Delaware Vote Tracker

HB 277 – Making Schools Liable for Sexual Abuse Committed by Teachers/Coaches

House Bill 277, sponsored by State Representative Sean Lynn, would codify a Superior Court holding in Doe v. Bicking, 2020 Del. Super. LEXIS 43, *32, 2020 WL 374677 (Del. Super. Jan. 22, 2020) that recognizes that in cases of childhood sexual abuse by an employee of a school, organization, or business that serves or cares for children, the perpetrator often has authority and power over the child victim, which can be enabled by the perpetrator’s position in that institution. If a child is abused while the perpetrator is doing the perpetrator’s job, the employer should be held responsible.  

This Act also changes the standard of culpability from “gross negligence” to “negligence” for public schools in civil claims based on childhood sexual abuse.

Children who are sexually abused by private employer employees (e.g. daycare providers, private schools, etc.) have more protection than children abused by their teachers and coaches at public schools.

There should be one standard of care that holds schools and businesses equally accountable when their recklessness, inattention, or failure to act causes a student to be sexually abused.

This bill seeks to avoid future instances of the result in Bates v. Caesar Rodney Sch. Dist., No. 13, 2021, 2021 Del. LEXIS 315 (Del. Oct. 6, 2021), a case which held that when a student is abused at school by a teacher, the school has no legal responsibility.

House Bill 277 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Lynn, Longhurst, Dorsey Walker, Bennett, Griffith, Heffernan, Dukes
Poore, Sokola, Sturgeon, Pettyjohn, Richardson
Current Status: House Judiciary

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