Children are most at risk of sexual abuse from a non-family member in settings where they remain outside the supervision of their parents. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under 18-years-old is a victim of sexual abuse or assault. In term of the impact of these crimes on their victims, 81% of women and 35% of men report post-traumatic stress.
Chicago Sexual Assaults Occurring In Illinois Institutions
Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawyers Holding Perpetrators Accountable In Civil CourtRosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC works on behalf of individuals to hold perpetrators and organizations accountable in the aftermath of sexual abuse and assault so the victim can recover the maximum compensation allowed under the law. Our trial attorneys represent individuals involving cases perpetrated in Chicago and across Illinois. If you or a loved one was a victim of sexual assault, we encourage you to contact our law firm as soon as feasible to ensure your legal rights are not compromised. Complete our case intake form for a free review of your case and legal options.
Demonstrating the Extent of Damages in Civil Lawsuits
In lawsuits involving a form of sexual abuse, our lawyers use the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts both to help our clients personally cope with some of the emotional issues that they encounter and to help jurors understand the horrors that our client experienced. Frequently, the use of these experts translates into a more valuable case, as these experts can better articulate the impact on the individual than people are usually capable of doing themselves.
Chicago Sex Abuse Civil Law FAQs
We represents people sexually abused and molested as children. Our lawyers in the Chicago area appreciate the life-long impact these situations can have. Below you will find some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) commonly encountered by our clients. Of course, should you have additional questions, we welcome you to contact our law office.
What Type of Compensation can I Recover with a Legal Action Under Illinois Law?
If you were sexually abused as a child, you might be able to bring a legal claim against the individual who committed the act and/or the entity where the individual was employed or supervised them. When initiating a claim in civil court, victims can pursue a claim for financial compensation for past and future damages they have endured.
Restitution vs. Compensation: Appreciating the Differences in Your Situation
First, understand the difference between criminal restitution and civil lawsuit compensation. Restitution is a legal right sexual abuse victims have under the Constitution of the State of Illinois It refers to the part of a sentence during a criminal case that orders a defendant to compensate the victim for crime-related losses. Restitution requires payment for the victim's out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills or property repairs. In a civil damage case, restitution may pay for counseling, transportation, doctor's office visits, lost wages, and other economic costs.
It is not possible to receive a financial award for noneconomic damages during a criminal case. The criminal courts in Illinois cannot order restitution relief for physical pain or suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, or psychological trauma. If a sexual abuse victim wants to seek financial compensation for these noneconomic losses, he or she must file a civil action against the perpetrator. Only a civil lawsuit against an abuser can fully compensate a victim for all his or her damages. For more information, consult with a Chicago sex abuse attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC today.
Compensatory Damages Available Under Illinois Law
- Medical expenses. All related past and future medical costs, including therapy treatment, counseling with a psychologist or psychiatrist. This also includes treatments in an in-patient or outpatient setting.
- Pain and suffering. All emotional toll the institution or individual inflicted upon you in the past, as well as the future burden you will bear as the survivor of sexual harassment. This may include lost quality or enjoyment of life.
- Lost wages. If the experience resulted in you taking time off work for counseling, recovery, or to avoid the perpetrator, you can file a claim for these economic damages.
Punitive Damages in Illinois Sexual Abuse Cases
Punitive damages are common in sexual abuse cases, as a form of punishment against the defendant. A judge may demand that a defendant pay punitive damages in addition to compensatory ones if the judge believes that the victim has not received enough under the circumstances, or if the defendant's actions were particularly egregious. Gross negligence, intent to harm, malice, or criminal acts may all result in a punitive damage award against the defendant.
Who are Common Defendants in Chicago Sex Abuse Lawsuits?
- Clergy: Thousands of cases have been filed against members of the Catholic church. The church itself says that as much as 1% of its priest population are abusers which equates to hundreds of thousands of wrongdoers and millions of abused kids. The Catholic Church has paid out an estimated three billion dollars in settlements for the abusive acts of its clergy and priests that occurred in Churches and dioceses.
- Teachers: Teachers are constantly the target of child sexual abuse claims. In most cases, the teachers are named individually and as an employee of the school district where they were employed at the time the alleged abuse occurred. In most of these circumstances, school districts have a duty to represent them in court under a theory of respondeat superior.
- Coaches: The world watched in shock as the horrors of Larry Nassar came to light at Michigan State University. However, many other coaches across the country have been found to have abused children. Hundreds of lawsuits have been brought against boys' and girls' athletic coaches who violated the sacred trust between themselves and their athletes.
- Doctors: A physician at USC was found to have abused hundreds of young women. This prompted a large outcry, his conviction, and a thorough review of the treatment of minors in the hands of doctors. Doctors exercise such complete control over patients that abuse can happen quite easily, and it often does.
- Foster Parents: Foster parents are entrusted with protecting our most vulnerable members of society. Unfortunately, they turn out to be the real danger all too often. In most cases, the individual perpetrators do not have sufficient assets to pursue. Consequently, cases are typically brought against the foster care agencies based upon their failure to screen the parents or supervise the children under their care.
- Youth Groups: Many of the largest youth groups in the country have come under scrutiny for child sexual assault or abuse cases. The Boy Scouts of America has had to deal with a lot of this negative attention. To date, the group had paid tens of millions in settlement to survivors including one case for $15 million and another for $18.5 million. For more information on litigation involving Boy Scouts look here.
How Long do I Have to File a Lawsuit for Sexual Misconduct Under Illinois Law?
