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FAIR Act: Arbitration Required by Employers Could Be Banned if Passed

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At some point in life, you might be asked to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement. This legal contract waives your right to a fair jury trial, compelling you to go through arbitration proceedings to resolve a dispute instead. Arbitration is typically forced in cases of sexual assault and harassment, particularly in the workplace

Employees are less likely to win private arbitration cases and tend to receive far less compensation than they would in court when they win behind closed doors. Considering some 60 million Americans—including half of all non-unionized workers—have signed these contracts in the workplace alone, legislation banning mandatory arbitration agreements would be a huge milestone.

In this article, you’ll learn about the FAIR Act, what it could mean for victims of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace if passed, what California is doing to limit secretive arbitrations, and what you can do if you want to take legal action against an employer.

What is the FAIR Act?

If signed into law, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR Act) would ban forced arbitration agreements in all antitrust, civil rights, consumer, and employment cases in America. Arbitration could still be chosen as a method for resolving a dispute, but the right to go to court would remain on the table. At the federal level, the bill was introduced as H.R. 1423 (passed on September 20, 2019) and as S-610 (currently pending in the senate).

In response to outrage over the prominent role forced arbitration agreements played in the incidents involving Harvey Weinstein, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a similar bill—Assembly Bill 51 (AB 51), which would’ve gone into effect on January 1, 2020, but was halted by a federal judge before implementation. The bill was met with fierce opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, and the National Association of Security Companies. They argued that arbitration is a more efficient and affordable method for companies to resolve disputes and that the language of the statute violates federal law and Supreme Court decisions. 

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller agreed with the points made by the Chambers of Commerce and said that the “plaintiffs have raised serious questions regarding whether the challenged statute is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.” Further, Judge Mueller pointed out that “allowing the statute to take effect even briefly, if it is preempted, will cause disruption in the making of employment contracts, particularly given the criminal penalties to which violators of the law may be exposed.” 

As of February 2020, California AB 51’s ban on mandatory employment arbitration remains stayed as challengers asked the court for a preliminary injunction to continue the stay pending the outcome of the lawsuit. Until a decision is made, it remains lawful for employers to require applicants and employees to sign employment arbitration agreements.

Can I Sue My Employer for Workplace Sexual Assault or Harassment?  

Change through the legislative bodies can be a slow-going process, but all hope is not lost. Many California companies have already taken their own initiative to end the practice of forced arbitration. Facebook ended forced arbitration agreements in November 2018. Google ended forced arbitration in March 2019 after employees staged a walkout demonstration. Workers similarly protested Riot Games’ forced arbitration policies, causing the company to pledge a transformation of culture and allow an opt-out for individual sexual harassment and assault claims. In February 2020, Wells Fargo became the latest company to jump on the bandwagon in a commitment to their “zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.”

Additionally, there is some leniency within the courts, even if an arbitration agreement has been signed. The State of California has long held that legally-binding contracts should be substantively “conscionable.” When an agreement or arbitration proceeding is so one-sided it shakes the conscience, the courts may uphold your right to sue the employer for workplace sexual assault or harassment. The California Supreme Court will assess: Were the arbitrators neutral? Did the proceedings allow for more than minimal discovery? Was there a written decision by the arbitrator? Are all types of relief available? Did the parties have to pay unreasonable costs? 

A consultation with a knowledgeable civil attorney can help determine whether an arbitration agreement infringes upon your rights and whether it is enforceable.

Learn How the FAIR Act Could Impact Arbitration in California

Lewis & Llewellyn is a boutique San Francisco law firm specializing in sexual assault and harassment cases. Prior to our work in this niche, we represented plaintiffs and defendants in highly complex employment disputes. Our in-depth knowledge of business law, combined with our passion to help survivors of sexual assault, has led to substantial victories against well-heeled defendants like corporations and school districts. 

If you’ve signed a mandatory arbitration agreement but would like to have your case heard in court, the experienced attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn in San Francisco may be able to help. We represent survivors of sexual assault and abuse, even if the incident took place years ago. Our team has the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation. Contact us online for support and guidance or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

 
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.

age of consent in California

What Is the Age of Consent in California?

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When does a young person have the mental capacity to assume the risks of sexual intercourse and consent to that type of interaction? When does an age gap become a power differential that can be exploited to coerce a sexual relationship? These are the questions lawmakers grapple with in determining the laws regarding the age of consent in California.

California PC 261.6 broadly defines consent as “positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will.” By law, “The person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act.” It doesn’t matter whether the pair were dating or married at the time.

However, there are certain classes of people who can’t legally give their consent to sexual relations in California, notably: people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, people who are asleep, the mentally disabled, those who are coerced or under threat of retaliation, and children.  

Statistics Regarding Teenage Sexual Activity in California

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

  • 32% of high school students in California report being sexually active 
  • about half of these students say they drank or took drugs prior to engaging in sex acts
  • 7% of sexually active teens reported they had been victims of forced sex 
  • 2% of sexually active teens had their first experience before age 13 

Nationally, approximately 60% of teens say they’ve had sex by the time they graduate high school. If these confessions are true, that means about four out of 10 students leave high school as law-abiding virgins.

Prior to engaging in sexual activity, teens should consider the chances of pregnancy, STDs, mental health effects, and the risks of criminal consequences and civil liability.

Is It Illegal for Adults to Have Sex With Someone Under 18?

Yes, it is illegal. Adults over 18 can’t legally have “consensual” sex with minors under 18.

According to California law, there is no such thing as “consensual sex” if one of the participants is under the age of 18. Even if the underage participate agreed to engage in sexual activity, it is considered statutory rape. The criminal penalties for statutory rape increase considerably if the age gap between the participants exceeds five years. In civil court, a more persuasive case for sexual coercion can be made for instances where there is a power differential created by such a large age gap, or in cases where the adult was in a position of power over the child—such as a teacher, scout leader, priest, or employer.  

What Are the Penalties for Statutory Rape in California?

Statutory rape penalties range from $2,000 to $25,000, and one to four years in jail.

Statutory Rape (PC 261.5) refers to unlawful intercourse with someone under the age of 18, and it is the most common charge for sex with a minor. Sometimes this crime is also referred to as “unlawful sex with a minor,” “unlawful sexual intercourse,” or “carnal sexual abuse of a child.” Punishment for statutory rape ranges, depending on the age gap. 

