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 reports post-traumatic stress.
If you or a your child is a victim of sexual abuse at an Illinois institution, you may pursue justice through the civil justice system to recover compensation from the perpetrator or the organization where the perpetrator was employed or affiliated. Having an experienced Chicago sexual abuse lawyer on your side can help you navigate this treacherous time.
The Chicago sex abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are committed to holding organizations where sexual abuse occurred fully accountable under the laws of Illinois. We encourage you to contact our law office for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. We can assist you pursue a financial recovery, even if the abuse occurred many years ago.
Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawyers Holding Perpetrators Accountable In Civil Court
Rosenfeld 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 sexual abuse attorneys work represent individuals involving cases perpetrated in Chicago and across Illinois. If you or a loved one was a victim, 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.
It is extremely difficult to know the exact number of children who are sexually abused, as many cases go unreported. In 2003, 78,188 cases of child sexual abuse were reported through child protective agencies, yet surveys of adult women show that 9-28% of them report that they were sexually abused as children, which would mean that that number is likely much higher.
Although the impact of an episode of sexual abuse may not be outwardly apparent, studies repeatedly confirm that people who are sexually abused as children continue to suffer lifelong problems in different areas of their lives. If you or someone you care about has been a victim, contact our sex abuse victim law firm for a free consultation.
Demonstrating the Extent of Sexual Abuse in Civil Lawsuits
In lawsuits involving 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 Sexual Abuse FAQs
We represents people sexually abused and molested as children. Our lawyers 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 Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Under Illinois Law?
If you were sexually abused as a child, you might be able to bring a lawsuit against the individual who committed the act and / or the entity where the individual was employed or supervised them. When initiating a sexual abuse lawsuit in civil court, victims can pursue a claim for financial compensation for past and future damages they have endured.
Restitution vs. Compensation
First, understand the difference between criminal restitution and civil lawsuit compensation. Restitution is a right sexual abuse victims have under the Constitution of the State of Illinois. It refers to 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 sexual abuse 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 sex 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 a sex abuser can fully compensate a victim for all his or her damages.
A civil lawsuit could result in many different types of damages for the victim. All damages, however, fall under two main categories: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages serve to reimburse the victim for his or her losses, while punitive serve to punish the defendant. Compensatory damages happen in all successful sex abuse claims, while awarding punitive damages is up to a judge's discretion. Types of compensatory damages available include:
- 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 out patient setting.
- Pain and suffering. All emotional tolls the sexual abuser inflicted upon you in the past, as well as the future burden you will bear as the survivor of sexual assault or abuse. This may include lost quality or enjoyment of life.
- Lost wages. If the sexual abuse experience resulted in you taking time off work for counseling, recovery, or to avoid your abuser, you can file a claim for these economic damages.
The two types of compensatory damages are actual (specific) and general. Actual damages are out-of-pocket or economic costs, while general may not have a monetary value. The general damages are often substantial in a sexual abuse case. The state of Illinois does not place a cap on either type of damage unless the defendant is the state. If the defendant in your case is the state government, you cannot receive more than $100,000 in general damages for most claims.
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?
Most childhood sexual abuse lawsuits involve individuals and affiliated entities with the means to pay a court judgment or settlement. Below are some common parties named (defendants) in legal claims stemming from childhood sexual abuse.
- 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 members.
- 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 children 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 Abuse 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 lawsuit. However, if the abuse 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 assault and abuse to better protect them and afford them relief in the case of harm.
What is the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Lawsuit Involving Sexual Abuse?
The difference between civil and criminal suits for child sexual abuse lies largely in punishment. In civil cases, defendants face the possibility of mostly monetary penalties. In criminal cases, defendants may lose their liberty through imprisonment and other restrictions in freedom.
Another implicit but important difference in these two types of cases is the complainant. Civil cases are brought by private parties. Criminal cases are brought by the state.
Will I Need to Face my Abuser if I File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
You may need to face your abuser if you file a lawsuit, but you will never be with him or her alone. You will have your attorney by your side, and you will be in a courtroom full of people. Finally seeking justice for your sexual abuse experience can punish the defendant and enable you to heal. Our sexual abuse lawyers can help you secure compensation to improve the quality of your life.
In some circumstances, we can provide an extra layer of support, by filing your lawsuit using an alias. Unlike other personal injury cases, where court filings have the name of the individuals involved, we may be able to file an Illinois sexual abuse lawsuit under a John Doe or Jane Doe alias, keeping you name out of public viewing.
What to Expect During a Sexual Assault Lawsuit in Civil Court
A lot of the fear and uncertainty victims feel at the beginning of the civil lawsuit process comes from not knowing what to expect. Feeling left in the dark about how long the process might take, when and if you will need to see your abuser, and how much privacy you will have during the process can make you nervous. Do not let these fears get in the way of your pursuit of justice and compensation. Learn what to expect during the average case.
