The emotional and mental scars left behind after a sexual assault are carried with you throughout your life. When you have sought professional services from a licensed professional, and they end up breaking that trust by assaulting you sexually, it is devastating. A sexual assault can be defined by either sexual behavior or contact that is unwanted, and it is against the law for anyone, especially a licensed professional, to commit this horrible act.
Sexual Abuse by an Attorney
Seeking the help of an attorney generally means you are in a vulnerable state of mind. There is some form of a crisis occurring in your life that requires legal assistance to solve. Attorneys who take advantage of this fragile part of your life by sexually assaulting you, have turned themselves into criminals.
Attorneys understand the laws and know how to manipulate them in their favor. Do not let their influence or intimidation stop you from seeking the justice you deserve. If you have been sexually assaulted by an attorney, whom you thought you could trust; you need to understand California laws regarding this crime and how to defend yourself. Although this is an incredibly emotional time in your life, you have the right to seek justice against this assault, and there are attorneys committed to helping you through this difficult time.
As a resident of California, you are protected under the Victim’s Bill of Rights, and the first right includes:
- Your right to be treated fairly and with respect regarding your privacy and dignity, which entitles you to be free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout your justice process
If your attorney has broken this right under Marsy’s Law, you then have the right to seek compensation. Sexual violence often results from unequal power relationships and is one of the most common forms of violations against a person’s rights. An attorney who abuses this power and turns it into sexual favors for their benefit should be prosecuted by the laws they have themselves now broken.
- Marcy’s Law is California’s Victims Bill of Rights. It was enacted in 2008 by voters as Proposition 33. The act is intended to protect and expand the legal rights of victims. The rights it protects are the right to legal standing, notification of court proceedings, protection from a defendant, restitution, and parole boards more power to deny parole. Since this law was enacted in California, other states have followed their policy and passed similar laws.
Sexual Abuse by a Landlord
Sexual harassment and abuse are genuine issues and concerns in the United States. These incidents can occur to anyone at any time and anywhere. Most sexual abuse is committed by someone you know and trust, which makes these crimes heinous. One form of sexual abuse is abuse committed by landlords.
There have not been any national studies performed to chart the number of cases where a landlord uses sexual abuse against their tenants, but that does not mean it is not a major concern. Typically these cases include all kinds of landlord misbehavior from lewd comments to entering homes while you are away, to stalking, and extorting sexual favors for rent, as well as sexual assault and even rape. Sexual abuse occurs if:
- Your landlord tells you that rent doesn’t have to be paid if you sleep with them
- Your landlord continuously makes sexual comments regarding your appearance
- Your landlord places their hands in places considered ‘private parts of your body’ without your permission
- Your landlord attempts to evict you due to the fact that you will not follow their sexual commands (you refuse to sleep with them or remove articles of clothing)
These are just a few examples that cover landlord sexual abuse, there are others, and if you feel it is happening to you, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Learn and understand the federal and state laws, which state it is illegal for landlords or for those working for landlords to sexually harass a tenant. The ‘fair housing laws’ protect you, and by obtaining the services of a sexual abuse law firm, these rights and your options can be fully explained to you. If the threat is serious enough where you feel you are in immediate danger, call the police immediately.
- When you talk with the police or your attorney, you need to relate the facts of the incident in detail, including where and when it occurred. Name the person who has harassed you and provide them with contact information for this person if you have it. If anyone witnessed the event or events, give this information to them as well. If your harasser has given you any tokens, notes, gifts, notice of rent increase, eviction notices, or warnings, these should also be passed on to your attorney.
- It is illegal for you to be evicted or to have your rent increased because you have reported harassment to the authorities. Should you receive any such notice, call your attorney immediately.
- Your case can be investigated with government agencies, and you are able to sue your harasser in court. Speak with your attorney about the options available to you to stop this sexual abuse.
Sexual Abuse by Community Professionals
Attorneys and landlords are not the only ones finding their victims in vulnerable positions, which makes them easy targets for sexual abuse. Sexual abuse affects millions of Americans as it is estimated every ninety-two seconds an American experiences sexual abuse. There are more than 320,000 victims of sexual abuse and rape on average every year in the United States.