When the age gap is less than two years, participants may face:

  • informal probation
  • misdemeanor fines up to $2,000
  • a maximum of one year in county jail

 When the age gap is two to three years apart, participants may face:

  • informal or formal probation
  • misdemeanor fines up to $5,000
  • a maximum of one year in county jail

 When the age gap is three to five years apart, participants may face:

  • informal or formal probation
  • misdemeanor or felony fines up to $10,000
  • imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or two or three years

 When one participant is over 21 and the other is under 16, the older participant may face:

  • informal or formal probation
  • misdemeanor or felony fines up to $25,000
  • up to four years imprisonment in county jail 

The District Attorney may also impose civil penalties, with an amount equal to the cost of pursuing legal action to be deposited into the state treasury’s Underage Pregnancy Prevention Fund. In addition to punishment for a criminal offense, participants may also be sued in civil court for damages, such as payment for the cost of pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, mental health counseling, or other related medical bills, as well as an allowance for an estimated amount of pain and suffering.

A person engaged in sexual activity with a minor could face other criminal charges as defined by the sexual assault laws in California.

Is It Illegal for Two Teens to Have Sex in California?

Yes, technically it is illegal for two teens to have sexual relations in California.

Often times, statutory rape is thought of as a crime committed against a young child by an adult perpetrator. However, the legal definition of a “child” in California includes anyone under the age of 18. So, in the case of two teenagers having sex, each participant can be charged with committing one or more crimes.

Is There a Romeo and Juliet Law in California?

No, California doesn’t have a Romeo and Juliet law.

While nearly half of U.S. states have some kind of “Romeo and Juliet” law on the books, allowing for greater leniency in cases where two dating teenagers are in a sexual relationship, California is not one of these states. 

Two minors caught engaging in sexual activity are often handled by the juvenile court system. Children under 14 years of age can’t have their cases heard in criminal court. If found guilty, minors ages 14-17 can be subjected to juvenile court treatment that may include home probation and placement in a juvenile home or foster care. This process may involve a detention hearing, fitness hearing, adjudication before a judge, and a disposition hearing to determine possible sentencing. Severe offenses may cause an offender to be sent to a juvenile detention facility until age 25, depending on the determined risk to the public.

If a teen over age 14 is charged as an adult for the abuse of a younger child, the courts could impose formal supervised probation, lengthy state prison sentences, fines up to $10,000, a strike under California’s “Three Strikes Law,” and mandatory sex offender registration.

Minors can also be sued in civil court through their litigation guardians. The parents of a minor can bring a lawsuit in the victim’s name or that victim can wait until age 18 to bring the suit themselves. Offenders can be forced to pay damages for tangible medical expenses, as well as an estimated amount of pain and suffering.

A civil lawsuit can also hold third parties accountable for failing to protect the minor from harm. California has a mandatory reporter law requiring anyone working with children to report cases of known or suspected sexual abuse to local law enforcement. Failure to do so can result in fines up to $1,000, imprisonment up to six months, and civil liability.  

Experienced Sexual Assault Attorneys in California Can Help

Are you a parent, concerned about your child’s sexual activities? Are you a teen who feels pressured by a peer to have sex? The experienced attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn in San Francisco may be able to help. We represent survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Even if the incident took place years ago, our team has the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation. Contact us online for support and guidance or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

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.

confronting sexual abuse

Why Confronting Sexual Abuse Could Aid in the Healing Process

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Not every survivor is willing to come forward immediately—or even ever—after being sexually abused. But, for those looking to move forward in the healing process, confronting sexual abuse could be the best course of action. Confronting sexual abuse may look different for every survivor; it can involve speaking up about what happened, pressing criminal charges, or filing a civil lawsuit. 

If you are wondering if you should confront your sexual abuser—and anyone else who may have known or aided in the abuse—consider the possible benefits.   

Possible Benefits of Confronting Sexual Abuse

Confronting Sexual Abuse Breaks the Silence

Recovery from sexual abuse doesn’t happen overnight. Survivors often endure many stages on the road to recovery but deciding to confront sexual abuse breaks the silence and could make recovering a little easier.

Stages of sexual abuse healing may involve:

  • making a conscious, willing decision to seek healing
  • dealing with repressed memories and suppressed feelings
  • overcoming disbelief and doubt about what happened
  • breaking the silence to another—whether friend, family, police, therapist, or lawyer.
  • acknowledging that what happened wasn’t your fault
  • grieving your losses, coming to terms with how the abuse impacted your life
  • relearning how to trust—restoring intimacy with friends and family 
  • becoming an advocate to prevent abuse and protect others

The experience of speaking out about sexual abuse is unique. Though public sentiment has shifted toward trusting sexual assault allegations, there are still personal and social stigmas. Maintaining silence often feels “safer” for victims as it may not threaten the normalcy and identity they have worked hard to construct. Coming forward anonymously is just as effective. There have been many successful cases where the plaintiff was awarded a settlement in civil court under the name John/Jane Doe.  

Confronting Sexual Abuse Holds Those Involved Accountable

Confronting an abuser and holding them accountable for their actions can feel empowering. Civil court allows for an expanded scope of liability—meaning the perpetrator, as well as institutions such as school districts, youth organizations, and church dioceses can be held liable for the role they played in aiding or enabling the abuse. 

Reasons to confront an abuser vary from person to person but may include to:

  • Validate memories and make sense of strange feelings or dreams.
  • Obtain answers, apologies, or the establishment of a genuine relationship.
  • Make the abuser and aiding institutions admit to their wrongdoing.
  • Seek financial redress for the personal damages suffered as a result of the abuse.

It is important to consider that you may not get the end result you desire. Abusers don’t always come forward to readily admit they were wrong. They can be defensive or angry, rather than apologetic. But, despite their readiness to take responsibility for their actions, they still have to answer to the laws regarding sexual abuse.     

Confronting Sexual Abuse Could Lead to Financial Reparation

Survivors of sexual abuse often incur financial losses as a result of the abuse. By filing a civil lawsuit, survivors can seek to have their personal damages covered by the defendant. Settlements in sexual abuse cases may include reparations for:

  • treatment of any related medical conditions—physical or mental
  • loss of wages and productivity—past, present, and future
  • pain and suffering

An experienced attorney will be able to help you determine exactly how to measure harm in your sexual abuse case. Over the course of a lifetime, it has been proven that sexual abuse costs the average victim more than $200,000—which includes healthcare, criminal justice costs, productivity losses, child welfare, and special education. 

