police. VanHouten allegedly followed the young girl into a storage closet in the classroom and touched her breasts over her clothes. He then supposedly threatened that if she told anyone he would fail her.
VanHouten was arrested and charged with official misconduct, sexual assault, and endangering a child’s welfare.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent, an experienced sex abuse lawyer, represents victims of sexual abuse and their families in civil lawsuits. Below Kent provided insight into the legal rights of victims sexually assaulted by teachers.
Do schools have a legal obligation to protect their students?
“Schools and administrators have a legal responsibility to provide a safe environment and protect their students. Sexual predators often place themselves in positions of power. Unfortunately, sometimes these sexual predators are found working in schools. Schools and administrations must protect students from sexual predators in their schools.”
Is the school liable for a victim’s sexual abuse?
“Victims should secure the services of a sex abuse lawyer and ask if the school did its best to prevent sexual abuse. If a victim’s lawyer can prove the school was negligent, the victim may have grounds for a lawsuit. An example of negligence is if prior complaints about sexual misconduct were reported against a teacher, but the teacher was still permitted to work. If the school is considered negligent, the victim and their family may file a lawsuit.”