House Bill 277
151st General Assembly (2021 - 2022)
The General Assembly has ended, the current status is the final status.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 10 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO LIABILITY FOR SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD BY AN ADULT EMPLOYEE OF A SCHOOL, ORGANIZATION, OR BUSINESS.
This Act codifies the principle set forth 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 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 Act 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. This Act takes effect 90 days after its enactment into law.