An analysis of Truth Project participants uncovered that 85% of sexual abuse victims suffered from mental health problems later in life—most commonly depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Half of the survivors struggled with completing higher education or maintaining a job. Four in 10 had difficulties with relationships—whether it was an avoidance of intimacy or having multiple sexual partners with an inability to commit. Some sexual abuse survivors from the study had trouble eating or sleeping, while others were dependent on drugs and alcohol. 

The financial reparations you may gain through civil court can’t undo what has happened, but they can help you regain control in life by freeing you from financial concerns and providing funds for seeking treatment. 

Confronting Sexual Abuse Could Prevent Revictimization  

Confronting sexual abuse could protect you from becoming a repeat victim of the same offender. A typical pedophile will commit 117 sexual crimes in a lifetime, according to the National Sex Offenders Registry. By setting boundaries, calling out unwanted behaviors, and ensuring that crimes go punished, you can effectively work to remove yourself from harm’s way. 

One study found children who experienced rape or attempted rape in their adolescence were 13.7 times more likely to experience revictimization during their first year of college. In another study, nearly half of college-aged rapists admitted to having 10 or more victims. Coming forward can also aid in protecting others from sexual abuse. One archival review found at least 35% of convicted sex offenders had multiple victims before they were caught.  

Bay Area Attorneys Can Help Survivors Confront Sexual Abuse

Confronting sexual abuse doesn’t have to be a feat you take on alone. At Lewis & Llewellyn, an experienced member of our team will know exactly how to handle your case of sexual abuse. With a compassionate and skilled team of legal advocates on your side, you ensure your physical, mental, and emotional safety during the process. In addition to providing legal services, we can refer you to therapists or local support services while you await a settlement offer or trial verdict.

The attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn in San Francisco, California have the expertise and resources to win tough sexual abuse cases. Our core objectives are to help you find hope, healing, and justice. You can’t undo what has happened, but you can empower yourself by confronting sexual abuse. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients and we can help you, too. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

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.

how to prove sexual assault

How to Prove Sexual Assault Based on the Civil Standard of Proof

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Physical evidence is not always collected in the aftermath of immediate trauma suffered as a result of sexual assault. Oftentimes, the crime is not disclosed right away and memories may not be clear. These conditions may leave survivors wondering how to prove sexual assault, especially if the incident took place years ago. Many survivors—particularly those with childhood trauma from sexual assault—turn to civil courts, where the standard of proof is lower than criminal court.  

Civil and Criminal Courts Use Different Standards of Proof

After a sexual assault, there are two paths to seeking justice: 

Pressing criminal charges: In the aftermath of a sexual assault, you’d need to contact local law enforcement to file a report and press charges. Ultimately, it will be up to investigators to determine if there is sufficient evidence to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the alleged crime was committed.  

What does “beyond a reasonable doubt” mean in criminal court?

“Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the highest standard of evidence. A judge and jury must be at least 99% sure that events took place the way the plaintiff says they did. The defendant is given the right to appear and defend, the right to demand the nature and cause of the accusation, the right to secure witnesses, and the right to a speedy trial by an impartial local jury. Every person charged with a crime is presumed “innocent until proven guilty.” The burden of proof is upon the prosecution to prove the existence of ALL elements necessary to secure a conviction. The concept of “reasonable doubt” hinges upon a fair, rational consideration of the evidence and common-sense principles. The doubt is not vague, speculative, or imaginary—but based on the particular facts presented. Elements such as force, penetration, and identity of the accused must be proven.    

Filing a civil lawsuit: Contacting a civil attorney to file a lawsuit is a way to seek financial compensation for personal damages suffered as a result of the sexual assault. Damages may lead to a plaintiff having medical bills, needing counseling or medications, losing wages or the ability to work, as well as an estimated amount of pain and suffering. If you decide to push for settlement or a juried trial, your legal team will need to prove your version of events is true “based on a preponderance of the evidence.”

What is a “preponderance of the evidence” in civil court?

A preponderance is often measured by the “51% of the evidence” standard. Judge and jury must be persuaded that there is a “greater weight and degree of credible evidence admitted in the case” than not. When taken as a whole, a fact sought to be proved is determined probable.

Another point to consider is the matter of third-party liability. Civil court allows sexual assault survivors to sue others aside from the individual defendant. If you were sexually assaulted by a superior or coworker, chances are, your employer can be held liable for failure to hire, train, or supervise employees in a way that upholds Title IX. If the assailant was a teacher, a daycare worker, a priest, a camp counselor, a coach, a doctor, or another person trusted to work with children, then the employer can be held liable for hiring and retention practices. Passed in 2013, the Child Abuse Neglect and Reporting Act—also known as California’s “Mandated Reporter” law—holds those who work with children responsible for reporting to law enforcement any known or suspected cases of child abuse, including sexual assault.

Do You Need Physical Evidence to Prove Sexual Assault?

The state of California doesn’t require physical evidence or corroboration to win a civil trial. However, this type of evidence does help in securing an admission of guilt by the defending parties when reaching a settlement. Tangible, physical evidence can be difficult to come by in sexual assault cases, where there are typically no other immediate witnesses and 40% of victims bear no physical marks of the abuse.

There have been some cases where much broader evidence was presented in civil court that goes well beyond bruises, hair follicles, saliva, footprints, and DNA specimens; these may include the answers to such questions as: 

  • What color were the walls where the incident took place? 
  • What type of furniture was in the room? 
  • Can a warrant be issued to confirm? 
  • Can a witness testify where you were at during a particular date and time? 
  • Have you seen a therapist who can confirm that you’ve suffered trauma? 
  • Can coworkers testify as to a change in your demeanor, attendance, or work habits around that time? 
  • Were there other victims of the accused who are willing to come forward?

Experienced Attorneys Know How to Prove Sexual Assault

If you are considering coming forward about sexual assault but you’re wondering how you will prove what happened, an experienced attorney may be able to help. Even if the sexual assault took place years ago, you may still be able to hold the perpetrator and any enabling parties liable in civil court. A specialized attorney will know exactly where to begin when seeking justice on your behalf. 