In 2017, Illinois eliminated the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and assault. This means that if the abuse came after this change in the law, the child has no deadline to bring a claim. However, if the incident occurred before that change in the law, then the child must bring a case within 20 years of turning 18-years-old. Illinois removed the statute of limitations for child sexual incidents to better protect them and afford them relief in the case of harm.
What is the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Lawsuit?
Will I Need to Face my Abuser if I File a Lawsuit?
What to Expect During a Sexual Assault Lawsuit in Civil Court
- Filing the claim. You will need to come forward to an attorney to initiate the claim process. You will have to give details about your abuse experience and help your attorney find available evidence, such as eyewitnesses or counselors. It can be difficult to start the process, but your lawyer can walk you through the next steps.
- The discovery phase. In a Chicago sexual abuse court case, both parties will undergo the discovery phase. During this time, the defendant's attorney may ask you questions and request documents or information. Your attorney can help you prepare for this phase and collect evidence from the defendant's side. You will not have to see or interact with the defendant during discovery.
- Privacy concerns. Filing a civil lawsuit does come with certain losses of privacy. If your case goes to court, it will become a matter of public record. Your psychological history may become evidence during litigation. However, things you say to privileged parties, such as your lawyer, will remain confidential.
- Potential triggers and flashbacks. It is possible that your lawsuit will bring up memories you have suppressed for many years. Answering questions, trying to recall what happened, etc. can trigger flashbacks and anxiety or depression. Work with a therapist to discuss whether you are psychologically and emotionally ready to pursue a claim.
- Hearings. Court hearings are the only settings where you may have to face your perpetrator during a lawsuit. Both you and the defendant will be present at hearings. However, your attorney will be representing you. You do not have to speak to the defendant if you do not want to. If talking to your abuser will be cathartic, a public hearing can be a safe space to do so.
Can I File a Lawsuit if my Abuser is in Jail?
Yes, you can file a civil lawsuit if your abuser is in jail. Victims of sexual abuse can pursue justice through the civil and criminal systems in Illinois. In many cases, prosecutors file criminal charges against the perpetrator before the victim files a civil claim. This can lead to a civil case against the abuser while he or she is serving time for a criminal conviction.
Why is it Important to sue the Organization or Company a Sex Abuser was Affiliated With?
It is important to sue the organization or company the sex abuser affiliated him or herself with because the company could be vicariously liable. An employer or other entity could bear partial fault for the sex abuse case for failing to properly vet or train its employees or for another act of negligence. Holding parties besides the abuser accountable for child sexual abuse could result in more complete justice and better financial compensation for the victim. Many of the organizations that are named as defendants in sexual abuse litigation also have the resources necessary to satisfy a substantial settlement or judgment where such a recovery is unlikely in the case of an individual.
What are Some Examples of Illinois Sexual Abuse Court Settlements?
Hire an Experienced Chicago Sexual Assault Lawyer to Help Move ForwardEach Chicago sexual abuse attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has experience providing assistance with these difficult situations, and we are mindful of the emotional toll these cases have on victims when they are forced to relive their experiences. All safeguards are used to minimize the emotional toll on the individual through the course of settlement or litigation of the case.
Resources for Individuals and Families Coping With Sexual Abuse
- Removing the Statute of Limitations on Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases
- Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
- Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet
- When Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases are Ignored
One of the most horrendous acts that can happen in our society is the sexual abuse of a child. This perversion of power can scar a young child, affecting their emotional growth and every aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, it is difficult to protect these young victims, especially when their abusers are adults that are often those closest to them: family members, educators, caregivers, and even clergy.
Impacts Of Sexual Abuse On A Child, Teen & AdultThe long-reaching impacts of this type of child molestation and sexual abuse can follow victims for the rest of their lives. For children that are molested by a trusted adult, the road to recovery can last a long time. Many abused children and adult survivors have deep-seeded psychological damage, affecting their ability to forge healthy relationships, as well as many other challenges. Some of the common impacts child sexual abuse can have on a victim include:
- Anti-social behavior
- Stunted emotional development
- Loss of self-esteem
- Self-abusive behaviors
- Suicidal tendencies
The Frequency of Child MolestationIt is difficult to know precisely how many children are abused as it is often not reported to authorities. However, the statistics that are verifiable are horrific enough. According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, 9.2% of children that were victimized were sexually abused.
Chicagoland Sex Abuse Victim ResourcesFor many victims of sexual abuse as a child, the road to recovery is difficult. Many victims live in silence and pain for years before they confide to anyone about their trauma. The emotional and psychological damage can affect all areas of their lives, from diminished focus in school to forging healthy relationships. Because of the abuse, these children can grow up to live very different lives than they would have if their childhood had not been taken away through the malicious acts of their abuser.
- Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault: A network of 30 rape crisis centers providing 24-hour support for victims and their significant others
- Resilience (formerly Rape Victims Advocates): Founded in 1974, this group aims to provide support for victims of sexual violence. The organization also provides resources for prevention and education.
- Joyful Heart Foundation: Founded in 2004, this organization strives to transform societies view of sexual assault and support survivors' healing.
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): A national anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800) 656-HOPE, where victims can connect with local support groups.
- Community Counseling Services of Chicago: Provides support and counseling to victims of sexual abuse of all ages and genders.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC :: Chicago Sexual Assault Attorneys Pursuing Claims For Civil Damages
Whatever your circumstance, it is important to know that you are not alone. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented individuals who were sexually victimized as children by religious leaders, school officials, organized group leaders and others in positions of power. Our attorneys are not just committed to your financial recovery, in many circumstances we have helped connect victims with other survivors and with leading counselors. Talk to us to arrange a confidential consultation. Contact us today.
Resources for child sexual assault: