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15 States Extend Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse from Clergy Members

Damages Could Top $4 Billion

For years, the statutes of limitations on sexual abuse and on rape has prevented many people from seeking compensation after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic Church official. But not anymore.

Fifteen states—including New York, California, and New Jersey—have passed resolutions allowing victims to file sexual abuse claims against members of the clergy even when the abuse occurred many years ago. The resulting lawsuits are expected to result in judgments and settlements of $4 billion.

Starting the Investigation

A Pennsylvania grand jury report indicated that approximately 300 priests across the state abused more than 1,000 children during multiple decades. That, in turn, resulted in the Illinois Attorney General to commission its own highly critical report. Illinois has since removed the statute of limitations involving sex crimes against children, and more recently removed the statute of limitations for sex crimes against adults. However, please note that there is still a civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases in Illinois.

Unfortunately, many of those children no longer had the right to file personal injury claims against their abusers or against the church that allowed it to happen. Thanks to new changes in the law, however, those individuals, who have suffered in silence for so long, now have the right to come forward with their claims.

The Potential Ramifications

In California, New York, and New Jersey alone—states with heavy Catholic populations—could see payouts ranging from $1.8 billion to $6 billion. As the flood of lawsuits continues to come in, many attorneys are opening their doors and offering advice and assistance to aid victims who want to seek compensation for their suffering. For victims, that can mean many things.

  • Victims can receive compensation for the abuse they suffered as children. Financial compensation cannot erase abuse or the effects of that abuse suffered over the victim’s lifetime. It can, however, provide those victims with some compensation. Some victims may use that compensation to seek mental health assistance to recover from that abuse. Others may choose to use the compensation to build brighter lives and futures for themselves, bringing something good out of the tragedy that they suffered as children.
  • Victims can speak out about what happened to them. As children, victims might have feared speaking out or felt that they had no voice. As adults, however, victims can speak out and share their stories. Many people find it cathartic to share what happened to them. Others may want to work to create better standards that can prevent future abuse. By speaking out, many victims can help pave the way to prevent future abuse and protect other children from suffering what they went through.

What Happens if You, as a Former Victim, File a Claim?

If you suffered sexual abuse from a member of the clergy as a child, you have a limited amount of time to file a claim—in California, the window remains open for three years, while in New Jersey, the window ends after just two years. This process will involve several key steps, which are discussed in further detail below. A lawyer in your state can help you determine how much time you have to file a claim.

Step One: Consult an Attorney

Filing a claim for sexual abuse that occurred during your childhood does not have to be done through an attorney. Having an attorney on your side, however, can offer many advantages. An attorney has your interests at heart throughout the process, focusing on ensuring that you get what you need from the process and that your needs receive the respect you deserve. Often, working with an attorney can also significantly increase the compensation you receive from your claim.

Step Two: Review Any Evidence or Impact of the Abuse

In the case of decades-old claims, collecting evidence can prove extremely difficult. Consult with an experienced attorney to learn more about what evidence you may still find. Your testimony can help provide the background needed to establish the abuse you faced as a child. You may also discuss with your attorney what impacts that sexual abuse had on the later years of your life, including:

15 States Extend Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse from Clergy Members Abels and Annes Law

  • Depression, including ongoing depression throughout your life
  • Flashbacks
  • PTSD
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • STDs
  • Eating disorders
  • Struggle with insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Disassociation

Step Three: File a Claim

While you have the right to file a claim yourself, having an attorney on your side can make it much easier to handle a legal claim against the Catholic Church. An attorney can help put together your full claim and file a demand for reparation for the suffering that you faced as a result of the sexual abuse.

Step Four: Negotiate

How long it takes to receive compensation for the abuse you suffered as a child—and how long you have to deal with the legal process—will depend on your willingness to negotiate. In many cases, the responsible party—in this case, the Catholic Church—will come back with a settlement offer lower than your original demand. You can accept that offer or continue to fight to secure compensation for the full cost of your injuries.

If you cannot reach an agreement through negotiation with the help of your attorney, you may move on to mediation, during which a judge or former judge will act as a mediator to help you and the Church reach a resolution. In many cases, you can achieve a satisfactory resolution by working with a mediator.

When a mediator cannot help you reach a satisfactory agreement, you may choose to take your claim to court. If you take your claim to court, you will have the opportunity to share your story, explaining how the sexual abuse you suffered at the hands of the Church as a child has impacted you throughout your life.