Community professionals who commit these crimes cause more damage mentally and emotionally as a person has a perceived belief that they are safe in their company. When that trust is broken, it causes devastation more damaging than when the perpetrator is a stranger. Professionals who can navigate their victims into secluded areas where the act can be committed without visible interference by other employees or the public include:
- Bankers- Often, bank personnel has private meeting rooms available to them that others are not allowed to enter due to privacy laws concerning the client’s financial information. These rooms offer opportunities for sexual abuse, especially if the client is seeking financial assistance from the bank. Sexual favors can be requested in order for the assistance to be granted, sexual comments or touching can occur without any others witnessing them, or any other form of sexual abuse can happen in these rooms without the knowledge of other bank employees. The abuse can also occur outside the bank facility if the banking official makes contact with you and uses your banking vulnerability against you for sexual favors.
- Trustors- Situations involving the trustee of an estate often take place in private settings. These settings provide sexual predators with opportunities to sexually abuse their clients as they are secluded, often behind locked doors, and without witnesses from either the public or other employees. You may be experiencing a difficult time due to the loss of a family member or friend, and the condolences being offered can quickly turn into sexual abuse.
- Real Estate Agents- A real estate agent has the perfect opportunity to have you in a private area which is very secluded from others view. They will sometimes offer to reduce the price of a property for sexual favors, or perhaps allow you to believe they can add features to the sale such as extra appliances, less down payment, or any other appealing aspect to purchasing the property if you provide sexual favors for them.
- Financial Planners- Financial planners are much like the banker or trustor in that your meetings with them are behind closed doors without the public or employees being able to observe their actions or hear their comments. These professionals have your financial future in their hands, which may make you a vulnerable victim for sexual abuse. They have the opportunity to promise almost anything concerning your finances for the exchange of sexual favors.
Sexual Abuse and California Laws
If you have been sexually abused by anyone, especially a community professional whom you have placed your trust with, you can seek compensation. With the help of a sexual abuse law firm, you can file a claim under California law.
Under Penal Code 243.4 in California’s sexual battery law, it is prohibited for one to touch the private parts of another’s person for the purpose of sexual satisfaction, sexual enthusiasm, or abuse. Sexual battery will be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. It will be charged as a felony if:
- You were unaware of the act due to being fraudulently convinced that the act was for professional purposes
- You were unlawfully restrained
- You were in an institution or medically incapacitated, or disabled
- You were forced to commit a sexual act or touch of their intimate parts under any of the above circumstances
Sexual assault or abuse occurs when there is an intentional fondling of a person’s private parts without their permission, or hands are placed on another’s buttocks without receiving permission. Sexual assault becomes a felony when:
- You are held down as someone attempts to unbutton your pants and places their hand inside of your underwear
- A professional convinces you to allow fondling in order to overcome personal obstacles
Sexual assault or abuse is generally any forced, unwanted, or coerced sexual contact. Under California’s penal code, the best definition or explanation of sexual violence is that the act is an unwanted non-mutual sexual activity that can be subtle or extremely violent. The abuse can include sexual threats, rape, incest, intimidation, sexual assault by a partner, child sexual abuse, human sexual trafficking, street harassment, or any form of non-consensual or coerced activity. This issue is a concern for many. These are the statistics on survivors of sexual abuse in just the state of California:
- Crisis centers serve more than 31,000 survivors of sexual violence in the state during a two year period
- More than 8 million people are estimated to have survived an act of sexual abuse in California
- More than 5 million women in California have been victims of sexual violence
- More than 3 million men are survivors of sexual violence in the state of California
Legal Recourse for Sexual Abuse Victims
There are two separate justice systems in our country- civil and criminal. The criminal justice system has a prosecutor who decides whether or not an action or crime deserves to be charged to a person as a sex crime. If the perpetrator is found guilty, they can be sentenced to jail along with having to pay a fine.
The civil justice system is where survivors can request or bring a claim to receive compensation from their perpetrator. It is not necessary for the defendant to be given a ‘guilty verdict’ for you to file a claim against them. Even should your perpetrator be found innocent, they can still be held accountable for injuries both physical and emotional.
You can still request compensation at civil court level for:
- Medical expenses
- Any wages you lost or will lose as a result of the sexual abuse
- Any pain or suffering you have experienced
- Any loss of companionship with your partner that occurred as a result of the sexual abuse
- Emotional distress or trauma
Registered domestic partners or spouses are also able to seek compensation by suing for ‘loss of companionship/consortium.’ This loss involves suffering a loss of moral support or intimacy as a result of the perpetrator's actions.
Reporting sexual abuse is difficult. Explaining the details of your incident is a very personal decision. Some people feel as though coming forward and talking about the events involved in their sexual abuse repeats the violation in their mind. If you are not emotionally ready to file your complaint and initiate a lawsuit, you still need to preserve your rights.
