Los Angeles Sexual Assault Lawyer
The sexual abuse of a child is the most devastating act known to humankind. Victims of underage sexual abuse suffer years of unresolved pain and psychological trauma. Often, this type of abuse leads to a lifetime of depression, guilt, anxiety, the inability to form lasting adult relationships, the inability to gain lasting employment and sexual dysfunction. If you suffered sexual abuse as a minor, it is important to understand these three truths:
- IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT
- YOU ARE NOT ALONE, and
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO JUSTICE
Craig Charles Law realizes victims often try to bury the abuse for years, hoping it will go away. Our experience has shown that burying the issue does not help. Real emotional growth comes in dealing with the injustice head-on. This includes intense psychological help from a mental health professional. Immense healing also comes in the form of standing up to the abuser. The Law Office of Craig Charles takes great pride in helping victims through this process and we find that real change occurs when a victim feels vindicated after carrying guilt and shame on their back for years.
Fortunately, California law recognizes that underage sex abuse victims often take years to come forward. As such, the California statute of limitations has been extended in underage sex abuse claims. Underage sex abuse victims now have until their 40th birthday to file a civil claim against their abusers. Additionally, if the abuse is discovered through therapy after the age of 41, a victim has 5 additional years to bring a claim if a therapist provides a certificate stating why the abuse could not have been discovered earlier.
In addition to the abuser, if you suffered sexual abuse while under the care or supervision of any of the following, the organization may also be responsible for failing to protect you from harm.
- Schools and school districts
- Athletic organizations
- Boy Scouts
- Churches and religious organizations
- Summer camps
- Youth organizations
Sexual Assault Defined
Understanding the Various Categories of Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a broad category that covers a variety of criminal acts, including rape, sodomy, or any sexual contact that is unwanted. If sexual contact is forced upon someone using threats or coercion, or contact was made after the victim refused to give consent, a sexual assault has likely occurred.
Rape is more narrowly defined as sexual intercourse that occurs without consent. It may involve a stranger, an acquaintance, a partner or a spouse. Rapes not only include situations where a victim was physically threatened or harmed, but also situations where a victim was unable to give consent because of intoxication, cognitive impairment, disability or not being of proper age (statutory rape).
Acts that involve things such as unwanted comments or attention of a sexual nature are generally considered sexual harassment. These situations, which often occur in the workplace, may not rise to the level of assault and therefore are often litigated in civil court. However, harassment may rise to the level of assault, especially if a physical component is present.
Another category, sexual misconduct, is often applied in situations such as stalking, sexual exploitation, violence or misconduct that occurs while dating, domestic violence or public displays of sexual behavior.
Next Steps for Sexual Assault Survivors
How to Proceed if You Are a Survivor -- and Why Time is of the Essence
If you or a loved one are a victim of sexual abuse, it’s critically important that you know the right steps to take. First, seek medical attention and ensure that your health is protected. Medical records can document any injuries you have sustained and provide crucial evidence to support a claim of sexual assault.
The next step is often the most difficult: Reporting the attack. Sexual abuse survivors often deal with feelings of guilt or shame. They may also wish to avoid reliving the experience. However, going public with an accusation is an act of bravery that helps ensure that a survivor receives justice and helps protect others from being victimized by their attacker. Contacting law enforcement or a sexual abuse counseling center is a first step toward recovery.
Finally, contacting an attorney who is experienced in sexual assault litigation can help ensure that you are compensated for things such as lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of consortium.
However, it is imperative to move quickly. Under California law, there is no statute of limitations for criminal cases such as these, but civil actions must be filed promptly. For example, if you are a survivor of childhood sexual assault, you must file before the age of 40, or within five years of discovering the act.
Craig Charles Law has vast experience handling underage sex abuse claims. If you or your child has been abused, it is imperative to hire seasoned, qualified counsel. We have assisted many clients in achieving justice against their abusers and are equipped to fight zealously against large, powerful organizations. If you or a loved one was the victim of underage sexual abuse, give our office a call for a free, confidential consultation.