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Victims of Sexual Abuse and Rape

A rape or sexual assault is among the most horrifying and traumatic experiences a person may ever have to go through. Hopefully, the police are able to arrest the rapist or abuser, and prosecutors are able to obtain a conviction and an appropriate criminal sentence against the offender. While a criminal conviction may provide some measure of justice and satisfaction to the victim, often times it is not enough. Sexual abuse victims may face hospital bills and other medical expenses because of the assault, and may additionally have to deal with emotional trauma that lingers long after the attack. In these cases, the attorneys at Dupée & Monroe in Goshen help crime victims fight back against their abusers and obtain compensation to help them deal with the expenses brought on by the criminal act.

Civil Liability v. Criminal Liability

Different standards apply in civil cases than in criminal cases. In a criminal case, a person cannot be found guilty or convicted of a crime unless the state proves its case “beyond a reasonable doubt” to a unanimous jury. In a civil case, on the other hand, a person can be held liable if the plaintiff proves her case to a majority of the jury by a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning the evidence weighs more in favor of the plaintiff than the defendant. Given that a criminal conviction requires a much higher standard of proof, once a conviction has been obtained by the state, much of the work has already been done that is required to hold the defendant liable in civil court. Even if a conviction could not be obtained, or if the person was never prosecuted, this does not mean that a civil lawsuit cannot be won against an abuser.

Compensation for Crime Victims

In a civil lawsuit, the remedy most often awarded by the court is money damages. This money is meant to compensate the victim for the harm done to them, and can include damages such as doctor bills and medical expenses, including rehabilitation and psychological counseling; lost income for time missed from work, or if the victim can no longer continue at her job; physical pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Another category of compensation available in some civil cases is punitive damages. Rather than being meant to compensate the victim for harm, punitive damages are meant to punish the abuser for his violent acts and set an example to others that such conduct is unacceptable. Although punitive damages are difficult to obtain in most civil cases, they may be available in cases involving rape, sexual assault or other sexual abuse.

Parties other than the person who actually committed the crime may also be liable in a civil suit for sexual assault. These parties can include:

  • An employer of the criminal, if the crime happened on the job (e.g. a bouncer who assaults a patron or a supervisor who assaults an employee)
  • The owner of the premises where the crime occurred (e.g. a building owner who failed to install or maintain adequate lighting or security precautions)
  • A psychologist or other professional worker who failed to report the criminal plans of a person under their care
  • An agency or government entity that failed to respond to reports of criminal activity and thereby prevent further criminal activity
  • Any person or entity that aided or encouraged the criminal act

Get help from caring and dedicated New York lawyers for crime victims

If you or a loved one have been the victim of rape, sexual abuse or other violent crime in Orange County or surrounding areas, the attorneys at Dupée & Monroe, P.C. in Goshen will work to force those responsible to compensate you for their criminal acts or for allowing you to be victimized. Call 845-294-8900 to speak with an attorney.

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