The highly competent personal injury attorneys at Compass Law Group LLP in California have won a significant number of cases through sexual abuse litigation. Knowing how deeply the wounds of sexual abuse cut, and how long they take to heal, we are dedicated to providing you with legal remedies, whether or not your abuser has been criminally charged or convicted of sexual assault. We are here to offer you skilled, professional advocacy, whether you are the anguished parent of a child who has been abused or the victim yourself. Compass Law Group’s sexual abuse litigation lawyer will fight hard to win your case and charge you no attorneys’ fees until we do.
Let Compass Law Group Help You Focus on the Future
We are here to offer you skilled, professional advocacy, whether you are the anguished parent of a child who has been abused or the victim yourself.
How is sexual abuse defined in California?
State law in California calls sexual assault sexual battery, a wide-ranging category of sex crimes of which sexual abuse is only one. Sexual abuse is mainly used to describe behavior toward children, not adults. However, in this content, we will cover all types of sexual abuse. You will notice that in almost all cases, even if the victim is an adult, there is an element of abuse of power involved, such as one that would exist between an adult and a child.
Why is it necessary to file a sexual abuse lawsuit in California?
A sexual abuse incident may result in criminal prosecution if it rises to the level of an assault, particularly when the victim is a child or a disabled adult, or when violence resulting in physical injury is involved. Even if the perpetrator is convicted, while the punishment of the abuser — such as incarceration, fines, probation, and being listed as a sexual offender — may give the victim a certain amount of satisfaction, it will not provide financial compensation for the victim’s suffering, nor funds to pay for her/his recovery. Thus, filing a civil lawsuit is usually the only way a sexual abuse victim can receive appropriate damages for injuries suffered.
We May Have to Sue a Third Party for Abuse
It’s important to note that filing a lawsuit against your abuser, unless that individual has sizable assets, may be an exercise in futility. This is why when you come to Compass Law Group for your initial consultation, we will not only assess whether you have a viable case but will investigate if there is a large entity, with deeper pockets, responsible for your abuse.
Perhaps, as often happens, your abuse was reported to the school, religious group, business, or organization at which it took place, but proper investigative or protective action was never taken. If such is the case, we may be able to file a substantial claim to hold the entity (e.g. the Boy Scouts, the Roman Catholic Church, or the University of Michigan) accountable. It is also possible to sue such an entity for failure to provide adequate security that would have made the abuse impossible or far less likely to occur.
Types of Sexual Abuse
You should be aware that sexual abuse not only needn’t include penetration; it may not even include touching. According to California law, though sexual assault is defined by touching the intimate parts of another to cause pain, injury, or discomfort, sexual abuse may involve:
- Touching a victim (however gently) in a sexual manner
- Forcing a victim to touch the abuser in a sexual way
- Making a victim look at sexual body parts or watch sexual activity
- Coercing a person to engage in solo or interpersonal sexual contact
- Exposing intimate body parts of the abuser or victim
- Intrusion on the victim’s privacy (e.g. while he/she is using the toilet or bathing)
- Displaying sexual images or reading sexual passages to the victim
Since sexual touch does not have to be part of sexual abuse allegations, the personal injury suffered by the victim can be totally in the realm of emotional trauma.
California Statute of Limitations
Because the pain of a child may occur later than the abuse itself, the Civil Code of California states that if the victim was a child when the crime occurred, she/he has 3 years from the date that they discovered, or reasonably should have discovered, that illness or injury resulted from the event. A new statute of limitations passed in 2020, also makes it possible to revive claims barred under the old statute as long as they are filed within 3 years. The statute of limitations for a person who was an adult at the time of the sexual abuse, however, is within 10 years from the date of the incident.
What is nonconsensual sex?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines sexual abuse as unwanted sexual activity, during which the abuser either uses force, makes threats, or takes advantage of victims not able to give consent. The sexual coercion implied by that definition applies in cases in which the victim is:
- Under 18, the age of consent
- Spouse or partner in a situation of domestic abuse
- Victim of sex trafficking or forced prostitution
- A prisoner or captive
- Drugged or intoxicated beyond the ability to consent to sex
- Physically incapacitated by injury or illness
- A patient in a hospital, nursing home, or another in-patient facility
- Mentally or psychiatrically incapacitated
- Under anesthesia or not fully conscious due to prescribed medication
- Under the power of an employer, member of the clergy, teacher, doctor, therapist, military or religious superior
Sexual abusers typically coerce their victims through threats of violence against the victim or loved ones of the victim (e.g. the victim’s parent, child, or beloved animal).
Perhaps the most horrible emotional injury caused by sexual abuse is self-doubt, often followed by self-loathing. Beyond suffering PTSD, including nightmares, flashbacks, and generalized anxiety, far too many victims question their complicity in the act(s) that traumatized them.
Victims of sexual abuse frequently become depressed, unable to perform at work or school, disinterested and withdrawn, unable to form successful adult sexual relationships, or even to trust those closest to them. Worst of all, victims of sexual abuse are much more likely than the general public to have thoughts of suicide, injure themselves, and make suicide attempts, some of which tragically succeed. Sexual abuse is a matter of life and death that must be taken seriously.
Contact Our Dedicated Sexual Abuse Attorneys and Reclaim Your Life
Because the standard of proof is less stringent in civil court than in criminal court, we have a good chance of obtaining damages even if your abuser slipped through the cracks of criminal justice. We only have to meet the standard of a “preponderance of evidence,” rather than the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If we find hard evidence that your abuser has abused others, for instance, we may be well on our way to a successful outcome. Don’t let your abuser set the tone for your future. Contact Compass Law Group and take back your sense of power and self-worth.
Contact our Los Angeles sexual abuse litigation attorney today to schedule an initial, free consultation.
We’re old enough to have the necessary experience, yet young enough to use the most cutting-edge technology and tactics, and are determined enough to fight and outsmart the other side, every time.