Over the years our law firm has achieved our best results with litigation in court. Please note that when a lawsuit is filed, we used a pseudonym and your identity remains confidential by court order.

Did You Suffer Abuse at the Hands of the Catholic Church?

If you suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic church as a child, you should act now to seek the compensation you deserve for that abuse and its long-term impact on your life. Sexual abuse leaves many victims filled with shame, or it may cause them to struggle when they establish sexual relationships later in their lives.

If you suffered sexual abuse, contact an attorney as soon as possible to start the process of filing your claim before the window for filing that claim closes.


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Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

What Kind of Attorney Handles Sexual Abuse Cases?

Sexual abuse is an enormous problem in our society. For survivors, sexual abuse is a traumatic experience. For so long, there has been a culture of silence around these issues. Because sexual abuse is such a difficult topic, people who have been the victims of sexual abuse often feel invisible.

There are approximately 293,000 incidents of sexual abuse in the United States each year. However, 68 percent of these attacks go unreported to the police. According to statistics from the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), “every 92 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 9 minutes, that victim is a child.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually abused before the age of 18.”

What Is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse refers to illegal or coerced sexual actions committed against another person. In addition to physical contact, sexual abuse can take many forms, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children. It often occurs in situations when someone in a position of authority takes advantage of a person in their care. Cases of sexual abuse happen in a variety of situations, including:

  • Churches
  • Schools, school buses and daycare facilities
  • Organized recreational activities for children (the Boy Scouts, for example)
  • Foster care homes or facilities
  • Mental health facilities
  • Medical and nursing home facilities
  • In other facilities or even at home where a vulnerable person relies on care from others

Sexual abuse and assault are crimes punishable under state and federal law. But even if the perpetrator is found guilty and imprisoned, the victim is often left with the pain and emotional trauma from the assault. How does a survivor begin to rebuild their life?

Long-Term Effects of Sexual Abuse

A recent study on the long-term effects of sexual abuse found that there is an association between sexual abuse and subsequent health problems. Victims are at higher risk for anxiety and depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide. Survivors also suffered from poor sleep quality. And many are reluctant to talk about their experiences because they feel embarrassed or fear that others will not believe them. Remaining silent tends to intensify the effects on their health.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse suffer high levels of depression and anxiety. They may also suffer from eating disorders, as well as sexual and relationship problems. Survivors may be unable to externalize the abuse, which results in guilt, shame, and self-blame.

Given these prevalent health issues amongst assault survivors, those who have suffered sexual abuse need the resources to obtain the help they need.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Based on Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault survivors often face overwhelming personal and financial burdens. Even if the offender is convicted and punishment is meted out through the criminal law system, a sexual abuse victim can file a civil lawsuit and obtain damages for the harm they suffered against any responsible parties. Sexual abuse is a form of personal injury.

In civil court, only part of the case is focused on the perpetrator’s actions. A major part of a case is focused on the survivor’s injuries that resulted from the sexual abuse and other defendants that are at fault, such as a church that knew of a priest’s ongoing inappropriate behavior and failed to act. If the court finds the defendants liable, then the court may order them to pay the victim or their family compensation for those injuries.

In Illinois, a victim’s identity typically is protected by a confidentiality order. Civil lawsuits filed because of sexual abuse often rest on three inter-related legal theories:

  • Assault – Which may include an act or statement that puts the victim in fear of imminent physical harm.
  • Battery – The actual infliction of physical harm. This includes touching someone else in an offensive or harmful manner.
  • Infliction of emotional distress.

These causes of action are considered intentional torts, not acts of negligence.

Compensation

The amount and type of compensation that a survivor of sexual abuse receives depend on the facts of the case. However, compensation is generally based on the physical and emotional harm the survivor has suffered and will continue to suffer because of the abuse. These injuries may be extensive and affect the survivor’s quality of life for years to come. A court may award the survivor financial compensation to pay medical expenses, therapy, counseling, lost wages, and other economic losses. A survivor may also find that receiving compensation is a way of achieving some degree of personal justice.

Other Parties May Be Liable for Sexual Assault

In addition to the perpetrator, in some cases, a civil suit can be filed against any organizations, people, or institutions that may have enabled the abuse. Therefore, the survivor may be able to file a lawsuit against a school, church, business, or other entity for negligent supervision or failure to provide proper security.

Filing Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Assault

A sexual assault survivor who wishes to file a civil lawsuit should seek out a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in sexual abuse cases. Filing a civil lawsuit over a sexual assault is complex. It involves meticulously gathering and preserving evidence before trial, courtroom skills, and in most cases, negotiating a settlement.

