Sexual assault and abuse crimes are especially heinous offenses that can leave a victim feeling traumatized and helpless. In cases where the victim is a child or minor, it can affect them for the rest of their lives. However, in all cases, such events can have a lasting emotional and physical impact on victims. Sometimes, especially when the victim knows their assailant, the victim can feel reluctant to come forward to report the assault. It is important to come forward and get the help you deserve to avoid future trauma.
The attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger are here to fight for your justice and obtain the proper compensation you deserve. Our California sexual abuse attorneys are extremely sensitive to your right to privacy and are here to support you through this traumatic experience.
Why Choose Our California Sexual Abuse Lawyers?
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse in California, the experienced attorneys of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger can help. We have spent more than 60 years fighting for those who have been hurt by the despicable actions of abusers and other predators.
We understand the devastating impact of sexual abuse on the victim and loved ones of the victim. We want to help in any way that we can to help you get through this distressing experience. Even if your case is outside the statute of limitations, the new provisions may give you a second chance to pursue compensation for any damages.
We want to help you get the justice you deserve.
California Sexual Abuse Resources & FAQs
- Types of Sexual Abuse
- What Is the Difference Between Being Sexually Harassed and Sexually Assaulted?
- Signs of Sexual Abuse
- California Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations
- What To Do If You Are a Victim of Sexual Abuse in California
- How Does a Lawyer Collect Evidence for a Sexual Assault Case?
- Compensation Available in a Sexual Assault Case
- How to File a Sexual Assault Claim in California
Types of Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, sexual assault can occur in various ways at any time. It is a broad term that encompasses multiple offenses. Some of the more common assault cases include:
- Sexual abuse
- Child abuse
- Sexual molestation
- Sexual harassment
- School abuse
- Attempted rape
- Boy Scout sexual abuse
- Rideshare sexual assault
- Child sexual abuse
- Clergy Sexual abuse
- Nursing home abuse
- Vacation rental homes rape and sexual assault
Any type of unwanted sexual attention, contact, or activity can fall within sexual abuse. It can include pictures, videos, unwanted requests or advancements, exposure of sexual organs, forced touch, forced penetration, and distribution of sexually explicit content without permission.
What Is the Difference Between Being Sexually Harassed and Sexually Assaulted?
Sexual harassment does not always include specific sexual behavior and does not need to be directed at a specific person. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, “sexual harassment includes unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment.” Negative comments toward a specific group or gender can be a form of sexual harassment.
RAINN, defines sexual assault as “sexual contact or behavior, often physical, that occurs without the consent of the victim.” Sexual assault is usually a criminal act, whereas sexual harassment is usually a violation of civil laws.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Experiencing sexual abuse or harassment can have various effects on the victim. It may cause some survivors to face physical, emotional, or mental health issues.
Some physical effects include:
- Increased stress levels
- Sleep disorders
- Eating disorders
Some emotional effects include:
- Loss of control
Some mental health effects include:
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Loss of motivation
Not every sexual abuse victim fits into one bucket. There can be many or little signs that someone has experienced sexual abuse, but all cases are valid and taken seriously.
California Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations for a sexual abuse crime is a specific time frame for how long a person must file a claim before the law bars them from doing so. For sexual abuse and molestation cases, there is a statute of limitations in both criminal and civil cases.
Those who commit sexual assault crimes should expect criminal prosecution from the state as well as civil actions from their victims. Sex crimes are punishable under both state and federal law.
According to the California Penal Code, a prosecutor must file sexual assault charges within 10 year of the offense if the victim was an adult and if the victim was a child (under 18 years of age) then the prosecutor has until the victim’s 40th birthday.
Under the California Penal Code, a person may file a civil action to recover damages within 10 years from the date of the incident, or within three years from the date they discovered illness or injury as a result of the act.
What To Do If You Are a Victim of Sexual Abuse in California
It is important for a victim to know their rights and know who to contact if they have been sexually assaulted. Reporting a sexual assault can be difficult and the NSVRC has provided victims with a resource page for victims to report their assault in a discrete manner.
We understand that victims of sexual assault often feel alone, confused, and possibly ashamed making them worried to come forward with their stories. We are here to provide a safe and secure atmosphere where you feel comfortable discussing your assault so that we can obtain proper justice for you.