At Lewis & Llewellyn, we seek to effect real change in the lives of those impacted by sexual assault. You deserve to have a compassionate advocate who believes you and will navigate the damages you may have suffered as a result of sexual assault. We can’t promise you’ll receive a specific amount of money, but we can guarantee the best legal remedy from our team of experienced California sexual assault attorneys. Contact us today, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to set up a free initial consultation.

 
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.

sexual battery California

What AB 1599 Could Mean for Sexual Battery in California

By Blog

Assembly Bill 1599 (AB 1599), a peace officer transparency bill introduced in January 2020, could close a vital loophole that kept sexual assault allegations off the public record. The bill passed the Assembly with a 63-2 vote in January and has moved to the Senate, where it is expected to pass by a wide margin sometime this summer. You can keep an eye on this legislation here. In the meantime, this article will discuss who the bill pertains to, why it was proposed, and ultimately what the passage of AB 1599 could mean for pending cases of sexual battery in California.   

What is Considered Sexual Battery in California?

By California law, sexual battery occurs when a person:

  1. Acts with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact with an intimate part of another, and a sexually offensive contact with that person directly or indirectly results.
  2. Acts with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact with another by use of his or her intimate part, and a sexually offensive contact with that person directly or indirectly results.
  3. Acts to cause an imminent apprehension of the conduct described in paragraph (1) or (2), and a sexually offensive contact with that person directly or indirectly results.

A person who commits sexual battery upon another is liable to that person for damages, including, but not limited to, general damages, special damages, and punitive damages.

What Could AB 1599 Mean for Cases of Sexual Battery?

AB 1599 expands Senate Bill 1421, legislation authored by Nancy Skinner which went into effect January 1, 2019. The law allows the public access to police investigation records of violent incidents allegedly committed by the police, which have been shrouded in secrecy since 1968. However, officers who resigned prior to the conclusion of the investigation are able to “maintain their privacy” and keep files sealed.

“We passed a landmark police transparency measure in 2018, but a glaring loophole lets bad actors who commit sexual assault under color of law keep records hidden,” admits Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham. “The public deserves access to investigative records into sexual assault under color of law under tight parameters. AB 1599 will bring transparency to government and help restore the public trust.”

If passed, AB 1599 would close the loophole and work to restore trust in the process. As Cunningham explained: “California’s peace officers have a very difficult job. As a former prosecutor, I know that the vast majority of them do their job with dignity and honor. However, sunshine is the best disinfectant and the only way to restore trust. Bad actors should not be able to exploit a loophole to evade responsibility.”

What is a Peace Officer in California?

The term “peace officer” is often mistaken for “police officer.” While a police officer may be considered a peace officer as well, the definition of a peace officer encompasses so much more in the State of California. The list of persons who are considered peace officers is codified in Sections 830 through 831.7 of the California Penal Code and includes:

  • state fire marshals
  • attorney generals and their investigators or inspectors
  • college and university police department officers
  • correctional facility personnel
  • highway patrol officers
  • governor-commissioned railroad police officers
  • police and law enforcement officers
  • San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Police Department members (BART)

Peace officers may carry firearms with special permission and have the power to arrest. They don’t need a warrant to arrest you if they believe there is “probable cause” and can be immune to civil liability if they believe they are acting in good faith at the time, even if the arrest turns out to be false. Penal Code § 148 states that it is “unlawful to resist, delay, or obstruct a peace officer in the course of the officer’s duties.” 

What Led to the Introduction of AB 1599?

AB 1599 was inspired by the alleged sexual assault involving a Paso Robles police officer.

According to reports, a police sergeant sexually assaulted a woman after responding to her home for a hang-up 9-1-1 call in 2017. Later, he returned to the woman’s house in civilian clothes to assault her again. DNA evidence linked the officer to the woman’s garage where one incident was said to have taken place. On another occasion, the officer was believed to follow the woman home from a restaurant, enter her bedroom, and attempt another assault. The woman claimed he threatened to have CPS remove her two children from her custody if she told anyone about what happened.

In another case, the same officer found another victim while canvassing the same neighborhood. This woman admitted to engaging in a consensual affair with him. However, the sexual relations only occurred while he was on duty—often in his patrol car. While she never felt forced or threatened, she did admit feeling “pressured” and “guilted,” as though he were abusing his position of power as a police officer. The woman said she felt “safe” when she was with him, but later feared retaliation after she confronted. GPS and cell phone data from the woman’s phone and witness statements corroborated her accounts of the affair.   

A homeless woman who had been arrested came forward as the officer’s third victim. She admits she was “propositioned” by the officer and asked to flash her breasts during an arrest in 2015 to “make this go away.” She said the officer did “similar things” to her that the other allegations included but declined to provide details because she didn’t want the officer to get into trouble.  

Delving deeper into the officer’s history, investigators found rumors of an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old police explorer as his cause for dismissal from the first job. Then, while assigned to a vehicle theft task force in 2009, the officer fatally shot an unarmed man following a physical confrontation upon suspicion that the man was tampering with vehicles. The officer was placed on paid administrative leave from May through August 2018, while the sexual assault allegations investigation continued.

Despite a detective working the case finding a dozen witnesses, DNA evidence, and GPS data to corroborate the accounts of sexual misconduct, county District Attorney Dan Dow said his office “didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute the accused. The officer resigned from the department one month into the investigation, thus blocking reporters or the public from obtaining personnel information in the criminal cases on which he’s worked. The first victim has contacted a civil attorney to explore her legal options.

Seeking Justice for Sexual Battery in California by a Peace Officer

Reporting sexual battery can be intimidating, no matter who the perpetrator is—but especially when the accused wears a uniform. Many survivors fear the officer assigned to investigate their claim of sexual battery is a colleague or friend of the accused. If you fear retaliation, consider reaching out to a civil attorney who can aid in your fight for justice. 

Peace officers are not above the law. The individual perpetrators, as well as the departments for which they work, can be held liable in civil court for damages suffered as a result of sexual battery. Even if your case didn’t stand in criminal court, you can still seek monetary compensation for your suffering, the release of records, sheriff department changes, and other sanctions through civil court. In civil court, you need only prove that your case is 51% or more likely to have happened, based on a preponderance of the evidence.

