If you have been subjected to unwanted sexual contact, you may be entitled to financial compensation
Sex abuse, also known as sexual assault, is one of the most humiliating experiences a person can endure. Even if no physical injury occurs, the emotional scars can last a lifetime. Sex abuse is rightly considered a crime in New York, and sexual predators are vigorously prosecuted. The very same act of sexual abuse can also form the basis for a personal injury civil lawsuit. Our sex abuse attorneys know how to fight back and wn you the compensation you deserve.
Types of sexual behavior can support a sex abuse lawsuit
What kind of sexual behavior constitutes “abuse”? Although the law offers very few simple answers, sex abuse is often divided into two broad categories:
- Unwanted sexual contact — in other words, the victim did not subjectively consent to the sexual act. A sexual act does not have to involve penetration — unwanted touching of a sexual nature, not limited to kissing, is enough. Lack of subjective consent can form the basis for a sex abuse lawsuit regardless of the age or mental capacity of the offender.
- The victim subjectively consented but could not legally consent to the sexual act — because he/she was under the age of consent, for example, or was the vulnerable party in an unequal relationship of trust with the offender (with a doctor, dentist, counselor, priest, employer, for example).
New York’s “age of consent” laws
The age of consent is the age at which a person who is not otherwise incompetent to consent is considered old enough to legally consent to sexual relations. Sexual relations with someone under the age of consent is a criminal act, and it can form the basis of a sexual abuse lawsuit even if it was consensual.
New York’s general age of consent is 17; however, since exceptions exist, it is best co contact a lawyer to make sure. Once lack of legal consent is established, the younger the victim was, the more likely the court will view it as child molestation and likely award greater compensation.
Steps to take if you or a family member has been sexually abused
If you suspect sexual abuse, you need to act quickly:
- Contact the police immediately.
- Take the victim to a hospital or a doctor immediately, to be checked for legal evidence of sexual contact or abuse. Failure to take this step immediately could leave important evidence unavailable to you.
- Contact a sexual abuse psychologist or counselor for the victim.
- Contact the New York Office of VIctim Services. This organization might be able to provide you with a certain amount of financial assistance.
- Contact a sex abuse lawyer with experience in sexual assault civil lawsuits.
It cannot be overemphasized that time is of the essence and you need to act quickly. Nevertheless, many sex abuse lawsuits have been concluded successfully even where the abuse was not discovered until years after it occurred.. These types of cases are usually harder to win, of course.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I receive damages if the offender has no financial resources with which to pay a judgment?
A sexual abuse lawsuit is different from, say, an auto accident lawsuit, in the sense that very few insurance policies will pay out on a claim of sexual abuse, even if it is proven. If the defendant’s financial resources are insufficient to pay the claim, it might be necessary to add a second defendant — a church, for example, in a clergy abuse claim, if it can be established that the church negligently retained or supervised the offender.
As a sex abuse victim, can I keep my identity a secret?
Although vigorous steps will be taken to ensure your anonymity, total anonymity is all but impossible. If you are an adult and you testify against the offender (which may be necessary, you will have to face the offender in open court, which is usually a public proceeding (children can testify by video feed)..
The good news is that your name will not be released to the public in court documents, and the media and any insurance company that is involved can almost certainly be trusted to keep your identity a secret. Any secrets you reveal to your lawyer must be held in strict confidence unless you consent to its release.
Is the intoxication of the offender or the victim relevant to a sexual abuse case?
It depends on the details of the case. A defendant, for example, might argue that he was too intoxicated to have committed the crime, which would be an effective defense if proven.
On the other hand, “Your Honor, I never would have done that if I hadn’t been drunk” is no defense. The victim can, of course, allege that he/she was too intoxicated to have consented to the sexual act at issue.
Can I still sue for sexual abuse if the defendant is acquitted in criminal court, or if charges are never filed?
Yes, you can in both cases, because a civil lawsuit is a different proceeding from a criminal prosecution. In a criminal case, an acquittal means that defendant could not be proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” A civil lawsuit, however, uses the “preponderance of the evidence” standard to establish liability. This standard is much easier for the victim to meet than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.
The sexual abuse of my child wasn’t discovered until years after it happened. Has the statute of limitations deadline already passed?
In New York child sexual abuse cases, the statute of limitations clock doesn’t even start ticking until the child turns 18.
Hire Edwards Pottinger New York Sexual Abuse Lawyers.
Our local sexual assault attorneys enjoy decades of combined experience fighting for the rights of sexual abuse victims. If you or a family member has become a victim of sexual abuse, call Edwards Pottinger Firm at (800) 400-1098) or contact us online for a free consultation on your sex abuse case. And remember — you we don’t win, you don’t pay.