All too often, the victims of institutional sexual assault and abuse are unable to secure justice in the criminal courts — but the civil court system provides an avenue for justice and financial recovery that you may not initially realize is available. If you or a loved one have been subjected to institutional sexual assault and abuse, whether infrequent or consistent, you are entitled to sue and obtain compensation for the heinous acts that were committed by the defendants.
Institutional sexual assault and abuse lawsuits are fraught with difficulty for a number of reasons. In many cases, the institution takes steps to protect the abuser, from destroying evidence to intimidation of victims to transferring the abuser to a different location. Further, the victims of such abuse often struggle with feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, and more — these difficult feelings can cause victims to shy away from the publicity of a lawsuit. They may want to avoid dredging up old memories, for example, or may not want to risk drawing the ire of their community.
Personal Injury Attorney Mark A. Smith has spent decades fighting for the victims of institutional sexual assault and abuse. He knows how important it is to get to know you and your family, to independently investigate the abuses at issue, and to be prepared to win from the very beginning – as letting such a case drag on for years can have an enormously negative effect on the lives of all involved. In attempting to understand the trauma and reaction to the trauma, Attorney Smith exhibits extraordinary sensitivity and works with leading experts in the field.
Certain institutions tend to be commonly associated with systemic sexual assault and abuse. If you have experienced abuse, know that you are not alone. Others have almost certainly had similar experiences, and have either spoken up and obtained justice, or are suffering through their experiences silently.
If there has already been a criminal case, and the defendant managed to escape a conviction, you may still be able to obtain justice in a civil case. How, you might ask? In Pennsylvania, as in all other states, the proof standard is different in criminal and civil litigation. It is far more difficult to hold a defendant criminally liable than it is to hold a defendant civilly liable.
The defendant can only be held criminally liable if the evidence proves that they have committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In percentage terms, this has commonly been associated with a 99% certainty that the defendant has committed the crimes at issue.
On the other hand, the defendant can be held civilly liable so long as a “preponderance of the evidence” proves that they are responsible. In percentage terms, this has commonly been associated with a 51% certainty that the defendant is responsible for the alleged acts.
As such, though the abusive defendant may have defeated the criminal case, you may be able to succeed in bringing a civil claim against the defendant on the basis of institutional sexual assault and abuse.
If you or a loved one has suffered institutional sexual assault and abuse, then you are entitled to justice and compensation for the injuries you have endured. To pursue recovery for your injuries, you should consult with an attorney who will file your lawsuit and pursue litigation. Call (412) 368-8398 or fill out the online contact form for a free and confidential consultation. Mark will thoroughly review your case, help you understand the law and the appropriate action, and guide you through the next steps of the process. Mark cares tremendously that you feel comfortable throughout this process, and that your claims are taken seriously.