At Lewis & Llewellyn, our experienced sexual abuse attorneys are committed to upholding the law even when enforcement officers are involved. We are not afraid to go up against large institutions such as justice departments on behalf of our clients. If you were sexually abused, you deserve justice. Contact us today for more information regarding reporting sexual battery in California, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to set up a free initial consultation.

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.

help for teenage rape victim

How Parents Can Seek Help for Teenage Rape Victims

By Blog

In California, there were 2,248 cases of child and teenage sexual assault reported in 2018. By law, rape is classified under sexual assault. Many children are unwilling or unable to come forward with details about what happened to them, so if you’ve been made aware that your child is a victim of sexual assault, you are at least in a position to take action. California law offers two paths to justice through criminal and civil courts. In this article, we will explore your options and let you know where you can seek help for a teenage rape victim.  

How to Determine if an Incident Is Considered Rape

Not every case of rape is an obvious one. What if your teen was in a consensual sexual relationship? What if the sexual act was unwanted, but the perpetrator was another minor? What if your teen voluntarily pursued an adult, believing it was “love?”

Keep in mind that the age of consent in California is 18 years old, meaning that people under this age can’t legally agree to any type of sexual activity. Adults or fellow teenagers involved in sexual acts with teenagers can be charged with statutory rape, unlawful sexual intercourse, or lewd and lascivious acts with a child.

When the perpetrator is under 14 years of age, the case will be remanded to the juvenile court system. So-called “Romeo and Juliet” cases of consensual sexual activity between two teens (ages 14-17) can be punishable as a misdemeanor offense in juvenile court. Minors can be sentenced to home probation, sent to a juvenile home, or placed into foster care. Sentences are harsher for larger age gaps. Minors can be sued for financial compensation through their legal guardian in civil court as well.

If the sexual activity took place while the minor was under the care of a mandatory reporter, this person and their employer can be held liable for the crime committed. Schools, churches, youth organizations, camps, and scout groups are common defendants in teenage rape cases.

How to Help Your Teen Cope in the Aftermath of Sexual Assault

Social support from family is one of the biggest factors supporting resilience and a healthy outcome. The fact that you are reading this and seeking ways to help your teenager following trauma increases the likelihood that your child will find some measure of healing.

PTSD is common in at least 50% of rape survivors, and these effects can be life-long. Triggers could cause a worsening of symptoms in the future in ways you may not understand. However, by lending your compassion, supporting your teen through counseling or trauma groups, and helping your child take legal action, you can do everything in your power to support recovery.

Pressing Criminal Charges for Teen Rape

If you decide to press charges against your child’s abuser, criminal penalties for the offender may include: 

  • a prison sentence
  • fines payable to the state
  • probationary periods
  • community service
  • house arrest
  • stripping of professional credentials
  • registration on the state sex offender registry

To initiate criminal proceedings, you must first file a police report with local law enforcement. They will conduct their own investigation and issue a warrant for an arrest if necessary. When there is sufficient evidence to convict “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the District Attorney’s office gets involved to formally press charges.

The case will likely be a matter of the perpetrator vs. The State of California. You will have little say in what punishment is handed down, but the process can be extremely rewarding—particularly if you or your child are worried about this person becoming a risk for stalking, re-victimization, future harm, or preying on other victims.

Pursuing a Civil Case for the Rape of a Minor

Seeking justice through criminal court is not the only avenue. In many instances, it makes sense to pursue a civil case instead of or even in addition to a criminal case. It is not considered double jeopardy because criminal and civil courts are tried separately, under different sets of rules.

A judgment in civil court only requires a “preponderance of the evidence” to prove your case, which means the jury must believe your child’s story is “51% or more likely to be true.” This is a much lower standard of evidence than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which must convince the judge and the jury that the incident occurred. 

Another benefit of civil court is the expanded scope of liability that allows plaintiffs to sue institutions that may have aided, abetted, covered for, or turned a blind eye to child predators. Any organization that works with children owes a duty of care to protect children from abuse. This may include exercising diligence in hiring, training, and retaining staff, as well as promptly reporting known or suspected abuse to the proper authorities.

Judgments in civil cases may include financial charges for:

  • medical expenses
  • lost wages and productivity
  • pain and suffering, including emotional trauma 

Help for Teenage Rape Victims

To initiate civil proceedings, you must contact a civil lawyer who specializes in sexual assault. Lewis & Llewellyn offers free, no-obligation consultations out of our San Francisco office. Should we take your case, you owe no money upfront and only pay a standard legal fee upon the successful resolution of your case through settlement or jury award. There is no harm in exploring your full set of legal options. In addition to investigating, filing court paperwork, and representing your interests in court, we can also help connect your teen with local support services to aid in acute trauma healing and long-term recovery.

If you are a parent seeking help for a teenage rape victim, the attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn may be able to help. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you and your child through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

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.

forced to have sex

What to Do if I Was Forced to Have Sex?

By Blog

If you were forced to have sex against your will, it is considered rape and against the law. California’s rape law is codified in Penal Code §261, which makes sex illegal when it is initiated through force, fear, threats, or duress. If a date, partner, coworker, acquaintance, or stranger forces you to have sex against your will, you can press criminal charges against that person for crimes committed against “the state of California.”  

Forced sex on a larger, more orchestrated scale is known as sexual slavery or sex trafficking—one of many forms of abuse endured by victims of human trafficking. In these cases, you can hold the offender liable in civil court, as well as anyone who knew or should have known about the sexual abuse. 

Regardless of how long ago you were forced to have sex, time doesn’t erase what happened. This article will discuss how to seek justice and what your legal options may be. 

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global industry. It involves controlling a person or group through force, fraud, or coercion to exploit them for forced labor, sexual acts, or both. In a 2017 report, the International Labor Organization estimated that there were more than 24.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide. This included 16 million victims of labor exploitation, 4.8 million victims of sexual exploitation, and 4.1 million victims of state-imposed forced labor. 

California—a populous border state with a significant immigrant population and the world’s fifth-largest economy—is one of the nation’s top destination states for human trafficking. San Francisco, in particular, has been noted as a hub for human trafficking. As much as 80% of the sex trafficking business can be found in Orange County. International Boulevard in Oakland is well-known across the nation as a hot spot for child sex slaves. This past January, a man and three women were arrested for sex trafficking and running a brothel in San Jose.

