Sexual Assault Victim Post
This wasn’t the kind of headline you were expecting in a sexual harassment blog! We wrote it to get your attention (although the story is true).
We certainly don’t believe violence is a way of fixing serious problems such as sexual assault. When people don’t feel like the system works, however, they sometimes take the law into their own hands.
A mob in South Africa confronted a man believed to have raped a 14 year old child and an 18 year old. A resident who witnessed the assaults summoned a mob, some of whom were armed with knives and sticks.
Instead of turning over the suspect to authorities, they instead became vigilantes. The mob beat the man to death and “hacked off” his testicles. The man bled to death before he could be taken to the hospital.
Two other suspects escaped the mob. Police are still searching for those suspects. (We hope the police find them before local residents do.)
The police are investigating the suspect’s death as a homicide but no arrests have been made.
Justice for Sexual Assault Victims in the United States
Justice thankfully is more civilized in the United States. There are many countries where sexual assaults aren’t taken seriously. Thankfully, most police officers, prosecutors, judges and healthcare professionals in the United States do take them extremely seriously.
That said, most victims still don’t report sexual assaults to the police. Estimates are only between 15% and 35% of rapes are reported to police in the United States.
Why Most Rapes Are Not Reported
There are many reasons why most rapes are not reported. They include:
- Shame and stigma some feel in same sex rape
- Fear of reprisal
- Fear they won’t be believed
- Victim was intoxicated and fears (s)he won’t be believed
- Don’t want family / significant other to know
- Don’t want community / co-workers to know
- Belief that police won’t do anything
- Reported to physician or therapist instead of police
- Offender is family member / acquaintance and did not want to get offender in trouble
- Fear of testifying at trial
- Don’t know how to report
- 8% of victims feel rape isn’t important enough to report
There is certainly room for more education but reporting a sexual assault to the police remains a very personal decision. Sadly, statistics reveal that even when reported, many accused rapists are not prosecuted or never spend a day in jail. That certainly impacts on the decision of many to report or not report.
Unfortunately, a small minority of people falsely report sexual assaults – that number is estimated to be between 2% and 10%. When victims watch TV and see people like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (the woman who accused now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assault) being ridiculed by TV pundits and even the President and accused of being a liar, it sends a powerful message that rape victims aren’t to be believed.
Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Assault
As private lawyers, we can’t put people in prison for their heinous crimes. (As a former prosecutor, I locked up plenty!)
The civil justice system is limited in what it offers. A civil judge and jury can’t put an offender in jail, can’t undo the crime and can’t restore all that was lost by the victims. Unfortunately, except for making the streets safer by locking up offenders, the criminal justice system is also limited in its powers.
As civil lawyers, however, we can get vindication. We can make sure an offender is held financially responsible for his or her crimes. And we can often use the power of the purse to make sure employers, schools, and building owners make their properties safer or do a better job of screening workers.
Premises Liability and Third Parties
One area where the civil justice system has a clear advantage is holding third parties responsible. Let’s say you live in an apartment building. Several assaults have taken place there. The landlord knows of the dangers yet is too cheap to upgrade security lighting, fix broken fences, install better windows and locks or hire a guard service.
When an assault takes place, if caught, the offender may go to jail. But that does little to protect the remaining residents of the building. No one, not even the victim, is safe from future assaults.
The police can’t arrest the building owner but a multimillion lawsuit will certainly get the owner’ attention.
The owner realizes it is cheaper and preferable to keep tenants and visitors safe than to write multimillion checks.
The same is true for the business that hires a violent sexual predator simply because they were too cheap to pay $100 for a background check.
No business or building owner can stop every assault but they can be held financially responsible when they fail to take adequate precautions.
Victims of Sexual Assault Have Rights
If you or a loved one was the victim of a sexual assault, call us. We can help assess your case and give you a realistic explanation of what to expect should you file a lawsuit. There is never any fee for an initial consultation. Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis.
About us. We are a national boutique law firm that helps victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Brian Mahany is a former police officer, prosecutor and board member of the Family Violence Project. All inquiries are kept complete confidential. There is never any pressure.
For more information, contact us online, by email at [hidden email] or by phone at 877.858.8018.