Sexual assault is legally defined as non-consensual contact of a sexual nature which may be done by threat of force or actual force or violence. A victim of sexual assault has the right to ask the State to pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator, but sometimes lack of evidence leads to the perpetrator being released. Luckily, the victim also has the right to sue the perpetrator in civil court, and they have the right to sue any other parties whose negligence or failure to provide adequate security led to the assault.
Few things can make a person feel more violated than being the victim of a sexual assault. When a woman (or a man or child) is violated sexually, the perpetrator robs them of their innocence, their virtue, their faith in humanity, their self-confidence, and their own self-worth. A rape forever changes the way the victim sees the world as well as themselves. Long after the physical pain has ended, the victim still lives with the emotional trauma caused by the barbaric way they were defiled.
A sexual assault demeans, demoralizes, and depresses the victim in a way that a person who has never lived through it can understand. The victim is crippled with a fear that is like no other, and this fear lasts long after the attack has ended. After a sexual assault, it’s not uncommon for the victim to entertain thoughts of suicide or other self-injurious behaviors.
After a sexual assault, survivors are forced to turn their focus on their physical as well as their emotional healing. Too often, well-meaning friends and family attempt to offer comfort by reassuring the victim that they “are safe now.” Unfortunately, they have no real idea of the inordinate number of issues the victims of sexual assault are often forced to deal with, such as:
Most people would agree that a rapist’s place is behind bars. But when those same people hear that a sexual assault victim has filed a civil suit against the perpetrator and other responsible parties, they often accuse the victim of “milking the system.” Though no amount of money can replace what was stolen from the victim of a sexual assault, it can help relieve some of the subsequent financial stresses caused by the crime (as indicated above). The fact is, the victim has likely accumulated a mass of expenses after their attack, and the only way they will receive any monetary compensation is through a civil lawsuit. This is the only way the victim can get a portion of the much needed financial restitution for their physical and mental pain and suffering, as well as their actual tangible expenses associated with the crime.
Sometimes, such a civil claim is not filed against the perpetrator of the crime, or is not solely filed against the perpetrator of the crime, but it includes other parties whose negligence enabled the crime to occur. Such examples might be a facility that failed to provide adequate security or supervision, or a facility that employed a person with a history of sexual assault without properly screening their background, or even a facility that knowingly hired a person with a history of sexual assault (or other crimes of a sexual nature such as voyeurism). What this boils down to is that it is possible for a victim to bring a lawsuit against more than one person for their sexual assault (or against people who were not even present at the time of the attack).
The victim may also be able to exercise a legal rule known as collateral estoppel which will allow the victim to bring evidence from the criminal trial to the civil lawsuit. This may be possible even if the criminal trial did not produce a conviction. This is important because the burden of proof in a civil trial is far less than that of a criminal trial, so the criminal trial proof should be ample to prove the fault in the civil case.
If you or a family member was injured (or of your loved one died) as the result of a civil sexual assault injury, you can’t go up against the negligent party alone, but an experienced attorney can.
Contact Dean Burnetti Law to get the help you need today.