State authorities have vowed to make violent crime their top priority. Newly released crime data shows that:

  • Violent crimes dropped 6% from 2018-2019. 
  • Homicides went down 11% with 41 murders—the lowest rate in almost 60 years. 
  • Rapes were down 15% and sex trafficking fell 57%. 

Whether this is a true indication of a decrease in crime or a lack of reporting remains to be seen.

One of the most important ways to end sex trafficking is to hold institutions accountable for aiding abusers who hide in plain sight.

How to Seek Justice Against Forcible Intercourse

There are two ways for survivors of forced sex to pursue justice through the legal system:

Press criminal charges: You may contact local law enforcement to file a police report. After a police investigation, the officer handling your case may contact the district attorney who can then decide to press criminal charges. If the evidence is compelling beyond a reasonable doubt, then the offender can receive jail time, probation, fines payable to the state, and mandatory registration as a state sex offender.

File a civil lawsuit: You may also contact a civil lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced attorney will thoroughly investigate your claim and identify any responsible parties allowable in the civil courts’ expanded scope of liability. If the lawsuit succeeds based on a preponderance of the evidence, survivors of sexual abuse can receive compensation for medical bills, counseling, pain and suffering, and other losses related to the abuse.

I Was Forced to Have Sex: Who Can Be Held Liable?

Third parties that fail to act are often held responsible in cases of forced sex. These may include:

  • Hotels: Hotels are a major enabler of sex trafficking. According to The Polaris Project, 75% of sex-trafficking survivors were exploited in hotels at some point. Despite obvious signs—like extended stays, payments in cash, trash cans filled with condoms, empty bottles of lubricant littering the rooms, and lines of men waiting outside the door—94% of the victims never received any help or concern from hotel staff. In fact, one teenage victim was reportedly told by hotel staff to “keep it down” after she was raped.
  • School districts: Often schools are the first opportunity for the identification of sexual exploitation. Educators are trained as mandatory reporters to identify and prevent human trafficking. California schools have reported suspicions that children in lower grades were having inappropriate relationships with adults and strangers, as well as high school students they believe were forced into prostitution over the weekends and return to school on Mondays. In some cases, the perpetrators were educators, coaches, and fathers of students in the school.
  • Websites: When the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA)—also known as FOSTA-SESTA—took effect on April 11, 2018, it was championed as a great leap forward in tackling the problem of sex trafficking by amending section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and expanding prosecutorial power over online platforms (like Craigslist, Snapchat, Facebook, and Tumblr) that turn a blind eye to sexual exploitation. In turn, these websites removed their adult services sections. However, there were unintended consequences. Less than a year later, San Francisco investigations into sex trafficking skyrocketed 170%, while other types of violent crime went down, and law enforcement officials said the law has made it harder for them to investigate the now-largely-underground activity. 
  • Photo developers: California is one of 12 states that require police notification within 36 hours if a photo technician discovers pictures depicting possible child abuse or sexual exploitation. In fact, film dropped off at a CVS in Redondo Beach led to the arrest of a former elementary school teacher involved in the sexual exploitation of at least 23 children.
  • Doctors, psychiatrists, and pharmaceutical workers: Medical professionals are specially trained to identify sex trafficking survivors and have a legal duty as mandatory reporters to contact the police regarding their suspicions. The case of Doe vs. Dabbagh established that a pharmacy and psychiatrist can be held liable for prescribing powerful sedatives that aid in forced prostitution. 
  • Airports, banks, bars, casinos, concert venues, nightclubs, restaurants, rideshares, sports arenas, and truck stops: Anyone who serves sex traffickers and their clientele can be held responsible for profiting off criminal activities taking place on their properties. Civil lawyers need only prove “they should have known” in order to secure a recovery.
  • Child welfare or foster care agency: The California Child Welfare Council estimates that between 50% and 80% of commercially sexually exploited children in California are or were formally involved with the child welfare system. Like doctors, child welfare and foster care agents are specially trained to identify signs of sexual exploitation and are legally mandated to report any known or suspected cases of child abuse. Failure to do so could open them up to liability in a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact Sexual Assault Lawyers in San Francisco For Help

If you were forced to have sex against your will, even if it only happened once, you deserve to seek justice—no matter how long ago it happened. If you’ve been a victim of human trafficking, working with an attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases can provide you with the legal expertise you need to hold all parties involved liable for personal damages you’ve suffered as a result of the abuse. 

The experienced attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn, a boutique law firm in San Fransisco, specialize in sex abuse and trafficking cases. We’re not afraid to go up against school districts, churches, hotels, and other third parties. We have the knowledge, experience, and winning track record to bolster our confidence. Our team provides comprehensive, compassionate care. We can help refer you to a local support network to facilitate your recovery and healing. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

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.

reporting sexual misconduct

Identifying and Reporting Sexual Misconduct Could Prevent Further Assault

By Blog

A touch on the knee, an awkward hug, persistent leering, crude comments; it is likely that many have witnessed or personally experienced some form of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Those who’ve experienced sexual misconduct may feel uncomfortable or shrug off the incident, but ignoring these actions could give offenders the chance to cross the line from “inappropriate” to “harassment” or even assault when their advances have no consequences.

Breaking the culture of silence and reporting sexual misconduct is the only way to change the workplace culture so that everyone feels safe, respected, and able to perform their duties. Speaking up may be a challenge, particularly when the person committing the offense is a superior or friendly with upper management. 

If you’re considering taking action about sexual misconduct in your workplace—whether you or a colleague were the target—you should consult an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options.      

Identifying Sexual Misconduct

Much confusion exists on what constitutes sexual harassment and misconduct. One survey found gaps in understanding based on age, gender, and experience. Among their findings:

  • A majority of men thought looking at a colleague’s private parts or asking for sexual favors isn’t always harassment, while two-thirds of women say it is.
  • Two-thirds of employees age 65 and older said asking for sexual favors is harassment, compared to half of 18-29 year-olds.
  • Nearly a third of women said sexual jokes are harassment; 17% of men agreed.
  • One in 20 women and one in 30 men interpreted asking a colleague to lunch is harassment.
  • “Persisting in unwanted behavior” is a type of harassment a majority of men recognized.