However, the burden of proof is lower in a civil case than in a criminal one. Criminal cases use the standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The burden of proof in civil suits is the preponderance of the evidence, which is less stringent. This civil burden of proof requires that the plaintiff (the survivor) to prove that their version of the events is more likely than not how things actually happened. If the perpetrator was convicted in a criminal case, you could have a good chance of prevailing in your civil lawsuit.

Many states have time limits, called statutes of limitations, for filing a lawsuit. Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to review your case as soon as possible to avoid missing this important deadline.

Sex Abuse Case Filed Against City of Chicago and Former Chicago PD Officer

Abels & Annes P.C., working with co-counsel, has filed a sex abuse lawsuit against the City of Chicago and former Chicago Police Department officer William Whitley. The lawsuit alleges that Whitley exploited his position as a Chicago police officer to sexually abuse a 14-year-old girl and that the City of Chicago facilitated the abuse by failing to investigate, discipline, and otherwise hold police officers accountable for misconduct. Whitley was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for paying the 14-year-old and three other minors for sex between 2012 and 2016.

At the time of his crimes, there were at least 29 complaints lodged against Whitley by civilian and/or internal affairs agencies. He should long before have been removed from his position of public trust. But Whitley benefited from the City’s long-running pattern and practice of letting police officers get away with flagrant misconduct, and from the code of silence that inhibits police officers and others from speaking up about abuses. A federal government investigation recently reported that “numerous entrenched, systemic policies and practices … undermine police accountability” in Chicago, especially the code of silence that the “City, police officers, and leadership within CPD and its police officer union” all acknowledge that a code of silence exists.

Our lawsuit against the city and Whitley alleges that it was just this pattern and practice of turning a blind eye to police misconduct that fueled Whitley’s crimes. Had the city enforced policies and procedures designed to prevent police abuses, Whitley would not have had the opportunity to prey on innocent victims.

Civil rights laws permit victims of sexual abuse to seek compensation not just from an abuser who cloaked himself with official authority, but also from government institutions that allowed the abuse to occur through an official or de facto custom, policy, or practice.

The disturbing facts alleged about Whitley’s crimes illustrate just how flagrantly he exploited his position as a police officer to abuse teen girls. According to the Kansas City Star, court records reflect that Whitley hung his police uniform on the bedroom door during sexual encounters with his 14-year-old victim, bragged to her about being a police officer, and kept a loaded service firearm under a pillow while in bed with the girl. Whitley also reportedly led a 16-year-old victim to believe he was a police officer when he pulled up next to her, asked her to take a ride with him and his “partner,” and then paid her for sex.

Unfortunately, when employers and institutions empower adults to exercise control over minors without carefully monitoring their conduct, vulnerable young people can end up getting sexually victimized. Serial sexual abusers in the clergy, police, and scouting have all harmed children by taking advantage of the lax or willfully blind disciplinary practices of the organizations that gave them their authority. Oftentimes, predators target the most vulnerable victims, such as children from troubled homes or, in Whitley’s case, runaways.

Sexual crimes against minors inflict devastating and often life-long trauma. Researchers have found that a history of childhood sexual abuse correlates with “higher levels of depression, guilt, shame, self-blame, eating disorders, somatic concerns, anxiety, dissociative patterns, repression, denial, sexual problems, and relationship problems.” Research has also found strong correlations between sexual abuse in childhood and substance abuse in later life among both male and female abuse victims.

Even without such troubles, survivors of sexual abuse often struggle with confronting their past, especially when the abuser was a powerful authority figure, such as a police officer or a priest.

At Abels & Annes, we work with survivors of sexual abuse to make abusers and their enablers accountable. Part of that strategy can involve taking civil legal action for monetary damages, such as the case against the City of Chicago and former police officer Whitley.

Both criminal and civil legal cases play an important role in bringing sexual abusers to justice. In handing down the 25-year sentence against Whitley, the judge sharply rebuked him for having “sworn to protect and serve the public, but instead, [exploiting] some of the most vulnerable members of the public: young girls.”

Whitley’s sentence undoubtedly sends a powerful message to other would-be abusers.

But punishing the individual perpetrator is only part of the equation. Adults will continue to take advantage of positions of authority to abuse young people for so long as institutions enable and willfully overlook their misconduct. But you cannot put an entire organization like a police department or church in jail for its bad institutional culture. Instead, civil actions like the one we have filed give survivors of sexual abuse the opportunity to force changes in an organization’s culture and behavior by seeking significant monetary damages and other forms of relief.

