Preventable injuries occur every day throughout our community. Sometimes they are caused by careless conduct, but at other times involve intentional acts of abuse and mistreatments. Our Panama City injury law firm works with those hurt in each situation.
These harms can befall anyone, from the elderly to young children. For example, WJGH is following the case of a local teacher accused of sexual abuse charges. Allegations to that end have been made against former middle-school teacher William Crews. Until his recent resignation, Mr. Crews taught eighth-grade social studies at the Deane Bozeman School in Panama City. On February 23, Crews was arrested by Bay County Sheriff's Office officials based on three initial counts of sexual battery. Six males, ranging from teens to adults, have now accused William Crews of sexually abusing them while they were enrolled at the school.
The claims suggest that the alleged victims were between thirteen and seventeen years old when the abuse occurred. Mr. Crews is alleged to have befriended the teenage boys and to have taken them to a storage unit on Highway 77 where he showed them pornographic materials and then performed sexual acts. The alleged events took place between 2001 and 2011 and also include claims of abuse on out of town trips that were not sanctioned by the school.
The Bozeman school is home to approximately one thousand three hundred students from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade. There will be a community meeting at the Bozeman school cafeteria on Tuesday March 6 at 6PM to discuss the matter. The meeting seeks to share information with the community about the current crisis and provide parents with resources to help them guide their children through this difficult and confusing time. Life Management Center staff from the school will be sharing a presentation on identifying signs of sexual abuse and will take community questions. Sheriff's Office representatives will also attend Tuesday's meeting.
Child abuse is one of the greatest fears of every parent, especially when it involves trusted individuals like a school teacher. Parents who find this fear becoming reality should be aware that they may have legal claims for child sexual abuse in Florida's civil courts. In the United States, the criminal and civil systems are distinct. Criminal charges are brought by government authorities to punish wrongdoers for violating the law. In contrast, civil cases are brought by victims seeking redress for wrongs done to them.
Only the civil system can provide victims with economic compensation for their harm. While economic recovery cannot undo a wrong, it can help victims afford the physical and psychological care that is vital to moving forward with their lives. It can also provide victims with an added sense of justice. Notably, civil cases have a lighter burden of proof, meaning a claim can succeed if proven by the weight of the evidence rather than the stricter "beyond a reasonable doubt" requirement of criminal court.
If you or your child is the victim of abuse, we urge you to seek help from trained mental health professionals. We also urge you to consider calling an experienced Panama City injury attorney for help seeking the justice you deserve.