Federal law defines sexual misconduct in the workplace as “unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature, committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation.” In the eyes of the law, sexual misconduct is a form of employee discrimination.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act describes two types of sexual misconduct:

  1. Quid pro quo harassment:
  • asking or offering sexual favors in exchange for advancement or promotions
  • making employment conditional on sexual favors or welcoming sexual advances
  1. Hostile work environment:
  • sharing offensive, sexual images or text
  • making compliments, comments, or jokes about a person’s body
  • sexual name-calling, cat-calling, or suggestions
  • discussing fantasies, desires, or sexual experiences with coworkers.
  • spreading sexual rumors.
  • giving unwanted gifts
  • unwanted touching, groping, or grazing past a private part
  • persistent staring
  • repeatedly asking for a date, despite rejection

The Effects of Sexual Misconduct 

While not always physical, sexual misconduct can have serious repercussions. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a third of women surveyed had experienced both sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. These women were three times more likely to suffer from depression, over two times more likely to report high anxiety and insomnia, and twice as likely to have high blood pressure.

Other effects of sexual harassment may include:

  • Low self-esteem: Sexual harassment is all about power. The objectified tend to have lesser rank or income than the offenders – an imbalance that leads to low self-image.
  • Social isolation: Targets often feel dirty or ashamed. Depression or social anxiety can cause them to withdraw from family, friends, and coworkers, which deepens the effects.
  • Eating disorders: People cope with stress in all different ways. Some overeat or stop eating in an unconscious attempt to exert greater control over their lives.
  • Cortisol dysregulation: Surging stress hormones not only leads to anxiety, but increases inflammation levels throughout the body, lowering immunity and increasing the
  • Financial trouble: Women who have been sexually harassed are more likely to face financial burdens and homelessness.
  • PTSD: Memories of unpleasant sexual experiences can become deeply entrenched in the mind, interfering with relationships, driving anxiety, and intruding into daily living. 

Reporting Sexual Misconduct

Reporting sexual misconduct is a step in the right direction. Continued activism is necessary to put public pressure on employers to change their internal policies and practices to better address this important issue.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles incidents of sexual misconduct in the workplace. They will investigate and arrange mediation or notify you of your right to sue in civil court. When filing a claim of sexual misconduct, employees should be prepared for the response of their employer.

One study found that more than half of employers (64%) fire the person who reported to the EEOC. Another 4% of employers retaliated with reduced work hours or a demotion. In 12% of cases, sexual misconduct charges led to a managerial agreement to fundamentally change workplace practices and create a more favorable culture.

Despite these actions, employers are technically prohibited from retaliating against those who report sexual misconduct. They may not fire, demote, sanction, or harass you. If you feel you have been retaliated against, let the EEOC investigator or your lawyer know, so they can add the charge to your case.

There is also a financial incentive for victims of sexual misconduct to see their grievances through to civil court. Of those who report, an estimated 23% receive monetary compensation. The average award is $24,700, but some cases exceed over $100,000.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

When considering reporting sexual misconduct, be sure to have detailed records of when, where, and how the misconduct occurred. If you feel unsafe, threatened, or notice an escalation, don’t hesitate to file a claim and contact a lawyer right away. Reporting incidents of sexual misconduct could prevent further assault. 

If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual misconduct that led to sexual assault, the attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn may be able to help. If you reported the incident to management and they failed to take proper action, they may be held liable for enabling the assault. Contact us today for more information regarding reporting sexual misconduct, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to set up a free initial consultation.

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.

my family doesn’t believe I was molested

What to Do if My Family Doesn’t Believe I Was Molested?

By Blog

With 93% of perpetrators being known by the child and their family, it’s likely that when childhood molestation is reported, it’s difficult to believe. This may leave many childhood victims wondering: “What to do if my family doesn’t believe I was molested?”

Regardless of whether your family believes you or not, if you were molested as a child, you have the right to seek justice. This article will discuss your legal options should you decide to press criminal charges, file a civil lawsuit, or both.    

Reasons Family Members May Not Believe a Claim of Molestation 

Molestation is often kept a secret if the affected child fears no one will believe them. Children may fear the repercussions of speaking up and disrupting the family dynamic. Re-victimization may occur if family members don’t believe the survivor and react harshly to the news.

There are many other reasons why your family may seemingly not believe you:

  • Shock: Child molesters can be priests, teachers, coaches, doctors, neighbors, and other respected members of the community. In 34% of cases, child sexual abuse occurs within the family. Oftentimes perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse are trusted so it may come as a shock that they could do anything to harm a child.
  • Guilt: Molestation typically occurs when a child is left alone with the perpetrator. Upon hearing about an incident, the person who left the child alone may not welcome the responsibility and self-guilt that often follows. They may need to seek counseling themselves.
  • Lack of Evidence: Many times, parents of an abused child will confront the accused. Usually, perpetrators deny the allegations. Some people find stories of abuse impossible to believe because they didn’t witness it or have a feeling that something was going on.
  • Dependency: Physical, emotional, or financial dependence on the perpetrator can complicate matters. For example, a parent my side with their spouse—despite allegations—to maintain their relationship and financial status.
  • Fear of Consequence: Some adults may worry that the spotlight on child abuse may cause a separation within their family. They may fear what others in the community will think of them once the story is out, feeling that they allowed the abuse to occur.

If My Family Doesn’t Believe I Was Molested, Should I Still Seek Justice?

Ultimately, it is your decision to pursue legal action. It’s often better for survivors to disclose incidents of childhood molestation and seek justice rather than to continue bearing the burden alone.

Here’s why:

Not telling your story may make you feel more alone. Sexual abuse is a crime that perpetuates social isolation and feelings of loneliness. Your family’s disbelief may have only made you feel worse and more alone. Not telling your story or pursuing justice tends to perpetuate shame and confusion long after the abuse has ended.

The social stigma for survivors is changing. In the past, victims of sexual abuse were often shamed into secrecy or given a shorter time limit to come forward. However, in the #MeToo Era, the prevalence of sexual assault in our society and research supports the validity of many of these claims. Even if your family doesn’t believe you for their own personal reasons, the authorities and support services providers should be able to assist you.

