Sexual Abuse - Shegerian Law

Sexual Assault Law

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Los Angeles Sexual Assault Attorney

In California, victims of sexual assault are able to pursue justice through two types of legal avenues: criminal justice cases and civil cases. While civil claims involving sexual assault have a formal end goal of helping victims obtain compensation, these cases are about so much more than award amounts. They are about holding perpetrators accountable, helping survivors heal and achieve closure, and preventing similar acts from occurring in the future.

Our Los Angeles sexual assault attorneys are trauma-informed advocates who are dedicated to helping victims heal. Legal representation is only one part of a survivor’s journey to healing. That’s why providing our clients with legal representation as well as resources is one of our main priorities.

Types of Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault, also known as sexual abuse or sexual violence, is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as any sexual activity that occurs without consent, without consent freely given, or without someone being able to consent or not consent.

Statistics from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reveal that, in California, nearly 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men report an experience of sexual violence in their lifetime. Additionally, an estimated 23 million women nationwide have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.

Sexual assault can include, but is not limited to, the following acts:

  • Forced sexual acts of any nature
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Statutory rape
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Unwanted or unconsented hugging, kissing, or touching
  • Sexual contact with someone unable to consent, such as one individual being unconscious or under the influence of drugs or alcohol

In the case of forced sexual assault, force is not limited to physical coercion. Emotional coercion, manipulation, intimidation, or psychological force can be considered.

Institutional Sexual Abuse and Third Party Liability

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, most sexual battery incidents occur between two people that know each other. This can include intimate partners, friends, acquaintances, relatives, classmates, co-workers, or business associates. “Institutional” sexual abuse refers to a pattern of behaviors within an organization or institution that perpetuate, fail to stop, or even promote predatory behaviors.

Many times, people in positions of authority will use and abuse their power to commit abusive and illegal acts. Some examples include:

  • An employer who offers their employee preferential treatment, a raise, a bonus, or the guarantee that the individual will not lose their job in exchange for sexual favors.
  • A teacher, coach, or educator who uses manipulation to coerce an individual into a sexual situation.
  • Parents or guardians, including foster parents, that take advantage of the children in their care.
  • A religious leader who sexually abuses individuals or minors in their community.
  • A coach or medical doctor that sexually abuses athletes in their care under the guise of medical care. A recent example of this was the abuse by Larry Nassar, a Michigan State University medical doctor who received life in federal prison for criminal sexual conduct and child pornography against hundreds of girls and women in his care.

Situations that involve institutional sexual abuse are particularly heinous because oftentimes the abuse is known about or suspected, but is covered up due to the perpetrator being in a position of authority or respect. If you are a victim of institutional sexual abuse, please know that sexual abuse cases are not limited to the individual perpetrator. Institutions or organizations may also be held liable and pursued for legal action if negligence allowed the abuse to occur.

Warning Signs of Sexual Assault

It is critical to understand the warning signs of sexual assault, particularly if you may be worried about a minor in your care or another loved one who may be the victim of sexual abuse. It is very common for sexual assault perpetrators to use intimation or threats to ensure that a victim does not speak up against the abuse. Warning signs of sexual abuse can include:

  • Behavioral Changes
    • An increase in physical complaints
    • Problems at bedtime or fear of going to sleep
    • Fear of certain people or places
    • Regression to infantile behaviors
    • Preoccupation with their body
  • Medical and Physical Symptoms
    • Sleep disturbances or nightmares
    • Pain, itching, bruising, or bleeding in the genital area
    • Frequent stomach illness with no identifiable reason
    • Loss of appetite or losing weight suddenly
    • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Emotional Changes
    • Unexplained fear or withdrawal from certain people or places
    • Lack of confidence
    • Sudden mood swings
    • Fear, rage, or anger
    • Symptoms of depression or anxiety

Additionally, there are some things you should keep in mind in order to help protect yourself and others from potential sexual assault:

  • Sexual assault perpetrators will typically try to instill a false sense of security into their victims. They may use flattery and give victims attention before the abuse begins so the victim lowers their guard.
  • Some offenders may use drugs or alcohol to reduce resistance from victims. An individual who appears very focused on getting another person intoxicated or high may intend to do harm.
  • Offenders will often isolate their victims from friends and family in order to force the victim to stay in a long-term abusive relationship.
  • Offenders will often use manipulation, intimation, and gaslighting to cause confusion and shift responsibility onto the victim.