There is a statute of limitations for filing lawsuits, and you want to ensure you protect those rights. California law can prevent you from filing a lawsuit if it is not filed within statutory time limitations. As of this time, victims of sexual abuse are allowed ten years from the date of the attack or abuse to file a claim in civil court.
Who Can Sue for Sexual Abuse in California?
Anyone who experiences an unwanted sexual act or unwanted touching of their ‘private areas’ is eligible to sue for damages. Family members can also sue if:
- They witnessed the abuse; they could sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress
- They are experiencing a loss of companionship or moral support from their partners as a direct result of the sexual abuse
Police officers in California treat sexual abuse victims with dignity. They will willingly begin an investigation even if no criminal charges are filed. The results of their investigation will help build evidence in a civil lawsuit. Reporting the abuse will also bolster your credibility in your civil case.
Victims often become discouraged when they report sexual abuse but the D.A. (district attorney) may choose not to file charges or take their case to court. It is also discouraging when the D.A. accepts a plea bargain for a lesser charge. If the prosecution makes these decisions in your case, it doesn’t mean you should not sue.
In the civil lawsuit, you, the victim, are a party to the proceedings. It will be your decision on the advice of your attorney; whether or not to move forward or to settle out of court.
In the criminal court system, the prosecution has to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that a defendant is guilty. This burden of proof is often difficult to prove with sexual abuse due to having to prove consent or lack of it. With the civil lawsuit, you and your attorney will only have to establish ‘preponderance of evidence.’ What this will mean, is the jury only has to determine that the abuse ‘more likely than not’ happened. Another difference between the two courts is in the criminal courts; twelve jurors have to agree on the verdict, while in the civil trial, only nine out of twelve have to agree.
Who are Typical the Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse?
As discussed previously, most perpetrators are someone known and trusted by the victim. It is estimated that eight out of ten sexual abuse events are committed by someone the victim knows or has trusted their personal safety to. Survivors of sexual abuse often blame themselves for allowing an incident to occur; they should have known it was possible. This blame is inappropriate as it is never the victim's fault; it is the actions of the perpetrator who is at fault.
Sexual exploitation by a helping professional includes any sexual misconduct between a professional and the person seeking or receiving a service such as a banker, trustor, accountant, or other commercial services. A person should be allowed to trust a professional and expect they will respect boundaries with your best interest in mind. When a professional crosses the line of trust and expects sexual favors in lieu of their services, it becomes a betrayal and can cause you to experience many emotional traumas such as:
- Difficulty with trust or intimacy
- Feelings of anger, guilt, and confusion
- Sexual dysfunction
- Increased risk of suicide
The reporting rate of sexual abuse by helping professionals in low due to the fact of victims fearing retaliation from the professional. There is also the fear of others not believing the act occurred due to the professional status of the perpetrator or their standing in the community. If you are a victim of sexual abuse by a community professional, the first thing to know is it is not your fault, and you are not to blame for what has happened to you. If you have suffered sexual abuse by a professional in your community, you should:
- Contact the professional association or licensing board
- Contact an organization for which the professional works for and file a report with them
- Contact an attorney to file a civil lawsuit
- Contact your local authorities
Signs to Look For If You Believe Someone has been Sexually Abused by a Professional
Whether you are a friend, parent, or perhaps a child of someone you expect has been sexually abused after seeking professional services, you can make a difference in their lives by noticing warning signs of the sexual encounter. Sexual violence, like any other crime, can occur in a bank, office, or during a showing of property for sale. If someone you know begins displaying warning signs of sexual abuse, you can help them seek compensation and counseling.
Remember, it is better to be wrong about your suspicions than to let someone you love continue to suffer through a traumatic event alone. Ask questions that point to the event in which you believe the encounter occurred, or about the specific professional you know they were meeting. If you notice these signs, it is worth reaching out to them:
- They are suddenly withdrawing from other relationships and activities such as leaving sports teams or spending less time with friends
- They begin limiting their contact with others
- They have visible signs of physical abuse after the meeting such as black eyes or any form of bruising
If any of these signs exist or others that lead you to believe a sexual assault has occurred, talk to them and let them know they are not alone. Together you can seek legal and professional assistance to file a civil suit against the perpetrator as well as find counseling services to help with the mental and emotional trauma this event will cause.
Find a Sexual Abuse Attorney Near Me
If you are a resident of California and are a victim of sexual abuse by a trusted professional, call the Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm at 310-359-9451. We are committed to seeking justice for those who have been betrayed by a professional who has taken advantage of them when the professional should have been supporting you through their services.