Los Angeles Sexual Assault Attorney
Sexual assault, harassment, and rape should never be tolerated or explained away. Strong Advocates fights hard to get exceptional results for survivors who have been forced to endure sexual assault. As a plaintiff-only law office, we will never represent abusers.
Sadly, if you have been a victim of sexual assault, you are not alone. In fact, every 98 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Thanks to the growing #MeToo movement and sheer courage, sexual assault victims are coming forward in record numbers, seeking justice for themselves and helping to make sure the perpetrators do not victimize others.
What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault, broadly defined, is any nonconsensual, sexually offensive touching. Sexual assault is both a criminal and a civil offense. In a civil lawsuit in California, sexual assault may include the following:
- Touching of private parts, whether under or over clothing
- Forced penetration
- Forced oral sex
- Use of date rape drugs to engage in sexual acts
- Sexual acts performed on someone who is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs or who is asleep
- Sex with someone under the age of 18.
What to Do If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted
If you have been a victim of sexual assault, the first thing you should do is to make sure you are in a safe place. If you are not, immediately call the police or 911. It can be difficult to know what to do or how to feel at this time. Know that it is not your fault. You are not alone.
You can also reach out to a national hotline to get prompt assistance for you to connect with a local sexual assault service provider. One such hotline is the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
Learn more about your rights if you have been sexually assaulted at work.
You should also reach out to an effective and empathetic attorney like Betsy Havens at Strong Advocates, who can help you understand and navigate your legal options. Strong Advocates will fight hard to help you get the care and justice you deserve. Our consultations are always free, informative and empowering.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Assault
Civil lawsuits provide sexual assault survivors the opportunity to stand up for their rights and dignity. Strong Advocates clients have collected enormous monetary damages against their attacker or, if the attacker is a coworker, from their employer. Pursuing civil charges has helped many of our clients regain their power and hope in situations in which they felt powerless and hopeless.
Regardless of whether the local district attorney files criminal charges against the attacker, there are several reasons why a victim of sexual assault may consider filing a civil lawsuit. First, in a civil proceeding, the client makes the decisions whether to prosecute, settle or stop a case, supported at all times by their own lawyer. In a criminal case, the police and prosecutor make all the decisions, and the victim is their witness.
Second, in a civil case, a victim of sexual assault may be able to obtain massive monetary damages for the pain and suffering, lost wages and other losses they have acquired as a result of the assault. Our clients have walked away with significant money including one client who received over $2 million in a settlement for their case. In the employment context, the employer may be held liable and may be subject to significant financial damages.
Third, the burden of proof is lower in civil litigation. While a criminal prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the victim in a civil proceeding can prevail by proving a preponderance (meaning a simple majority) of the evidence that a sexual assault occurred — a much easier standard to meet.
Strong Advocates Will Help Build The Team You Need
Strong Advocates prioritizes our clients’ health and well-being. That’s why we help our clients to assemble the supportive team they need for healing and transformation. Having an excellent attorney and a skilled, experienced therapist are absolutely essential to our clients’ team. Our clients find legal action to be very empowering and transformative, but it is not always “easy.” Working with a skilled therapist helps clients to navigate any anxiety or fear they may have during the process. A trained therapist may also be an essential part of resolving the case. Because therapists are not always familiar with civil litigation, Strong Advocates often work closely with therapists to educate our clients’ therapists on the the positive and transformative impact that civil litigation can have on people’s lives after sexual assault.
Attorneys and therapists working together, Strong Advocates
Statute of limitations
Statutes of limitations can vary depending on the particular facts of the case. Unless the victim is a minor, civil lawsuits based on sexual assault must be filed within either (1) ten years from the date of the last assault or attempted sexual assault by the defendant against the plaintiff, or (2) within three years from the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered the sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, whichever is later.
The governing statute, California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.16 went into law on January 1, 2019. If you were sexually assaulted before that date, you may only have three years from the date of the sexual assault to file a claim.
For claims against employers, as of January 1, 2020, employees with FEHA claims must file administrative charges with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within three years of the aggrieved conduct. For sexual assault at the workplace that occurred before January 1, 2020, individuals have 12 months from the last date of sexual assault/harassment, discrimination, or retaliation to file a DFEH complaint.
As of January 2020, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have until they are 40 years old (or 5 years from the discovery of the abuse) to file a civil lawsuit in California. The newly updated law also provides for a three year window (from 2020 to 2023) to revive claims that were originally barred because of the statute of limitations.