Sexual abuse can manifest in a number of violent acts. Many victims are children. In fact, more than 4,200 children were victims of sexual abuse in California in 2012, according to Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This number represents only those cases that were reported – the actual number of victims may be much higher. Adults (including elders) also are victims of unwanted and illegal sexual contact, typically known as sexual battery.
Victims often know their perpetrators. The abuse or battery may take place in a familiar or “safe” setting, such as a school, daycare, youth organization, religious facility, workplace, doctor’s office or private home.
Sexual abuse and battery are illegal in California, regardless of the circumstances or victim’s prior relationship or knowledge of the assailant. Such acts are punishable under California’s criminal code.
Further, you may have the right to pursue civil action against a person who has committed sexual abuse or battery against you or your child. A lawsuit may entitle you or your child to financial damages to address physical and emotional injuries.
We respect the delicate nature of your situation and strive to provide as much information about your rights as possible. Below are details to better help you understand filing a lawsuit for sexual abuse or battery in San Diego.
What constitutes sexual abuse in California?
California Penal Code section 11165.1 defines sexual abuse as sexual assault or sexual exploitation. Acts that are defined as sexual assault include, but are not limited to:
- statutory rape;
- rape in concert (when someone knowingly assists or aids another person in committing rape);
- lewd or lascivious acts on a child;
- oral copulation;
- sexual penetration; or
- child molestation.
Other examples of assault and exploitation include the use of a child in a pornographic video or act, touching oneself in the presence of a child, and numerous other acts of sexual violence.
What is sexual battery in California?
California Penal Code 243.4 outlines the various definitions of sexual battery as committed by someone for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or abuse. The statute includes – but is not limited to – such acts as:
- touching the intimate parts of another person who is unlawfully restrained;
- touching the intimate parts of a person who is disabled, institutionalized or otherwise medically incapacitated;
- violating a person who is unconscious; and
- unwanted sexual touching (including between an employer or employee).
Such acts are punishable by fines and jail time as defined by the California Code. They also may represent grounds for civil litigation.
How much time do I have to file a sexual abuse or battery lawsuit?
A victim who suffered child sexual abuse generally has eight years from the age of majority in which to file a civil claim. This means a child victim would have until his or her 26th birthday to take action. An extension of three years may apply in cases where a victim did not discover the abuse or its effects within the initial eight-year timeframe.
What evidence is necessary when filing a sexual abuse lawsuit?
As with a criminal trial, a civil sexual abuse or battery claim necessitates the presentation of evidence. This may include:
- police reports;
- criminal records;
- medical records;
- psychiatric records;
- witness testimony;
- DNA or blood tests; and
An attorney can assist with the collection and presentation of such evidence.
I am ready to take action. What is my next step?
Our law firm offers free and confidential case evaluations for victims of sexual assault or abuse in the San Diego area. Call 619-296-5884 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.