Sexual Assault Penalties and Time Limits in California

Sexual abuse perpetrators should expect prosecution from the state, as well as civil actions from their victims. Sex crimes are punishable by both state and federal law in California. While the state will handle the criminal prosecution of the offender, a sexual assault attorney will help the survivor build a civil claim to secure compensation for damages.

In California, victims typically have two years from the date of the abuse to file a civil claim, however, the time limit is much longer for minors. It is imperative that survivors preserve their rights to file a claim by reaching out to a Los Angeles sexual assault attorney as soon as possible. This individual can work to ensure you don’t miss any crucial deadlines and work hard on your behalf to pursue compensation for:

  • Medical expenses. A survivor may sue for any necessary medical expenses that resulted from the sexual assault. This can include ongoing counseling, medication, or other forms of treatment.
  • Lost income. If a sexual assault prevents the victim from going back to work for a certain period of time during physical and emotional recover, a civil claim can include damages for lost income.
  • Pain and suffering. Not all consequences of sexual violence are visible. California law recognizes that sexual assault is a traumatic event and often leads to long-term psychological difficulties, including PTSD, depression, suicidal thoughts or attempts, inability to focus, and lost quality of life. The law allows these individuals to pursue damages for their mental anguish, emotional distress, and physical pain endured.
  • Punitive damages. In cases where the experience of a sexual assault is especially heinous, intentionally harmful, or egregiously negligent, the court will award punitive damages to a victim. A secondary goal of these damages is to dissuade future similar behaviors from the offender and others.

Your Rights as a Survivor of Sexual Assault

In 2023, the state of California passed the Assembly Bill 2777, also known as the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act. AB 2777 extends the statute of limitations for filing a civil claim for sexual abuse, meaning that victims of past sexual abuse have a new opportunity to seek justice and pursue claims against their perpetrators.

A sexual assault survivor can currently now sue their abuser for any sexual abuse or attempt since January 2009 until December 31, 2026. Additionally, AB 2777 revives past claims against companies or their agents if the following applies:

  1. There was a sexual assault.
  2. The company is legally responsible for the sexual assault damages.
  3. The company or its agents attempted or successfully engaged in a cover up for the sexual assault or allegation of such.

Prior to AB 2777, sexual abuse victims could sue their abuser for sexual assault damages if a claim as filed within 10 years of the last act of or attempt of sexual abuse, or within 3 years of the victim's discovery (or when they reasonably should have known) of their injury or illness that resulted from the sexual abuse.


How Shegerian & Associates Can Help

At Shegerian & Associates, we recognize that filing a legal claim as a survivor of sexual assault and reliving past experiences can be traumatic itself. That is why our trauma-informed attorneys work to ensure that our clients’ emotional and psychological needs are met from the very first interaction we have with them. We do this by:

From initial intake to legal representation, we make a commitment to listen to our clients. We have staff prepared to listen to survivors and make a promise to always adhere to our commitment to confidentiality. We understand that sometimes the first step in healing is to have someone to talk to.

We understand that seeking help is difficult and can be overwhelming. That's why we do our best to provide healing resources for our survivor clients. Our law firm will put our client survivors in contact with resources to receive therapy free of cost either through Sexual Assault Center or outside counseling.

We recognize that survivors may need immediate financial assistance before their cases are yet filed. We will put survivors in contact with resources to help alleviate financial stresses due to unforeseen medical expenses.

Contact Us for a Confidential and Free Case Evaluation

Remember that time is a critical factor when it comes to preserving evidence. This includes biological evidence, such as clothes, personal belongings, items from the scene, and medical records. These pieces of evidence can hasten the investigation and steps needed to hold the offender accountable. Victims of sexual assault should seek assistance from the police to start a successful investigation, then contact a Los Angeles sexual assault attorney.

As a survivor of sexual assault, one of the most important and courageous things that you can do is speak up. Some victims may be scared to do so due to intimation, while others may just want to forget about the experience and move on. At Shegerian & Associates, we want you to know that your story matters and we are here to help you tell it.

Our compassionate, caring, and professional attorneys have a record of representing our clients against the most powerful companies and people in the world. While no amount of money can negate the traumatic experience you have been through, you deserve the justice and compensation that you need to heal and find a level of closure. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse, we can help you hold the abuser accountable.

Contact our attorneys today for a confidential, private, and free consultation today.

Confidential & free case evaluation

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Call for a free evaluation: (213) 263-4184

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