Sexual abuse and assault are some of the most damaging and horrific crimes that a person can endure. Often the pain that someone who has undergone sexual assault is not just on the surface but manifests itself in deep rooted emotional scars. When sexual abuse and assault comes from a physician, therapist, or clergy member the emotional and physical toll on the victim is often catastrophic and life altering.
Unfortunately, the world has become aware that sexual assault happens. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, detail widespread abuse involving at least 50 priests or religious leaders. The findings reveal a troubling history of diocesan superiors concealing the child abuse as part of an effort to protect the church’s image. When this trust is betrayed and sexual abuse or assault occurs, victims are often left feeling helpless, angry, anxious, and depressed, have difficulty concentrating and sleeping, and blame themselves for the abuse they suffered.
Many times, victims of sexual abuse suffer from low self-esteem and turn to bouts of promiscuity. Unfortunately, many victims later suffer from anorexia, bulimia, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse and other stress disorders that lead to hospitalization and suicide.
Since 1979, our personal injury lawyers have successfully litigated sexual abuse and unlawful sexual contact cases with an unparalleled track record of success. Victims of sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact are not at fault for the terrible experiences they have suffered. We believe sexual abuse predators must be held responsible for their horrific crimes, and we can help you aggressively pursue legal action against the predators that harm the victims and the institutions that made it possible, did not stop it, or tried to hide it.
Sexual Assault is a Common Tragedy
Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Ninety percent of all sexual boundary violations occur between a professional and a client or patient. Doctors and clergy members take solemn oaths to perform their duties ethically and professionally. They have a duty not to take advantage of the trust and relationships they form with their clients or parishioners.
Sadly, it has been estimated that approximately 67 percent of all sexual assault victims are under the age of 18. One-third of these victims are under the age of twelve, and one in seven cases involve children under six. Two out of every three sexual assaults and rapes are committed by an individual the victim knew, and victims may not realize they have been sexually abused until they are no longer in the situation.
Sexual predators are often manipulative and try to convince their victim the unwanted sexual contact is the victim’s fault, and this is why it may take years for victims to speak out and seek help. Predators often prey on weak, frail and vulnerable individuals who have sought them out for guidance and help.
Children are particularly vulnerable to assault and often do not report these instances to their parents or to the police. Children may be reluctant to disclose sexual abuse because they fear the person who has abused them. They may also be fond of their perpetrator, which is not uncommon. Additionally, children may be afraid of upsetting the family structure by telling their parents.
Another horrific story recently garnering extensive media coverage is of the alleged sexual abuse of over 100 children, some as young as three months old, by their trusted pediatrician. The pediatrician is currently facing 529 counts of rape, sexual exploitation of a child, unlawful sexual contact, and other charges after videotapes of the doctor engaged in sex acts with his child patients surfaced and numerous complaints had been lodged. Many of these children will grow up to suffer longstanding psychological problems and may require medical care or hospitalization.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Sexual Assault Case?
Often times when someone has undergone abuse, they will not go to the authorities right away. There are multiple reasons that this happens including disbelief what has happened to them, or not understanding what has happened to them. However, if you have been the victim of a sexual assault you should know that there is something called a statute of limitations, which limits the amount of time that you have to file a claim against someone who has assaulted you. Fortunately, the statute of limitations in these such cases has been extended a considerable amount of time because of the nature of these crimes.
In Pennsylvania, a person who has suffered child sexual abuse typically has until the age of 30 to file a civil suit against all liable parties. For adult rape or sexual assault civil suits, a person has two years from the date of injury to file. This is because of the age difference and the vulnerability that children face versus what adults face. You have until age 50 to file criminal charges against the offender.
Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania is Considered Gender-Neutral
In Pennsylvania, rape and sexual assault are considered gender neutral. This means that both boys and girls may be the victims of sexual assault. The primary distinction between rape and sexual assault is that rape requires some evidence of force, either actual or threatened, while sexual assault requires only that the complainant did not consent to the sexual conduct. Pennsylvania has created a list of sexual offenses, which include:
- Statutory Sexual Assault
- Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse
- Sexual Assault
- Institutional Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Indecent assault.
- Indecent assault
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual intercourse with an Animal.
- Conduct relating to sex offenders.
Each of these offenses is incredibly detailed and complex. Hiring an experienced victims rights attorney who has experience working with victims and advocating for their rights can provide you with comfort knowing that your rights are being protected.
If You Were the Victim of Sexual Abuse from a Priest in Pennsylvania, Our Attorneys Can Help
The experienced Pennsylvania sexual abuse and sexual assault attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm understand the difficult and painful emotions sexual abuse victims suffer, and our experienced Pennsylvania sexual abuse attorneys have handled some of the highest-profile cases against psychiatrists, doctors, clergy members, and other sexual predators.
In addition to our experienced sexual assault attorneys, we also have on staff two physicians and three registered nurses, one of whom is a certified rape counselor and sexual abuse crisis nurse. If you or a loved one has been the victim of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, molestation, or unwanted sexual contact, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your suffering and injuries.
Our personal injury attorneys have been awarded hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of clients that have been catastrophically injured, wrongfully killed, and who suffered abuse at the hands of sexual predators.
Call (215) 246-9000 today for a free consultation.