This form of accountability can prove especially important for survivors when perpetrators refuse to face up to their conduct. Whitley’s sentencing judge doubted whether Whitley was even sorry for his crimes, citing his defiant behavior at trial. Whitley’s lack of remorse likely stemmed from his decades steeped in a police culture that treated him and his colleagues as if they were above the law and answerable to no one.

The team at Abels & Annes believes in the essential role of civil actions for monetary damages in holding powerful people and institutions accountable for actions that harm the most vulnerable among us. Chicago’s police culture went so far off the rails that it turned a blind eye to a police officer who paid for sex with children. Our lawsuit against the City and William Whitley aims to make sure that it never happens again.

If a person in a position of trust sexually abused you, and you want to know about your legal options for holding your abuser and anyone who enabled your abuser accountable, then we invite you to reach out to us. A consultation with our lawyers is free, strictly confidential, and comes with no obligation.

More Boy Scout Sex Abuse Victims Come Forward

Over two hundred additional sex abuse victims have come forward making new allegations against the Boy Scouts of America, according to USA Today. The ages of sex abuse victims vary. Some are still minors, some are in their 20s, and some much older. It’s very common for Boy Scout sex abuse victims to hide their pain for many years without telling anyone about the abuse they suffered. For example, one victim in his 50s alleges that he was abused in middle school. He was confused about what happened and it took him many years to figure out that he was a victim, that he did nothing wrong, and that it was the adult who was at fault.

With so many victims coming forward for the first time and making claims, approximately 150 new alleged pedophiles have been identified. Also, sex abuse lawyers representing some of the victims allege that children are still being abused, according to the Washington Post. The two hundred victims are from 33 different states, so the abuse was not just happening in one localized area. The problem appears to be nationwide.

For decades the Boy Scouts of America have kept detailed records about allegations of sexual abuse, but those documents have only been made publicly available over the last few years. The Boy Scouts recently released a statement saying that “We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting.” The Boy Scouts further went on to say that they have funded unlimited counseling for victims by a provider of their choice.

As an attorney that has worked on many sex abuse claims, I can tell you that counseling is very important. While there is certainly a financial aspect to sex abuse litigation, going to therapy for as long as needed is a critical piece of the puzzle in helping victims move forward with their lives and improving their well-being. According to Psychology Today, child sex abuse victims are more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as depression and PTSD, they are more likely to acquire HIV, and more likely to participate in criminal activity. Further, victims are more likely to suffer from alcohol and drug addiction.

When a sex abuse victim comes forward and starts working with a sex abuse lawyer, that victim would also typically seek the help and benefits of therapy at the same time.

If you are a Boy Scout sex abuse victim and you plan on pursuing a claim, it is better to seek out the advice of counsel as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for sex abuse lawsuits varies greatly from state to state. While some states have very long time limits to file a lawsuit and some states are even moving towards doing away with statutes of limitations for child sex abuse claims altogether, some states, unfortunately, have much shorter time limits for filing a lawsuit.

Another issue to be aware of is that the Boy Scouts are reportedly considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This could affect the time that abuse survivors have to move forward with claims in a more expedient manner. With bankruptcy, organizations like the Boy Scouts could be able to delay litigation and may try to use the bankruptcy filing to limit the extent of their liability.

Unfortunately, child sex abuse is too common in the United States. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, one out of every five girls and one out of every twenty boys become sex abuse victims. Further, children between the ages of 7 and 13 are the most vulnerable, and 3 out of every 4 sex abuse victims were abused by someone they knew well. Finally, minors who live with a single parent or a divorced parent, or live with parental discord, are at a higher risk for sexual abuse.

If you are a Boy Scout sex abuse victim, feel free to contact Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free confidential consultation. Our personal injury lawyers are available 24/7 at (855) 529-2442.

Boy Scouts Initiate Background Checks: Is It Enough?

The Boys Scouts of America swear an oath to help other people at all times. However, the organization has not always done its best at helping its own young members. Many instances of sexual abuse by troop leaders and other adult chaperones have surfaced, and the concerns of parents of potential Boy Scouts have rightfully increased in recent years. Recently, former Boy Scouts filed 15 lawsuits in Chicago courts regarding sexual abuse of members of a Burbank, Illinois, troop.