Current legislation makes it possible. Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) increases the time limit for pursuing litigation to obtain a recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault to 22 years from the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority. It also extends the rule of delayed discovery to within five years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by sexual assault. AB 218 also allows for a window of three years for the revival of past claims that might have expired due to the statute of limitations. In cases where a child becomes a victim of sexual assault as the result of an effort to cover up past assaults, AB 218 allows a court to award recovery of treble damages against the defendant who engaged in the cover-up

Family testimony isn’t necessary in court. There are many different types of evidence. While helpful, physical evidence or corroboration from your family members isn’t needed to prove your case. You may decide to testify on your own behalf or to have your pre-recorded statement shared with the judge and jury. 

The investigation may sway opinions. Sometimes it can be difficult to articulate what happened, when it happened, and how it happened—especially when the abuse took place years ago. Lawyers can take a deeper look into the circumstances and find supporting evidence to corroborate your story. Family members may change their minds once the facts are presented by an attorney.

You may not be able to make your family believe you, but you can effect change. Your family may never come to grips with what happened to you, but a successful verdict could hold institutions liable for protecting known sex offenders. You have the power to prevent similar abuse from happening to others.

Legal Options for Victims of Child Molestation

Survivors of childhood molestation have two general options in the pursuit of justice:

Press criminal charges: To press charges, you will need to contact the police to file a report. After a preliminary investigation is conducted, they may forward your case to the district attorney’s office for review. If the D.A. thinks you have a case, they will agree to press charges to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. Prosecutors must prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The end result could mean jail time for the offender, fines paid to the state, and registration on the state sex offender list.

File a civil lawsuit: To file a lawsuit, you should contact an attorney specializing in sexual abuse cases. A civil lawsuit allows for an expanded scope of liability, meaning you might be suing a church diocese, school district, athletic organization, or another third party in addition to the offender. California’s mandated reporter law requires anyone who works with children to report known or suspected abuse. In civil court, attorneys must prove the case was 51% or more likely to be true based on a “preponderance of the evidence.” The end result could be thousands, or millions, of dollars paid to support the costs of your recovery.

These legal avenues are not mutually exclusive—meaning you may pursue both courses of action at the same time if the facts surrounding your case warrant it and you have not surpassed the state’s statute of limitations.  

San Francisco Sexual Abuse Attorneys Can Help

If you were molested as a child and your family doesn’t believe you, you can still pursue litigation. The experienced sexual abuse attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn in San Francisco know that the process of coming forward can be made much more difficult when family members refuse to acknowledge what has happened. However, seeking a support network through a law firm, a sexual assault therapist, and local survivors’ groups can help you through recovery. 

At Lewis & Llewellyn, we seek to effect real change in the lives of those impacted by sexual assault. You deserve to have a compassionate advocate who believes you and will navigate the damages you may have suffered as a result of molestation. We can’t promise you’ll receive a specific amount of money, but we can guarantee the best legal remedy from our team of experienced California sexual assault attorneys. Contact us today, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to set up a free initial consultation.

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.

child sexual abuse lawsuit

Can I File a Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against the Perpetrator?

By Blog

Lawsuits against perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse can be pursued—even if the incident(s) happened years ago—thanks to legislation like Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218). Many survivors may never consider filing a child sexual abuse lawsuit against the perpetrator for various reasons. They may see no point in coming forward and seeking justice for abuse that happened so long ago. 

If you’ve had doubts, it is important to know that there is still a chance to seek justice for abuse that took place in the past. This blog post will answer some of the most common questions about how compensation is sought in child sexual abuse cases, particularly when it is feared the perpetrator may not have assets to pursue.   

Can Compensation Be Recovered in a Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit? 

Often in cases of child sexual abuse, there are defendants like school districts, church dioceses, athletic associations, or employers. The expanded scope of liability in civil court and California’s mandated reporter law make it possible to hold these third-party entities responsible for compensating victims’ losses. There are several benefits to suing institutions for enabling child sexual abuse, including the fact that institutions tend to be well-funded—whether through the collection of dues, the holding of assets, or insurance policies. Oftentimes in child sexual abuse lawsuits, enough money is recovered to cover a victim’s past, present, and future losses.

Healing from childhood sexual abuse can be a lifelong process. Some days you might need to take a personal day off work. Maybe you find you can’t work at all. You may find a therapist you love working with and wish to continue regular sessions. You may have contracted a disease or become pregnant as a result of the abuse. Perhaps you wish to relocate and start life anew, where no one knows your backstory. No matter the case, the aim of a child sexual abuse lawsuit is to provide you with compensation for any out-of-pocket expenses or less tangible losses you have endured as a result of the abuse.  

Who Should I Sue for Childhood Sexual Abuse?

It is possible to name multiple defendants in a civil lawsuit. This means that you aren’t limited to suing an institution; the single perpetrator can also be required to compensate you.

When measuring harm in a case of sexual abuse, the costs of healthcare, seeking justice, child welfare, special education, and productivity losses should be considered. Further expenses may include mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling, and loss of wages. Settlements and judgments can reach into the millions of dollars in these cases, so it is important to ensure that the guilty party (or parties) is able to pay what they owe, whether the defendant is a perpetrator, an entity, or both.

If the perpetrator has assets, your attorney will likely go after those to cover personal damages.

The State of California allows the collection of assets, such as:

  • motor vehicles possessed in the defendant’s name
  • the defendant’s ability to renew a driver’s license
  • 25% of the defendant’s net earnings after taxes
  • cash earned through the defendant’s business(es)
  • land, buildings, or properties owned in the defendant’s name

Depending on the case, you may have up to 10 years to enforce a judgment on a particular individual. If you are unclear on how to proceed, it’s best to speak with an expert to determine the deadlines for your specific case.   

What if the Abuser Has No Money to Pay Damages?

Sexual abusers may fall into the category of a family member, family friend, or neighbor. In these types of cases, there may not be a third-party entity to hold liable but there is one way to collect a judgment: a renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy. Under these policies, a sexual abuse incident is treated like a physical injury caused by the defendant. In some cases, a homeowner’s insurance policy can cover a spouse or child living in the home who has committed sexual abuse as well. 

Insurance policies are complex. Some have requirements that extend coverage to “accidents” and exclude “intentional acts,” so it requires an understanding of business law and a careful combing of the policy to look for viable means for seeking compensation. 

Contact San Francisco Attorneys to File a Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Whether you are an adult victim or the parent of a victimized child, the aftermath of child 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.

The attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn in San Francisco have the experience, grit, and compassion to help you obtain justice and maximum compensation. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today.

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.

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