Sexual abuse and assault are problems across the United States, not just in Riverside. RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), a nonprofit organization that promotes finding the end of sexual assault and abuse, cites statistics that are alarming. In the United States, it is estimated that every 73 seconds, a person aged 12 and older are sexually abused or assaulted.
When understanding the difference between sexual abuse and sexual assault, some people become confused. Many try to interchange the two terms, but abuse and assault are used to describe two different populations in which the crimes are committed against.
Sexual abuse is defined as sexual crimes committed against vulnerable populations. Those people who are considered vulnerable populations include children, the elderly, and people who suffer from disabilities. The idea is that these populations cannot provide consent to sexual activity.
Sexual assault refers to unwanted or non-consensual sexual acts that are committed by one adult against another. These acts can include fondling, touching, penetration, rape, and more. These acts are often extremely egregious in nature.
Harassment can also fall under sexual assault due to the non-consensual and unwanted nature. In Riverside, it might be beneficial for a victim of sexual abuse or assault to call upon the legal expertise of a personal injury lawyer and seek monetary compensation for the damages sustained as a result of these sexually violent acts.
What Types of Cases Do These Lawyers Handle?
Sexual abuse and assault perpetrators can range from a variety of people you know and trust to complete strangers. That is why experienced personal injury lawyers handle various cases that fall under the umbrella of sexual abuse and sexual assault.
- Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases (Catholic Church)
- Organizational Sexual Abuse Cases (Boy Scouts of America)
- School Sexual Abuse
- College Sexual Assault
- Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
- Daycare Sexual Abuse
- Medical Provider Sexual Assault
- Workplace Sexual Assault
- Rideshare Sexual Assault
These are only a handful of the cases that have been represented and handled by personal injury lawyers across the country. These types of cases often have criminal charges brought against the perpetrator but can also have civil lawsuits brought against liable parties.
An example of this is Dr. James Heaps. Heaps was a gynecologist for the University of California who sexually assaulted multiple female patients under his care. The assaulted women filed criminal charges against the former doctor. Still, there was a civil case filed against the University of California. Since the filing of that civil case, the university has made a $73 million settlement offer as a part of a class action settlement to victims.
This example is a good way to see how criminal and civil cases can be handled in circumstances of sexual abuse and assault.
Not all civilly liable parties are the same as the perpetrator. In this instance, the University of California had a duty to ensure the care of the female students on campus who were seeking out gynecological care. Heaps was hired by the university and remained on the staff despite the complaints lodged against him in the past.
Being aware of the complaints filed against him over the course of his career made the university’s regents liable for damages. Hiring a personal injury lawyer to review a case of sexual abuse or assault may uncover that more parties are liable and negligent in the case – not just the perpetrator.
How do you know what you can file and who can file it? The District Attorney will likely be the one who brings forward the criminal charges against the perpetrator if sufficient evidence has been collected. The victim should also seek out a personal injury lawyer to determine if their case may be eligible for civil damages.
What is the difference between criminal and civil charges in a sexual abuse or assault case?
Criminal Charges and Civil Charges
Criminal charges in sexual abuse and assault cases are brought forth by the District Attorney’s office once the proper reports have been filed. After the determination has been made that there is enough evidence for the case, charges are filed formally against the perpetrator, and the court and hearing process begins. Criminal charges result in guilty or not-guilty verdicts that result in jail time or other forms of punishment (often centered around the freedom of the individual).
Civil charges are different from criminal charges. Civil charges result in monetary damages being awarded to the victim of a crime, paid out by a liable party. Civil cases are brought forth by a personal injury lawyer and handled within the civil court system. Not all personal injury lawyers in Riverside handle these types of cases, so when seeking out consultation, inquire about the types of cases handled by that legal firm.
Civil lawsuits pursue economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are the monetary amounts that are quantifiable. Medical bills, therapy bills, rehabilitative bills, and lost wages are types of monetary damages that can have an amount assigned to them. Non-economic damages are a little harder to assign a monetary amount to. These damages are often the result of the injury and include pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
Many civil lawsuits see a settlement before making it to a jury trial. Settlement offers are often initiated and include the monetary amount to be awarded if the defendant pleads guilty. If initiated on the side of the defendant, the amount will likely begin as a portion of the amount that is being sought. Hiring a legal representative as a victim can make a difference in these types of cases. A lawyer who is on your side is not going to let a settlement that undercuts the damages go through.
Why Victims of Sexual Abuse or Assault Stay Silent
For some victims of sexual abuse or assault, the trauma can be overwhelming. Sadly, many perpetrators target those victims that they can intimidate or overpower, convincing them that the entire thing is the fault of the victim. Confused, scared, and alone, these victims choose to live with the trauma instead of turning in their perpetrator.
Crimes that fell into this category in the past were often “not discussed.” These opinions created a veil over the crime, making it something people turned a blind eye to. Movements like #MeToo have forced people to acknowledge sexual abuse, assault, and harassment – bringing them to the public eye.
The number of crimes that get reported is still lower than the statistics of those victims who sustain sexual abuse or assault. There is still a social stigma on these types of crimes, but those victims who come forward (survivors) are changing the dynamic every day. No longer do victims have to feel like:
- The abuse or assault was their fault
- There is a huge aura of shame around the act
- No one will believe them
- There will be retaliation on the part of the perpetrator
Victims (survivors) are protected when they come forward and file a report about the crime. From the moment they speak up, these survivors get support, and if they are comfortable, the legal process starts.
Statute of Limitations
Civil cases have a different set of rules regarding the amount of time a lawsuit can be filed against a perpetrator. In California, Governor Newsome recently passed new legislation that increased the amount of time victims in sexual abuse or assault cases can come forward about their perpetrator. Many of these changes were made because of the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America cases. Many of the children who were abused by these organizations were unable to file lawsuits because they “aged” out of the statute of limitations for the crimes.
Luckily, when hiring experienced legal representation, these experts are well-versed in the statute of limitations in their given states.
TorkLaw Represents Riverside in Sexual Abuse and Assault Cases
Riverside is just as susceptible to sexual abuse and assault crimes as much as the other cities and states across the United States. An experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer is needed for these cases. TorkLaw represents the survivors of these crimes in Riverside and the surrounding California areas.
The legal experts at TorkLaw legal offices have the experience needed to handle cases of sexual abuse and assault with respect and delicacy. We understand how traumatic these experiences are and how difficult it can be for survivors to come forward – we offer support, respect, and protect our clients during the legal process.
If you or a loved one have been sexually abused or assaulted in Riverside, we urge you to reach out to our TorkLaw legal team. We offer FREE and confidential case consultations for prospective clients. We can be reached via phone at 888.845.9696 or through our contact form on our website. We understand that talking about the case can be difficult, so we offer whatever ways we can to make you comfortable.
You are entitled to damages after a sexual abuse or assault occurs. Don’t let the liable party get away without compensating you. Talk to one of our case specialists today.