At Thomas Law Offices, we are aware of the long and often challenging recovery sexual assault victims face. While the criminal justice system can punish perpetrators of such crimes, some may look for ways to hold those responsible in other ways. In Illinois, sexual misconduct victims have the right to file a civil lawsuit to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages. A Chicago sexual assault lawyer can help you get started.
Victims of sexual abuse may be afraid of taking legal action against their attackers. Our law office understands those concerns and will help anyone who comes to us navigate the situation as carefully as possible.
Types of Sexual Assault Claims
Sexual violence is a broad term that encompasses situations where the recipient does not or cannot give consent. All types of sexual violence can warrant a sexual abuse claim for compensation in Illinois. Common misconduct claims include rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children or the mentally disabled, sexual harassment in the workplace, abuse in schools, daycares, nursing homes, and abuse by law enforcement officials like police officers and correctional officers.
According to the Chicago Police Department, criminal sexual assault includes “any sexual assault (completed or attempted), aggravated, or non-aggravated committed against any victim, female or male, including attempted offenses.” In 2019, there were over 8,300 reports filed for acts of rape and aggravated assault within city limits. That same year, only 408 arrests were made by police for criminal sexual assault.
No matter the type of sexual assault claim you need to file, our Chicago attorneys understand how delicate of a matter this is. We will respect your privacy and ensure your rights are upheld while doing whatever we can to hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions.
Sexual Abuse in Chicago Nursing Homes
Long-term care facilities are responsible for prohibiting and preventing sexual assault. If an incident occurs, whether it’s between a staff member and resident or two residents, the nursing home is supposed to investigate and report the suspected abuse to the Illinois Department of Health. When a crime is suspected, law enforcement should be contacted.
Nursing home residents are at risk of sexual abuse; however, most incidents go unreported or unnoticed. The most recent data suggests Ombudsman investigates over 800 instances of nursing home sexual abuse every year.
The majority of sexual abuse victims in nursing homes are women and residents with dementia. Women make up nearly two-thirds of the population of nursing home residents. Residents with dementia are at a higher risk than others because of their impaired memory and communication skills. It’s important to remember, however, that all residents are vulnerable to abuse.
If you believe your loved one has been sexually abused in their nursing home, it’s important to take action quickly. Ensure their safety and get in touch with one of our sexual assault attorneys in Chicago.
Identifying Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse
If you’re considering filing a claim against an alleged abuser, you will need to name the perpetrator or perpetrators. Your attorney will help you gather the evidence you need to prove you’re going after the right person or party by collecting legal documents, medical records, criminal histories, witness statements, and more.
It’s possible you could be taking legal action against someone who you are close to, as well as someone that is potentially a person of authority to you. Common abusers who are taken to court for Chicago sexual assault claims are family members, spouses or partners, and acquaintances. When a minor is involved, the perpetrator may be a teacher, coach, or church administrator.
While the majority of sexual assault claims are filed against someone the victim knows, there are instances where sexual assault or molestation by strangers occurs. Regardless of who you are taking legal action against, your lawyers will be able to use whatever information you can provide to begin building your case.
What to Do If You Suspect Someone Else is Being Abused
If you suspect someone you know is being sexually abused, there are certain red flags you should be on the lookout for. While these signs do not confirm sex abuse has taken place, they can indicate that something is wrong:
- Sudden onset of depression
- Sudden onset of anxiety
- Social isolation
- Appetite changes
- Substance abuse
- Age regression
- Not respecting boundaries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
The signs will likely vary depending on the victim’s age and the type of sexual abuse they’ve suffered. If you think someone is being abused, it’s important to act quickly and help them get to a safe location. You can try to get them to open up, but it’s normal for them to deny anything has happened. If they start to talk about their assault, broach the subject of getting the police involved to start an official investigation. Then, you’ll want to get in touch with a Chicago sexual assault attorney from Thomas Law Offices so we can begin reviewing your legal rights and options.
Legal Options for Sexual Assault in Illinois
Illinois takes instances of sexual assault seriously. No matter the circumstances that resulted in your attack or who the perpetrator is, it’s important to understand how you can pursue a claim to seek compensation and start to put this terrible chapter behind you. Depending on the circumstances, you’ll want to know the difference between civil and criminal cases.
Criminal vs. Civil Sexual Abuse Cases
When someone is convicted of sexual assault in Illinois, they are charged with a Class 1 felony. That type of felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. In the event the defendant is convicted a second time, they could be looking at increased charges, a Class 10 felony, and possibly lifetime imprisonment.
Criminal sexual assault cases are separated into two categories: criminal and aggravated criminal. Criminal sexual assault involves used or threatened force. The defendant either knew the victims did not understand the nature of the act or could not consent, or there was a position of trust or authority involved.
The same situations described above apply to criminal aggravated sexual assault; however, certain factors like the use of a dangerous weapon, threats to the victim’s life, and the age or mental status of the victim are taken into consideration. Aggravated sexual assault is charged as a Class 10 felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
For a defendant to be convicted of sexual assault, the prosecutor needs to prove that the incident happened “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Oftentimes, it is difficult to get a conviction.
Sexual assault in the civil justice system is considered an “intentional tort,” which means the victim can sue the attacker for wrongdoing. While a criminal case can offer the victim peace of mind that their attacker has been put away, a civil claim allows the victim to seek compensation for their losses, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Civil claims are separate from criminal cases, so an assault victim can file a civil suit even if the state has failed to file criminal charges. With a sexual assault lawsuit, there is a lower burden of proof that can bring justice faster.
Contact Thomas Law Offices
At Thomas Law Offices, we take sexual assault claims very seriously. In the event you or someone you know has been attacked, and you’re looking to pursue legal action, a Chicago sexual assault lawyer can help. No matter the path you choose to take, we will advocate for you and guide you through the legal process. Contact us today to learn more.