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Institutional Abuse

Attorney for Institutional Abuse Victims in Philadelphia

Helping Victims Sexually Abused by Authority Figures Find Justice

Until sexual abuse is no longer a problem in our society, our team at The Villari Firm, PLLC supports all efforts to bring bad actors to justice. We are encouraged by the fact that more predators have been facing legal consequences for sexual assault lately. At the same time, we are saddened by the number of tragic stories we hear each day.

Many of these stories can be traced back to the same root: negligent institutions. National organizations of all types have begun to face heat for covering up sexual assault. Changes to state law have allowed more victims to seek justice lately, but we know just as many are still waiting for a chance to have their story heard. We are here to help these people take on organizations that give known sexual abusers constant access to vulnerable people, including children.

Using a position of power to sexually abuse others is repulsive, as is allowing such behavior to continue. The Villari Firm, PLLC can help you use the civil court system to seek justice. We want to hear your story.

Our skilled attorney can help institutional abuse victims in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Call us today at (215) 372-8889 to receive a free, confidential consultation.

Defining Institutional Abuse

As laws become more forgiving and society adjusts to a different framing of sexual assault, more victims are coming forward to talk about the way they’ve been treated by those they considered counselors, coaches, advisors, and even friends. How has this problem been able to spread so far and hurt so many? We all trust many institutions in our day-to-day, and a few corrupted members can cause a high level of damage while concealing the problem from everyone else.

Institutional abuse may occur in:

  • Churches or other religious settings
  • Schools
  • Medical and residential care facilities
  • Foster and group homes
  • Shelters
  • Teen groups and camps
  • Clubs
  • Sports organizations
  • Missions and ministries
  • Charities and volunteer-based associations
  • Jails and prisons

All these organizations give staff and/or volunteers power over participants, many of whom are children. Sometimes they also enforce a culture of reverence and/or complete obedience. This combination makes it easier for predatory leaders to take advantage of those under their charge. It also leads to reports of abuse being quashed, ignored, or disbelieved.All the while, abusers have steady contact with individuals who may be extremely vulnerable to or dependent on them.

Being taken advantage of by the person you trust and respect as a leader can be physically and psychologically harmful. Anyone who has been sexually assaulted by an authority figure deserves justice and reparations for everything they have gone through.

Causes and Indicators of Institutional Abuse

When reports of institutional abuse arise, organizations try to tell us they are a series of isolated problems that will be swiftly dealt with internally. While it’s possible this is true (though seldom proven), sex abuse is more often a symptom of a toxic culture. Organizations that do not mandate transparency are more likely to harbor abusers. Other warning signs include:

  • Staff who are not well-trained
  • Lack of oversight policies
  • Poor communication between staff at different levels
  • Lack of a formal background check process

How Liability Works in Institutional Abuse Cases

The victims of institutional abuse may think their only recourse might be against the individual who took advantage of them. There’s no question this person is at fault and should face legal penalties if they are still alive. We are always ready to help victims confront their abusers.

Beyond the abusive individuals, responsibility also rests with the leaders of organizations that permit and/or cover up sexual abuse. Directors and managers’ negligence may contribute to abuse through:

  • Failing to catch red flags in interviews and candidate evaluations
  • Allowing individuals wide authority with little supervision
  • Keeping reports of sexual abuse secret to protect the instigators
  • Controlling access to higher-level individuals to stifle complaints

Ultimately, institutional abuse comes down to the policies and responses of the organization as a whole. That means you will likely be able to bring a lawsuit against the group that, at some level, accepted abusers and made them leaders.

A Compassionate, Tough Team on Your Side

Sexual abuse lawsuits are never easy. We understand the trauma you suffered is likely still affecting you today. Our goal is to help you win justice and compensation while staying sensitive to your emotional needs.

To get started, we offer free and confidential consultations. You can come meet our team with no obligation to file a suit. We respect the difficult decision you are facing if you’re considering a lawsuit. After you share your story, our team will walk you through your legal options.

We want you to get justice—but we also want it to be on your terms. We can provide advice and help you make an informed decision that will benefit you now and in the future.

The Villari Firm, PLLC is a Philadelphia-based law firm. We are legal advocates for the injured. We are a staff of women who are standing by to fight for those who are sexually abused and are victims of abuse of power. We are: Detail-oriented; Innovative; Efficient; possess a Long-hours work ethic and Trial-ready.

We’re here for residents of Philadelphia and New Jersey who need support. Call us at (215) 372-8889 to learn more.

Our Clients Always Come First


  • “When I thought that my world was coming to an end after my accident, Heidi Villari fought for my family so we could have a decent living.”

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  • “We will never forget you and everything you did for us. We wish you continued success and happiness in life. Life is good for us and we are moving forward in a good place. You were a big part of ...”

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  • “She displays courage and humility in equal measure and commands immense respect in her adversaries as well as her colleagues.”

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Why Hire The Villari Firm?

The Right Lawyer Makes a Difference
  • Experienced Counsel

    With over 20 years of experience practicing law, Heidi G. Villari knows how to effectively and ethically fight for your recovery.

  • Access to Resources

    The Villari Firm works with the finest of experts, medical doctors and legal professionals who are in the best position to review your case.

  • Valuable Insight

    Heidi G. Villari has been on both sides of medical malpractice cases and is prepared to leverage this insight on her clients' behalf.

  • Prepared for Anything

    At The Villari Firm, we believe that preparation is key to success and are always ready to go to trial to fight on our clients' behalf.

  • Unwavering Support

    Heidi G. Villari is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to effectively fight for the compensation that her clients need and deserve.

  • A Proven Record

    Attorney Heidi G. Villari has fearlessly fought to help her clients recover over $110 million in compensation for their injuries.

Contact the Villari Firm And Leave the Battle to Us

If you have been harmed due to the negligence or carelessness of a medical professional, do not hesitate to let us fight for your rights. If you think you have no chance of recovering compensation, then you have never met Heidi G. Villari.