“Traumatized people suffer damage to the basic structures of the self.
They lose trust in themselves, in other people, in God…
The identity they have formed prior to the trauma is irrevocably destroyed.”
The Law Office of J. Michael Solar PLLC understands rape and sexual assault and proceeds with respect and empathy for its clients. The firm will commit its knowledge, skill and passion to right the wrong; and bring to bear the resources necessary to help its clients become victors.
Rape is a devastating crime. Survivors may endure permanent physical injuries from blunt trauma; some may become pregnant; and still others may contract sexually transmitted diseases as a result. While those injuries are dramatic, none is more difficult to treat than the invisible psychological trauma of being raped or sexually assaulted. Recovering from sexual trauma takes time, and the healing process can be painful and expensive. If the survivor is committed to right the wrong and undergo the necessary professional therapy, they will transcend mere survival. They can overcome and emerge wiser, stronger, and more resilient.
What Is Rape/Sexual Assault?
The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”
The Texas Attorney General tells us that “sexual assault is defined in several ways. Generally, sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact against any individual by another.”
The Houston Area Women’s Center defines sexual assault an “any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact against any individual by another using manipulation, pressure, tricks, coercion or physical force. It is any act a person is forced to perform or receive that includes touching of the genitals or breasts. This includes rape, sodomy, touching or oral sex where the victim is unwilling or unable to give verbal consent, including being under 17 years old, intoxicated, drugged or unconscious. Sexual violence can be committed by someone known to the survivor as well as a stranger.”
A National Disgrace
The incidence of rape and sexual assault is a national disgrace. Every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted. The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) indicates that an average of 293,066 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault are reported each year.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, reports that men, women, and children are all affected by sexual violence.
- 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).
- About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
- From 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse.
- Most child victims are 12-17. Of victims under the age of 18: 34% of victims of sexual assault and rape are under age 12, and 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are ages 12-17.
Lawsuit for Damages
While survivors of rape, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse usually know that offenders can be charged criminally, many are unaware that they may have a civil remedy against offenders, their employers (if the circumstances required background checks, policies & procedures, or supervision) or the owner of the premises where the crime occurred (poor lighting, lack of security, or defective security measures). A civil remedy not only serves to recover damages arising out of physical and psychological injuries, but medical expenses as well; a lawsuit serves not only to punish the offender and responsible third-parties, but to deter bad conduct that could result in repeated events.
Unlike a criminal proceeding, a civil lawsuit does not go to court. In fact, most cases are resolved outside of the courtroom. In clear cases, lawsuits may be resolved even before they are filed.
The Law Office of J. Michael Solar PLLC has successfully prosecuted lawsuits for rape and sexual assault on behalf of adults and children.
Who Can File a Lawsuit?
The main parties in a civil lawsuit are the Plaintiffs (survivor and their family) and Defendants (offender(s) and responsible third parties). Plaintiffs file the lawsuit, develop the case, have access to the facts revealed by their attorney’s investigation and decide if, or when, there is a settlement. The Plaintiff(s) in a civil lawsuit may be the survivor and his or her family: spouse, children or parents.
Under some circumstances a “third-party” defendant may be held liable for the survivor’s damages. Third-party defendants are not the offender, but instead are those persons who may have contributed to the sexual assault by failing to act in a reasonable manner under the circumstances.
Consider these examples of third-party defendants a survivor may sue:
- Landlords (apartments / apartment laundry facilities / apartment parking garages), who do not take reasonable security measures, such as lighting and appropriate windows and door locks;
- Commercial parking lots that do not provide adequate security measures, such as access control, adequate lighting or security;
- Shopping malls that do not provide adequate lighting, employ security guards or take other necessary measures, despite a likelihood of criminal attacks on customers;
- Private schools and colleges that fail to notify students of campus assaults or provide adequate security for students;
- Childcare centers, schools, recreational facilities, summer camps, and churches that do not properly check the backgrounds of their employees, or that simply transfer employees to other locations following allegations of abuse; or
- Bar owners who continue to serve alcohol to inebriated persons who subsequently injure other people, or even themselves, because of their intoxication.