Male survivors of sexual assault are prominent plaintiffs in lawsuits against the Catholic Church. It was a California man who made headlines last year for suing the Vatican, after all. But we rarely hear about them being sexually assaulted in other situations. This may be due to their fear of coming forward and a fear of how someone may perceive them. Often, men carry the silent burden of childhood sexual assault their whole lives.
More and more, we’re starting to hear stories of men speaking out as #MeToo shifts to #MenToo. In March 2019, 21 men banded together to file a sexual misconduct and discrimination lawsuit against a University of Southern California’s men’s health physician. According to the lawsuit, the doctor watched patients disrobe, made inappropriate remarks, and performed medically unnecessary rectal exams.
Male survivors of sexual assault may find that filing a civil lawsuit is one avenue for seeking justice and healing. This post addresses statistics of male sexual assault, how to seek justice through the courts, differences between criminal and civil proceedings, and where to find an experienced civil attorney in California.
Statistics on Male Sexual Assault: You Are Not Alone
The sexual assault and abuse of men don’t receive as much media attention, but the statistics show that no gender is exempt.
- At least one in six men have been sexually assaulted or abused in some way.
- One in 33 American men has experienced an attempted or completed rape.
- Sixteen percent of males were sexually abused by age 18, according to the CDC.
- Age four holds the greatest risk of a young man being sexually assaulted.
- Nearly a third of gay or bisexual men have been victims of sexual assault.
- The military estimated 6,300 men experienced sexual assault in one year’s time.
- One survey found 1.267 million men were coerced into non-consensual sex in their lives.
- Women were identified as the sexual assailant in 46% of male rape cases surveyed.
- BJS studies of male prison inmates identified at least 900,000 incidents of sexual abuse.
- Eighty-nine percent of male juveniles sexually assaulted in detention were victimized by female guards.
- More than 12,000 male victim sexual assaults are reported each year, says the DOJ.
How Male Survivors of Sexual Assault Can Seek Justice
Regardless of gender, survivors of sexual assault may:
- Press Criminal Charges: To press criminal charges, you must file a police report or contact the local District Attorney’s office directly. After reviewing your case, the district attorney may then decide to take the case to trial. The perpetrator will likely be charged with a crime against the state of California, where you may or may not act as a witness. The perpetrator will either be placed in jail, on probation, fined by the state, and included on the state sex offender registry.
- File a Civil Claim: To file a civil claim, you must contact a civil attorney specializing in matters of sexual assault and abuse. After reviewing your case, your attorney will decide whether to represent you in settlement negotiations or a court trial before judge and jury. Civil attorneys conduct thorough investigations and build the case for liability. Plaintiffs may sue beyond the perpetrator, going after the institutions and accomplices who turned a blind eye, failed to report the abuse, and allowed the perpetrator to hurt others. Often these third parties—such as the Catholic Church diocese, a school district, the Boy Scouts of America, or an athletic organization—are well-insured and can afford more significant reparations to victims. If successful, your lawsuit could provide compensation for medical treatments, counseling, lost wages or loss of earning capacity, and emotional pain, suffering, and distress.
- Do Both: Your legal avenues are not mutually exclusive. You can press criminal charges and file a civil claim. The standards of evidence are higher in criminal court, so even if you are unsuccessful in securing jail time for the assailant, you may still achieve victory in civil court. If the criminal proceedings turn out in your favor, the civil proceedings often go smoother, as the central facts of the case go undisputed.
Is Your Sexual Assault Case Within California’s Filing Deadline?
The filing deadline for a civil lawsuit is referred to as the statute of limitations. Though the deadlines are all spelled out in various state laws, it can be confusing to determine which law applies to you. You may think of it this way:
Were you sexually assaulted or abused as a minor? According to Section 340.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, you have until age 26 to file a civil lawsuit against your abuser. To press criminal charges, you may have 10 years (for abuse occurring before January 1, 2017) or an unlimited amount of time (for more recent abuse).
Did you bury your pain deep and only recently discover the reason behind your suffering? With sexual abuse, in particular, the experiences are buried deep, often for years. Victims may feel they have moved on, but painful psychological symptoms are triggered later in life, with disabling side effects. The delayed discovery rule allows up to three years from the realization of harm to file a civil lawsuit.
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Should Contact a San Francisco Attorney
It can be challenging to decide whether to press criminal charges or file a civil suit. If you’ve already decided, there is still a legal maze of paperwork in figuring out how to file a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse in California. Whether you are an adult male survivor of sexual abuse or the parent of a victimized child, the aftermath of sexual abuse may take you through the full gamut of emotions—but you don’t have to go through it alone. An experienced legal representative can act as your advocate, providing counsel and empowering control over the course of the proceedings.
Working with a California attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases is about more than legal advice and paperwork. Lawyers can also point you in the right direction for seeking medical attention, connecting with crisis social workers and counselors, dealing with insurance issues, and getting your life back in the wake of disturbing events that were beyond your control.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.