The organization just announced one response to such concerns—increased background checks and additional requirements for adults who supervise overnight excursions. Before June 1, troop leaders and other registered volunteers had to undergo background checks and complete a training course before volunteering. Now, the Boy Scouts require background checks and training for any adult who is chaperoning a trip that lasts at least 72 hours, which includes parents of scouts on the excursion.

The training course is a one-hour online session about youth protection. It covers protecting minors from dangers such as sexual molestation, especially during overnight activities such as camping trips, which can get particularly high-risk. This requirement only applies to Boy Scout troops, however, and not to Cub Scouts, who are usually younger than 11.

Risks of Harm Still Exist

While the Boys Scouts organization appears to make efforts to better protect young members from sexual abuse, its track record of dealing with sexual abuse incidents is less than stellar. For example, while the organization’s policies require mandatory reporting of any suspected threats, injuries, or abuse of members to law enforcement, independent investigations discovered that hundreds of known or suspected cases of abuse were, in fact, never reported. Lack of reporting prevents awareness and education of the risks of sexual abuse, and it allows predators to have continued access to potential victims. An unenforced policy is not enough to protect children.

In addition, background checks do not necessarily keep predators out of the Boy Scout ranks. Many sexual predators that target children do not have criminal records. Even vetted adults require proper supervision when around children on overnight excursions.

Volunteers should receive training and educating on how to watch for signs of suspicious behavior or situations at high risk for sexual abuse and injuries. For example, no adult should ever be left alone with a child for an unreasonable period of time. Chaperones should also notice if other volunteers are giving a certain child particular attention or if their behavior crosses the line of regular social interaction between adults and children.

While a one-hour training course may help, it may not be nearly enough to keep volunteers as vigilant as they should be to prevent sexual abuse.

Overall, the Boy Scouts may take steps in the right direction, but parents should always understand that there is always a risk of harmful acts toward their children when participating in scouting or similar activities. Always question your child about the events of an excursion and look for any signs that something out of the ordinary may have occurred. Never hesitate to report suspicions and discuss any incidences of sexual misconduct with law enforcement authorities and an experienced attorney.

What if the Unimaginable Happens to Your Child?

If you learn that an adult sexually abused your child during a Boy Scout activity, you will naturally feel outraged and want justice. Reporting the incident to law enforcement can help to result in the arrest of the abuser, who may then face criminal charges. An offender who is convicted of a sex crime may receive a prison sentence and will need to register as a sex offender.

While a criminal conviction will punish the individual offender, the case will unfortunately do little to help your child and family recover from the harm you suffered. In many instances, you may seek additional justice by filing a civil claim—not only against the individual offender but also against the Boy Scouts of America if there was negligent conduct on its part. An abuse victim should also undergo counseling with a trained professional.

The Boy Scouts organization has a legal duty to set and enforce policies and procedures to protect its members from sexual abuse and other preventable harm. When the organization fails to abide by this duty and a member does suffer harm, the Boy Scouts should be face full responsibility for any losses stemming from physical and mental injuries that result. Losses may include:

  • Medical bills for physical evaluations and treatments, including treatments for any sexually transmitted diseases
  • Financial costs of treatment for mental trauma and emotional injuries, which can include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering of your child and long-term scarring

Taking on a large organization such as the Boys Scouts can intimidate anyone, especially since a defendant generally will not want to admit to liability. An organization may try to deny any negligence or may pressure victims into settling early in a case and confidentially, to prevent any news of the matter that may further hurt the organization’s reputation. Having an experienced sex abuse attorney on your side can ensure that the Boy Scouts are held fully liable and that a victim does not accept a settlement for less than what they truly deserve.

Contact a Chicago Injury Attorney Law Firm to Learn How We Can Help

When you entrust your child to adults and organizations, you should always expect they will remain safe—both physically and mentally. Nothing can reverse the lasting trauma and effects of child sexual abuse, but you can hold the parties who allowed the abuse to occur responsible. This can provide financial relief for your family, as well as knowledge that you held the organization accountable in addition to the individual abuser.

Child sexual abuse is a deeply personal and sensitive subject. It is difficult to address the subject of sexual abuse, but at Abels & Annes, P.C., our attorneys understand how to handle such situations with compassion, and we can ensure you that consultations remain completely confidential. Call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation today.

