Broadly defined, sexual assault is any form of unwanted or forced sexual contact, and can consist of a wide array of scenarios. Survivors of sexual assault often undergo a tremendous amount of guilt, shame, confusion, and in severe cases even experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to the extremely personal nature of sexual assault, many instances also oftentimes go unreported. Fortunately, California has strict sexual battery and rape laws in place. With an experienced attorney, it is possible for victims of sexual assault to recover significant damages in civil court.
Statistics on sexual assault in California reveal staggering numbers. Between 2011 and 2012, more than 31,000 sexual assault victims were treated in one of California’s rape crisis centers. There are an estimated 2 million female survivors of rape currently living in the state, as well as 5.6 million women who have been the victim of some form of sexual violence other than rape. Furthermore, while women are often the targets of sexual assault, they are not alone in experiencing some form of sexual violence. In fact, it is estimated that there are 3 million male survivors of sexual assault in California alone. Thus, sexual assault is incredibly widespread and is not limited to strictly women. Sexual assault scenarios are also usually complicated and can involve many moving parts. For example, various factors such as the victim’s age, whether the victim was intoxicated or disabled, and the degree of force/violence that was involved in the assault can impact the degree of punishment and compensation. It is therefore extremely important to have a legal team that specializes in sexual battery and that can ensure your case does not go unaccounted for.
According to California Penal Code 243.4, sexual battery is defined as “any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse.”
The penal code also outlines other various scenarios that constitute sexual battery, such as a perpetrator forcing a victim to touch him/her or a perpetrator touching someone who is medically disabled or institutionalized. A very common form of sexual assault actually occurs under these circumstances, in which a doctor or person in a position of medical authority touches a patient under a false pretense such as a medical exam or procedure. In order for the victim to obtain compensation, he/she must prove that they were “touched” (either directly or through clothing), that it was an “intimate part” such as the buttocks, groin, or sexual organ, and that they were restrained either physically or verbally against their will. Here it is important to keep in mind that there does not have to be any penetration involved for a forced sexual encounter to be considered sexual battery; as long as there was some form of forced touching, the plaintiff can seek recoverable damages.
Possible recoverable damages include: medical bills, psychological counseling, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. It is also important to remember that California’s statute of limitations for sexual battery is two years from the date of the assault to sue for damages. With something as serious as sexual assault, one should not take any chances.
We are here to help you navigate every step of the legal process and fight to make sure that you receive the proper amount of compensation.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual battery or sexual harassment, please call for a free consultation at (714) 835-2122.