16 Jan Virginia: Sexual Abuse – a Lawyer’s School
On January 10, 2014, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided against the Defendant in the sexual abuse appeal of Linnon v. Commonwealth, No. 130179. It relied in part on Mr. Waterman’s brain injury case, Burns v. Gagnon, 283 Va. 657 (2012). Id. at 6.
Linnon upheld the 3-count conviction of a teacher for “taking indecent liberties with a minor by a person in a custodial or supervising relationship, in violation of Code §18.2-370.1(A)”. Id. at 3. “The key question in determining whether a given relationship falls within the statue is whether the defendant ‘had the responsibility for and control of the [child’s] safety and well-being’.” Id. at 6.
The Linnon Defendant was “assigned responsibility for student safety and supervision in the cafeteria one day each week and on the sidewalk before, after, and between classes each day,” which was “beyond the scope of his regular classroom duties and encompassed students not enrolled in his classes”. Linnon held Defendant “therefore had the relationship required by the statute with respect to [his crime victim] even though she was not his student.” Id. at 7.
Further, Linnon reiterated that a Defendant “may maintain the required relationship even when the proscribed acts occur outside the context giving rise to it”. Linnon continued, “whether such a relationship exists at the time of the offending conduct is a matter of fact to be determined on a case by case basis”. Id. at 8.
“Although the acts occurred at [Defendant’s] home outside school hours and during the winter recess, school was due to resume in a few weeks and [Defendant and his crime victim] would again see each other there on a daily basis as he performed assigned administrative duties”; Defendant had chosen “to initiate predatory contact at school”; and on the first day back, Defendant “renewed his advances at school, where the relationship required by the statute undoubtedly existed.” Id. at 9-10. Linnon concluded, “The jury could reasonably infer from [Defendant’s] conduct that his relationship with [his crime victim] was the same whether they were on or off school grounds, and whether school was in or out of session.” Id. at 10.
Coincident with criminal prosecutions for sexual abuse by Commonwealth Attorneys, Mr. Waterman has pursued Defendants with civil proceedings for substantial personal injury damages. Typically such civil lawsuits can be filed without disclosing the name of the minor crime victim in the Complaint.
THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR REQUIRES ALL LAWYERS TO POST THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMERS ON ALL CASE-RELATED POSTS. MR. WATERMAN’S CASE RESULTS AND CLIENT TESTIMONIALS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. THEY DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE BY HIM.