Civil Claims Filed by Gymnasts against Larry Nassar

When you think of a personal injury lawsuit, you may initially think of a case arising from a car accident or another type of accidental injury. However, not all injury cases stem from accidents. Some cases involve allegations of sexual abuse of minors—for example the numerous high-profile sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

Recently, many elite USA gymnasts came forward and reported a widespread sexual abuse scandal involving a trainer team doctor based out of Michigan State University (MSU), Larry Nassar. Hundreds of gymnasts testified that Nassar sexual molested them under the guise of “medical treatment.” He was the primary physician for elite gymnasts competing for the USA and MSU, so many gymnasts had to visit him and suffer abuse over and over again for years.

Nassar was convicted of numerous counts of criminal sexual conduct and the court sentenced him to 40 to 175 years in prison.

While criminal cases punish an offender with prison time, sex offender registration, and other penalties, they do little to help the victims of sexual abuse, other than providing a sense of justice and protecting more people from harm. In these situations, victims of abuse have the right to seek additional recourse by filing personal injury claims in civil court. Such claims can seek financial recovery for physical injuries, medical treatments, mental health care, and pain and suffering of victims.

Recently, at least 332 of Nassar’s sexual assault victims filed personal injury lawsuits against Nassar and MSU. More than one victim claimed that she reported the misconduct to MSU and university officials defended Nassar’s actions as medical treatments and not sexual assault. The lawsuits claimed that MSU should have known about the abuse and failed to take the necessary steps to protect its students and patients of Nassar’s. Other claims name the USA Gymnastics (USAG) organization and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) as defendants, also claiming that the organizations should have known the abuse occurred and fired Nassar as the trainer for Olympic athletes and hopefuls. The victims claim that USAG and USOC failed to protect them from harm.

In May, MSU reached a settlement agreement with victims regarding claims against the university. News reports indicate that the agreement was for $500 million. 332 plaintiffs will share the settlement amount with some set aside for any future claims against the school. The claims against USAG and USOC are still in mediation. However, USAG did reach a settlement with a former gymnast regarding sexual assault by another coach, which many call the “ground zero” case that shed light on the scope of the sexual assault problem against young gymnasts.

Victims can certainly continue to file claims against Nassar and the relevant organizations. If you believe that you or your child suffered sexual abuse by Larry Nassar or anyone else, seek skilled legal assistance as soon as possible.

An Overview of Sexual Assault Civil Claims

In addition to filing a lawsuit against the abuser, an attorney can also identify whether any other parties may face liability for the abuse, like MSU or USAG in the case of Nassar. In these cases, claims generally cite negligence as the cause of action due to an organization’s failure to protect the victims. These cases can be complicated and petitions must be clear regarding the right causes of action against the right defendants.

Consider all of the possibly liable parties in sexual assault claims. While some people do file claims solely against an abuser, the abuser may not have significant wealth to compensate victims for what they deserve. In addition, abusers may be in prison and unable to ever pay a judgment. Companies and organizations, on the other hand, should have substantial insurance policies and assets, making it more possible for victims to receive the full amount they deserve for suffering such egregious harm. And if they knew, or should have known, about the abuse or assault and failed to take appropriate action, they can face significant liability.

A criminal conviction can prove the sexual assault occurred. However, even if no prosecution or conviction took place, you still may attempt to hold an abuser liable in civil court. The burden of proof is lower in civil cases than in criminal cases, which makes it possible for victims to obtain compensation even without a criminal sexual assault conviction.

Victims must also prove the extent of the damages they deserve. Damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Expenses for psychological counseling and medical treatment,
  • Physical and psychological pain and suffering, injury and distress,
  • Loss of normal enjoyment of life.

While such compensation can never turn back time and erase the extensive harm suffered by sexual abuse victims, it can give victims a sense of closure and justice, and provide greater financial stability.

Many victims of sex abuse do not fully understand the scope of their legal rights, especially when they were abused as minors years ago. These cases can require a thorough evaluation by an experienced personal injury lawyer. While the process of facing the details of your abuse can prove trying, it is often worth it to protect your rights, hold all negligent parties and abusers fully accountable for their actions, and protect others from having to suffer the same abuse.

Contact Our Chicago Injury Lawyers for Assistance Today

Sexual abuse is extremely traumatizing for victims and their families. At the Chicago law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C., we know this is a painful subject to address, however, victims should exercise their rights to justice and compensation. Our injury attorneys handle all cases with the necessary compassionate and sensitivity while aggressively fighting for your rights. We believe that sexual abusers should always be held accountable and we are ready to tackle these difficult claims. If you would like to discuss your legal options, please call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free, completely confidential consultation.