If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, it can be very difficult to put your life back together again. Victims of sexual violence often suffer from depression, fear, and anxiety, as well as the physical trauma they have suffered. It can take years of therapy for a sexual abuse victim to feel he or she has moved on from the incident. Some sexual abuse victims choose to turn to alcohol or drugs to escape the pain of the abuse, or commit suicide.

Many sexual abuse or assault victims want to seek justice through the legal system. They probably want the perpetrator to go to prison for the rest of his or her lifetime. The criminal system is responsible for punishing the perpetrator, and victims often work closely with prosecutors to help build a strong case against the accused.

In some cases, sexual violence victims feel that the criminal justice system hasn’t done enough to hold the responsible party or parties accountable for the crime. Victims may also choose to seek justice in a civil court against the attacked or against a party that was partially responsible for the attack. This month, a Texas woman who alleges she was raped on a college campus sued the school as well as the attacker in civil court. The alleged perpetrator was acquitted in criminal court last year, and sued the woman and her parents for defamation. The woman alleges that the college is liable because it was aware of a prior attack by the man. The lawsuit also alleges that the man was acquitted of the attack on the woman because of inadequate procedures in the college’s disciplinary system.

Often, a third party such as a college can be held responsible for sexual attacks. If an organization or an individual had a duty towards another person to keep him or her safe, failed to do so, and an attack occurred, the organization or individual can be held responsible in civil court, and may have to pay damages.

Some examples of situations in which a third party can be held liable for a sexual attack include:

–          A daycare center hired a registered sex offender to drive the children’s bus, and an attack occurred. The center could be held legally liable.

–          An apartment building was located in a high crime area in which there had been a string of attacks against women, but refused to install security lights, cameras, or guards. If an attack occurred, the building’s owner may be legally responsible.

–          A church hired a pastor who had a history of being fired from positions because of inappropriate conduct with children. If the church failed to do a simple background check, and the pastor committed abuse, the church could be held liable.

Every case is different. In some cases, the abuse may not have been foreseen or prevented. In other cases, an organization or an individual could be legally liable, but it may not be worth bringing a lawsuit because the organization or the individual doesn’t have sufficient assets to justify a protracted legal battle. In other cases the victim may have waited too long to pursue justice, and the statute of limitations may have expired.

If you have been the victim of sexual abuse or assault, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland personal injury attorney. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes strongly that abuse victims should stand up for their legal rights in both the criminal and the civil systems. Micha Star Liberty works with clients throughout the Oakland area, including San Francisco, Hayward, Tracy, and more. Call her to schedule a consultation at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000.

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