Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Nationwide Advocacy for Sexual Violence Victims
Victims of sexual abuse, rape, or other sex crimes often feel lost and unable to figure out how to get justice in the legal system. At Sanford Heisler Sharp we have extensive expertise in holding liable not only the individual perpetrator but also the institutions that allowed the crimes to happen. Our attorneys draw on more than 30 years of experience in victim advocacy to provide survivors with exceptional legal representation in their efforts to find some measure of justice.
What is Sexual Abuse?
As defined by the American Psychological Association (APA), sexual abuse is considered “unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats, or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.” This definition is broadly used in criminal and civil lawsuit applications, too.
Importantly, the law does not consider it possible for a minor to provide consent to sexual activities. As such, many sexual abuse lawsuits are filed by the parents of children who have been sexually exploited by people of authority.
Who are the Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse?
Sanford Heisler Sharp brings cases against any party or institution that carries out or enabled sexual abuse. We have a proven record of taking on even the most powerful of perpetrators in order to help our clients.
In many cases, sexual abuse defendants are in the fields of:
- Education: Professors, teachers, universities, colleges, etc.
- Religion: Pastors, priests, Catholic dioceses, churches, etc.
- Healthcare: Doctors, gynecologists, medical institutions, etc.
- Sports: Coaches, trainers, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, etc.
- Youth care: Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, daycares, etc.
What to Do If You are a Victim of Sexual Abuse
The trauma of surviving sexual abuse or sexual assault can make it difficult to speak up against the person or party that harmed you. It can take years for people to regain the confidence needed to make such strong accusations. Even if the sexual assault is known by the public, such as in cases involving criminal prosecution of the perpetrator, it can still be difficult to come forward with a civil lawsuit.
Our team at Sanford Heisler Sharp is here to support you from the beginning of your case to its conclusion and beyond. We know that making the decision to bring a case against a sexual abuser is painful. Let us support you and show you that you are not alone.
What Compensation is Available for Sexual Abuse Victims?
No amount of money can undo the harm that you have endured as a sexual abuse survivor. However, financial compensation can help you start to piece your life back together. Many people who suffer from sexual abuse struggle to hold gainful employment due to trust and fear issues, and they often need years of psychiatric therapy. A civil claim against the sexual offender who hurt you could give you the financial stability that you have always deserved.
Compensation in a sexual abuse lawsuit can include:
- Any related medical or psychiatric care costs.
- Wages you are unable to earn due to mental trauma.
- Compensation for the pain and emotional distress you experienced and continue to experience.
- Punitive damages to punish the offender and the institution that harbored them.
What is the Role of an Attorney in Sexual Abuse Cases?
Our role as your attorneys in a civil sexual abuse lawsuit will be to guide you through all steps of your case, represent you before the court and when dealing with opposing parties, and put your worries at ease. Our role is to make sure you are comfortable and confident. Sanford Heisler Sharp is known across the country for being able to passionately advocate for our clients, stand up to stubborn defendants, and provide real moral support.
Types of Sexual Abuse Cases We Handle
Our attorneys are knowledgeable and well-prepared to help survivors through the criminal and civil justice systems. We have successfully litigated cases involving Title IX, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and more.
When sexual violence occurs at a school, we hold educational institutions liable under Title IX for failing to prevent sexual violence, properly investigate allegations, or provide adequate accommodations to the survivor. Title IX claims can be brought against any education program that receives federal money, including colleges, universities, K-12 schools, and sometimes private schools. Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp have achieved excellent results in Title IX cases against Columbia University; Towson University; Old Dominion University; Morgan State University; the Montgomery County, Maryland School Board; and the Prince George’s County, Maryland School Board.
Child Sexual Abuse
Our attorneys routinely pursue cases against institutions, such as schools and daycares, that fail to keep children safe from sexual abuse. Any person or organization charged with the duty to protect minors can be held liable when an employee or volunteer has sexual contact with a child. Because many states have extended deadlines for child sex abuse cases, you may have a viable claim even if the crime occurred long ago. Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp have vast experience litigating child sexual abuse cases and have helped clients in their claims against powerful entities including the Catholic Church, Celebree, Old Dominion University, and St. Paul’s School.
Survivors of rape and sexual violence can file a civil lawsuit against the individual perpetrator, even if no criminal charges are brought or if the perpetrator was found not guilty during the criminal trial. Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp have brought suits against many perpetrators, including a Major League Baseball player accused of rape, a CEO who sexually assaulted a woman who did training for his company, and a psychiatrist who sexually abused his patient.
What Makes Sanford Heisler Sharp Unique?
In the wake of landmark cases against Larry Nassar, Jeffrey Epstein, and others, many law firms claim to be experts in representing survivors. Yet we are confident that there is no law firm quite like ours.
Sanford Heisler Sharp's Sexual Violence Litigation group is different in three primary ways:
- We take a victim-centered approach. Our attorneys and staff are specially trained in trauma-informed advocacy. We also work closely with treating mental health providers, trauma experts, and non-profit partners to minimize the impact of the legal system on our clients and work creatively to achieve results that help our clients move forward and heal.
- In addition to representing sex crime survivors in their civil suits, we advocate for our clients as they navigate the criminal prosecution of the perpetrator. Our team helps protect a survivor’s individual rights in the criminal justice process, including the right to privacy, protection, and restitution. The sexual violence litigation group is co-led by Steven Kelly – an advocate who helped to draft a number of crime victim protections and to enact them into law, and Christine Dunn – a former federal prosecutor who applied these laws in a real-world context. Our team has achieved great results in strengthening and applying the protections that every victim is entitled to.
- We have the resources necessary to bring multi-victim cases against powerful institutions. Sanford Heisler Sharp is one of the leading civil rights class action firms in the country with record civil rights verdicts and settlements. We have brought the firm’s class action expertise to bear in a number of multi-victim sexual violence cases, including cases against Dartmouth College and Columbia University.
Explore Your Legal Options Now
If you or a member of your family is a survivor of a sex crime, please contact Sanford Heisler Sharp's Sexual Violence Litigation group to discuss your potential legal claims. We can help you find justice, compensation, and a sense of closure. All consultations with our firm are kept strictly confidential.