Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2021
Sexual Assault by a Person in Authority
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an important time to help raise awareness and educate people about sexual assault, and GreeningLaw, P.C. wants people understand that if they or someone they love finds themselves in this unfortunate position, the legal experts on our team are here to help.
Being sexually assaulted is a difficult and traumatizing experience that no one should have to go through, and it’s made even more egregious when it is perpetrated by someone in a position of trust and authority.
We rely on certain kinds of people to act in our best interests, deferring to them on things like our health, childcare, spiritual guidance and more. So when someone in a position of power betrays that trust, it can leave victims feeling devastated, grieved, and unsure where to turn next.
Understanding sexual assault by an authority
In many (if not most) cases of sexual assault, the act itself isn’t necessarily about sex. Rather, it’s primarily a way for that person to exert their power, dominance, and/or authority over another person through the sexual act.
Unfortunately, authority figures committing these kinds of violations of power is nothing new, and it’s also not uncommon. In fact, people who want to commit sexual assault and similar crimes may even gravitate toward these kinds of positions because they know it makes them less likely to draw suspicion and makes victims less likely to report their misconduct.
These positions of authority commonly include:
• Police officers
• Workplace superiors
Wrongdoers in positions of power use a variety of tactics ranging from things like flattery and kindness to humiliation and even physical force (or the threat of force) to manipulate their victims. Regardless of the method(s) used, when one person imposes words or actions of a sexual nature on another person against their will, it qualifies as sexual abuse or sexual assault.
Criminal charges versus civil claims
Sexual assault is a serious criminal charge that can carry with it criminal punishments including jail sentences, withdrawal of licenses (to teach, practice medicine, etc.), as well as the requirement to register as a sex offender. At the same time, victims also have the right to pursue a civil claim against the person regardless of the criminal investigation.
The main difference between a civil and a criminal case for sexual assault is the focus of the case. In a criminal proceeding, the goal is to punish the alleged criminal for their bad act, whereas in a civil case, the focus to compensate the victim for their negative experiences and their losses.
Through a civil claim, victims can seek monetary compensation for damages related to the incident, including things like:
• Pain and suffering
• Medical expenses
• Intentional infliction of emotional distress
• Costs of psychological counseling and/or therapy
• Lost wages and earning capacity
• Loss of enjoyment
• Loss of consortium
• Punitive damages
Different standards of proof
Another benefit of civil lawsuits is that the prosecution has to overcome a lower standard of proof. In a criminal case, lawyers have to show that the defendant committed the sexual assault “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This can be thought of as having to prove within a 98% certainty they did it.
In a civil claim, the prosecutors only need to show that the defendant committed the act “by a preponderance of evidence,” meaning the assault is more likely to have occurred than not. This is more like having to prove with 51% certainty that the person committed the crime.
Seeking Compensation from Additional Parties
In some cases, claims stemming from a sexual assault may also be brought against additional parties beyond just the person who actually committed the violation. These additional parties may be brought into the case based on claims such as negligent supervision, negligent or improper hiring, or failure to provide adequate security.
For example, if a doctor or nurse commits a sexual assault in a hospital setting, the medical group or hospital system that hired the person and operates the hospital in question might also be named in the lawsuit. The same can go for churches, cities and municipalities, and places of business that employ negligent hiring practices or don’t provide adequate security and supervision for people on their premises.
While victims of sexual assault do technically have two years to file a claim against the person who committed the attack, waiting is not in your best interest. That’s because the more time that passes before you file, the harder it becomes to uncover and document important evidence needed to prove your case.
In addition, compensation sought for your case can provide needed resources to help pay for things like medical and psychological care for injuries and trauma, as well as cover things like lost wages and other expenses stemming from the incident.
GreeningLaw P.C. Wants to Help
If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual abuse, assault, harassment or other misconduct by a person in authority, we want to help, and we have experience handling a variety of sexual abuse and assault cases.
Our compassionate legal team cares about every client our firm represents, and we will treat your case with the same respect and attention we would afford our own family members.
When you contact us for a free consultation, we’ll take the time to go over all the elements of your case, discuss any compensation you might receive, and suggest the best legal course of action. We also make sure you get the best medical and psychological attention, and we’ll help you deal with the insurance companies to get any ongoing care you need.
Our lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay a thing unless you’re compensated for your case.
We fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal. We will get your through this.
Call (972) 934-8900 or visit our contact page today.