Sexual violence is a complex issue. According to the NSVRC, one in five women and one in seventy-one men will experience sexual violence at some point within their lifetime. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you have the right to report your abuse to authorities or contact an attorney to help you properly report your assault.
It is important that you seek medical help, report the attack, save all evidence, and contact an attorney.
How Does a Lawyer Collect Evidence for a Sexual Assault Case?
A lawyer will obtain any evidence they can from authorities and health professionals. Additionally, we will accept any evidence the victim may have collected. Evidence can include:
- In court testimony (from the victim, witnesses, or even perpetrator)
- Medical reports
- Police reports
- Clothing and items from the scene
- 911 call
- Criminal history
Lawyers will discuss the case with the victim and decide what evidence they need to collect and what evidence the victim may already have within their possession. If the victim sought medical treatment after their assault, a trained health professional likely tracked and stored any evidence they acquired from an exam. Often, a subpoena is necessary to obtain reports from hospitals, police, and doctors, our lawyers have experience filing the necessary documents to obtain the evidence.
There are many complex rules of evidence, and each state has various laws about what evidence you can and cannot use. Our attorneys at Walkup law have the experience handling evidence. Collecting evidence as a victim can be overwhelming and it may be difficult to figure out what evidence is necessary.
Compensation Available in Sexual Abuse Cases
Thinking about compensation in sexual abuse and molestation cases can be difficult for many. However, when perpetrators commit these crimes, they dramatically change the tragectory of survivors’ lives. Survivors may experience physical, psychological and emotional damage that never goes away. It may impact their future career potential and leave them with long-term therapy needs. In many cases, the perpetrator is allowed to operate by institutions that should be protecting victims. Often, these institutions are more concerned about their financial exposure than they are about the people they are responsible for and actively participate in covering up abuse. Examples of this include abuse in the Catholic Church, public and private schools, medical institutions and youth sports programs.
Victims of sexual abuse can seek compensatory damages as well as punitive damages through a civil action. A prosecutor will be the one to decide whether or not to bring criminal charges against a person. It is up to the victim whether or not they would like to bring civil charges against their perpetrator.
A civil claim will allow a survivor to seek monetary damages against the defendant. A criminal verdict is not necessary in order for a victim to file a civil claim. Oftentimes, the attacker will be found liable for a victim’s injuries, and compensation will be ordered for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss companionship with a partner
An attorney can help you decide what damages to seek in order to receive proper compensation for your injuries.
How to File a Sexual Assault Claim in California
As stated above, it is the prosecutor’s responsibility to file a criminal charge against the perpetrator. However, victims of sexual assault or sexual abuse must bring a civil suit against their perpetrator, if they want to seek monetary damages. The California court system provides victim guidance on filing a restraining order, court forms, and other resources for victims.
Can I File a Sexual Assault Claim on Behalf of a Loved One?
If you are a spouse or registered domestic partner of a sexual assault victim, you may be able to sue for loss of consortium.
If you are a loved one or family member who witnesses the assault, you may sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
If the victim died as a result of the abuse or assault, the victim’s family or heirs may bring a suit for wrongful death or a survivor’s action on behalf of the victim’s estate.
Can I Make a Claim if My Child Has Been Sexually Abused?
If your child has been sexually abused, you can file a claim on their behalf. If you suspect your child has been harmed, there are many resources available to you. If you know or suspect your child has been abused, the following resources may help:
- Tips from the Rape and Incest National Network
- California Child Protective Services Agency
- Child National Abuse Hotline
It is not necessary to have a lawyer to file a claim or restraining order, however the courts highly recommend that you contact a lawyer to help you through the complex process.
Can I Get a Lawyer If the Sexual Abuse Was Non-Violent?
It is not a requirement that the abuse be violent in order to file a claim or restraining order. Our attorneys will always be there to assist you and help you file a claim for any form of sexual abuse.
Contact Our California Sexual Assault Attorneys Today
The court system can be confusing and intimidating. Having an experienced California sexual abuse attorney can help make the process easier to handle. Our attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger can help you report your assault to authorities so criminal charges can be brought, and we can also assist you in filing a civil claim against your perpetrator.
If you or someone you love has experienced sexual abuse, contact our firm today. The California sexual abuse attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger are here to help you feel confident, safe, and secure through the entire process. We want to hear your case—let us help you get the compensation and justice you deserve.