Liability For Sexual Assault And Abuse
When serious crimes are committed, we often expect the criminal justice system to step in, and punish the wrongdoer, and thankfully, it often does just that. But many victims may not realize that when they are crime victims, it isn’t just the criminal justice system that has a role, but the civil justice system as well.
In other words: yes, a victim can often sue for compensation for injuries that stem from what would and what are criminal actions.
Who is Liable?
One such criminal activity, is sexual assault or abuse. This may include sexual abuse battery, threats, or all of these.
A big question that victims of sexual abuse often ask, is who is liable—other than the perpetrator, who else may be held liable for damages that stem from sexual assault or from sexual abuse?
The answer to that question often depends on the facts of your case, but there are some general areas where parties can be held liable for damages to sexual assault victims.
Work and Employees
In cases where someone is assaulted at work, or assaulted by another person who is in the course of working, the wrongdoer’s employer can be held liable, often through vicarious liability, or the failure to conduct background checks. Unfortunately, many companies do not conduct any type of background check at all, and allow people with criminal histories to come into close contact with members of the public, or children.
The same goes for institutions, such as schools, religious institutions, police departments, day cares, nursing homes, or mental health facilities. By housing individuals, or watching over them, these institutions also carry a burden to protect those that they watch, monitor, or house. When those that they are supposed to protect, end up victims of sexual abuse or assault, they can be held liable.
Even with random acts of violence of sexual assaults, the property owner may be liable for your injuries. Properties that do not provide proper security, or which are poorly lit, or which create an environment where it is easy for violent crime to occur, especially in high crime areas, can be liable to you for your injuries, if the property owners did not take proper precautions to ensure that their property was safe.
Many victims of sexual abuse don’t report the abuse—either to law enforcement, or to their work supervisors, or to anybody else. Some populations, such as the elderly in nursing homes, or young children, may not even have the ability to properly express what has happened to them (or they may not be believed by family or friends).
However, it is difficult for anybody to do anything about the problem, if victims do not report that it is happening.