- 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 sexual abuse 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 abuser during a sexual assault 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.
Lawyers have methods to protect your interests and emotional health during a civil sexual abuse claim. Today, the claims process is much easier on victims than it used to be. Legal changes have created a safe environment in which victims can assert their rights and have their stories heard. Filing a claim can give you the opportunity to seek justice against someone who has caused you harm.
Can I File a Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawsuit if my Abuser is in Jail?
Yes, you can file a civil sexual abuse 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 who 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?
On average, successful child sexual abuse lawsuit settlements in Illinois fetch several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of them even exceed the one-million-dollar mark. However, how much any particular case gets depends on its facts. This will also determine how long they last which matters when it comes to compensation as well. Here are a few examples of child sexual abuse settlements to give you a better flavor of how these cases are valued.
$4.45 MILLION ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT
In the spring of 2017, the Chicago Archdiocese reached a $4.45 million settlement with three men. The plaintiffs alleged one priest repeatedly molested them roughly 15 years prior. Two of the boys were abused during an after-school program and one was abused after a church-run basketball program. The plaintiffs stated that the diocese knew about the priest's tendencies and took no action.
$1 MILLION ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT
Five kids sued a north-suburban Illinois high school after enduring sexual assault and abuse on campus. They alleged the school knew about it and took no action. Two coaches were fired, and another was charged by the local authorities but eventually released. The district settled with all of them; they each received $200,000. It was a settlement agreement, so the school could still deny any wrongdoing.
$6.3 MILLION ILLINOIS AWARD
This sexual abuse lawsuit arose in a church near St. Louis, but on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. The plaintiff, an adult, claimed that a priest sexually abused him decades ago. The misconduct occurred at a school the priest taught at and the man attended. The man received a large award, much of that was comprised of punitive damages and interests. This case illustrates how justice is possible even many years after the fact!
$3 MILLION ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT
This case was brought against a town under the failure to report statutes of Illinois which require officials to report allegations of abuse to authorities. The plaintiffs, several small children, alleged an employee and volunteer of the city sexually assaulted and abused them over several months. The town settled with the plaintiffs in a private agreement totaling $3 million.
$1.4 MILLION ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT
This case wrapped up in 2018 nearly four years after it began. Three men brought a combined suit against a Catholic Church. They said that one priest repeatedly molested them over a few years in the early 1980s. They were each under the age of 11 at the time.
$2.2 MILLION COLORADO SETTLEMENT
This civil case kicked off after a Colorado teacher went to jail for 20 years. He was found to have repeatedly sexually exploited a 14-year-old girl. The school district got in hot water because it didn't report allegations to the police.
$4 MILLION ILLINOIS AWARD
This case was brought by an adult male against his former foster parent. It was filed in 2017 for actions that allegedly took place around 2004. From what we can tell, the foster parent sexually assaulted him over a few months during that year. The victim reported that has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This plaintiff received a $4 million award-$2 million for compensatory damages and $2 million for punitive damages.
$28 MILLION ILLINOIS AWARD
It only took an Illinois jury a few hours to return one of the largest verdicts in the state's history for child sexual abuse. The victim was only 12 at the time. The abuser was a family friend and coach of the boy. He molested him serially over a few months. The kid had to run away from his home for it to stop. The jury gave him $28 million-$7 million for compensatory damages and $21 million for punitive damages.
Hire an Experienced Chicago Sexual Assault Lawyer to Help Move Forward
Each 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.
If you or a loved one is the victim of sexual abuse in Chicago or anywhere in Illinois and you've been wondering, "Where can I find an experienced attorney near me?", please contact our law office for a confidential discussion of your situation and your legal rights. We will answer your questions in a safe, no-pressure environment.
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 & Adult
The 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
Each victim’s circumstances are unique; how they cope is dependent on the support system they have around them. Some victims show immediate signs of emotional damage where other children may not display any symptoms of abuse until years down the road.
The Frequency of Child Molestation
It 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.
This number is almost 1 in 10 children, which is a conservative number since many children do not report their abuse, especially when the abuser is someone they trust. Another report by the National Institute of Justice estimates that 3 out of 4 adolescents that were sexually assaulted claimed the abuser was someone with whom they had a close relationship.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented individuals sexually abused in the following settings across Illinois:
Recovering fromChildhood Sexual Abuse (Chicagoland Sex Abuse Victim Resources)
For 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.
Thankfully, there are some organizations that provide support for people who were victimized as children. Below are some Chicagoland organizations that provide support and counseling for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
- 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 abuse 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: