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Posts made in July, 2014

Volusia Teacher, Coach, Youth Pastor Found With 8,000 Child Porn Images. Child Sex Abuse Victims Likely.

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Child Sexual Abuse

Volusia Teacher, Coach, Youth Pastor Found With 8,000 Child Porn Images.  Child Sex Abuse Victims Likely.

I have to admit that I was rather astonished to read this article on the WESH.com website regarding a South Daytona teacher who has been accused of possessing thousands of child pornography images, and likely some other related charges.  My astonishment is two-fold. First, it is always distressing as a citizen of Central Florida to realize that there are people — and especially a teacher — like this, in our community.  Second, I was astonished at this story as a Florida child sexual abuse attorney because of some of the things that were seemingly known or knowable regarding the perpetrator here. 42-year-old Matthew Grazziani was arrested in his home in Volusia County last week.  FBI investigators found approximately 8,000 images of child pornography on his computer.  Apparently the FBI had become interested in Mr. Grazziani when he started sending child pornography images across the Internet to other people.  Obviously, Mr. Grazziani has not been found guilty of anything at this time, he has only been accused. 8,000 pornographic images is bad enough, but Mr. Grazziani’s computer also allegedly contained a folder entitled “personally known” that contained 41 subfolders with boys names on them.  Investigators also allegedly found at least one image of Mr. Grazziani, himself, engaged in a sex act with a young boy. Based upon my experience handling these kinds of cases, it would be shocking to me if there were not multiple child sexual abuse victims associated with Mr. Grazziani if these reports of the investigation are true.  Behavior like that seems similar to that of other sexual predators.  They very rarely have single victims. It should be noted that Mr. Grazziani occupies positions often sought-after by pedophiles.  At the time of his arrest he was serving as a middle school teacher at Warner Christian Academy in South Daytona, as well all serving as a coach and director of the summer camp program at the school.  In addition, Mr. Grazziani served as a youth pastor at the Faith Community Church in Edgewater.  Again, given Mr. Grazziani’s status in the community, if the investigation is accurate, it would not surprise if me at all if there were sexual abuse victims both at the middle school and the church. As a child sexual abuse lawyer, I was most shocked by information in the story that Edgewater police are now looking into a closed investigation that they opened 10 years ago where  Mr. Grazziani was accused of inappropriately touching a child. It is beyond me how someone who was accused of such a crime, even if he was not formally criminally charged, should be placed by an organization in a trusted position like teacher, coach, camp counselor, and youth minister.  While Mr. Grazziani certainly could have (and probably did) make a good impression during his interviews, surely any of these organizations could have found candidates who were similarly qualified, but...

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Will Woman Whose Head Was Run Over By Lifeguard Vehicle Ever Collect $2.6 Million Verdict?

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Motor vehicle accidents, Recent News

Will Woman Whose Head Was Run Over By Lifeguard Vehicle Ever Collect $2.6 Million Verdict?

I read with interest a story that appeared on the WESH.com website regarding a recent Central Florida.jury verdict. Last week a Volusia County jury ruled in favor of a in favor of a 36-year-old woman , and issued a verdict for $2.6 million. The woman, whose name is Erin Joynt, was vacationing in Daytona Beach in 2011 with her family when a full-sized beach patrol pick-up truck ran over her head she laid in the sand on the beach. Ms. Joynt suffers from partial facial paralysis, had a number of fractures, as well as and vision and hearing loss. Ms. Joynt testified at trial that she continues to experience constant pain. The jury divided its award this way: $100,000 for future medical expenses, $500,000 for loss of earning capacity, $500,000 for for past pain and suffering, and $1.5 million for future pain and suffering. As a Florida personal injury attorney, the most interesting aspect of this case will be what happens next with regard to actually collecting on this verdict. Since the jury verdict was against a governmental entity, the local lifeguard agency, many people do not realize that Florida law limits the amount of money that any person who is injured due to the negligence of a governmental employee can collect in a case. As of this writing, the limitation is $200,000 per injured person. Even though a jury of her peers believes Ms. Joynt’s claim is worth over $2 million, likely the only way that Ms. Joynt will ever collect $200,000 will be by pursuing a very complicated procedure called a Claims Bill all the way through the Florida Legislature. If the Legislature passes a bill to provide Ms. Joynt with the money, it will still be up to Governor Rick Scott to sign it. The reality is that our Republican-controlled state legislature very rarely passes Claims Bills. I hope they make an exception for Ms. Joynt. If you have any questions regarding an injury involving a governmental entity, or the Claims Bill process, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...

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Child Sexual Abuse Damages Kids, Regardless of Age

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Child Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse Damages Kids, Regardless of Age

Almost anyone with a heart can sympathize with a tender young child who is victimized by a sexual predator or child sex abuser. However, some people seem less wiling to open their hearts to teenage victims of sexual abuse. This is why I was particularly struck by a story by Rene Stutzman in the Orlando Sentinel that detailed the sentencing of a former Lyman High School teacher to 12 years in prison for having sex with (at least) two of his teenage students. Scott Kimbrough, who is 40 years old, was arrested at his Winter Park home after two girls came forward and indicated that they had sex with Mr. Kimbrough when they were 15 and 17, respectively, while they were students and he was a teacher at Lyman High School. Circuit Court Judge Marlene Alva sentenced Mr. Kimbrough to 12 years in prison, as well as a permanent designation as a sexual predator. As a Florida child sexual abuse attorney, what struck me most about the sentencing was the demeanor of the older victim that had come forward. (By the way, I would bet that there are more than two victims. It is not uncommon for there to be many more victims of child sexual abuse than actually come forward.) The oldest victim testified that Mr. Kimbrough had fully convinced her that he was in love with her. However, once the relationship was discovered by people at Lyman High School her life “became a living nightmare.” She ultimately had to drop out of classes, and she plunged into a deep depression which has now morphed into regular, terrible anxiety attacks. She testified that, today, she has trouble functioning in day-to-day life. These are not unusual symptoms for people who have been sexually abused — at any age. Regardless of age, research indicates that any person who has been the victim of a sexual attack is prone to having very serious emotional and psychological problems. I am sure that it took a lot of courage for this young lady to come forward and share her story with others. It ALWAYS does in this kind of case. In every child sexual abuse case we handle (where we are typically seeking money damages to pay for professional counseling, therapy, and other related services), I am constantly impressed by our clients’ courage. If you have any questions regarding a Florida child sexual abuse case, regardless of the age of the child, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...

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