Institutional Sexual Abuse Lawyers in Los Angeles
Institutions and organizations play a vital role in American society. They facilitate economic growth, provide essential services, and offer a sense of belonging and community.
Institutions have a duty to protect their members, especially the most vulnerable. But all too often, individuals within these organizations engage in sexual abuse, harassment, or assault.
As Los Angeles institutional sexual abuse lawyers, we’ve seen the devastating impact of abuse on survivors and their families. Survivors can suffer long-lasting physical, emotional, and psychological damage. They can lose their trust in the institutions meant to protect them. At Boucher LLP, we aim to empower survivors to seek justice and hold responsible institutions accountable.
What Is Institutional Sexual Assault and Abuse?
California law defines sexual “battery” or assault as touching another person’s intimate part without consent. While the touch must be to an intimate part (including a female’s breast), it can be accomplished through clothing or directly to the skin. To be a crime, the perpetrator must have initiated the touching for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. It becomes sexual abuse when the perpetrator intends to abuse the person or cause them pain, injury, or discomfort. Sexual activity that victimizes a minor is child abuse.
Institutions and organizations inherently involve power dynamics that subject innocent people to criminal perpetrators. Individuals who use their position of power to exploit and abuse others can exist in:
- Churches and religious organizations;
- Schools, universities, and other educational institutions;
- Youth camps and organizations (like Boy Scouts of America);
- Athletic programs (including USA Gymnastics);
- Foster care and runaway homes;
- Hospitals and medical facilities;
- Nursing homes;
- Non-profits, missions, and charitable groups; and
- Homeless shelters.
If you or your loved one have experienced sexual abuse due to the negligence of an institution, you have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against the responsible organization. At Boucher LLP, our Los Angeles Institutional Sexual Abuse Attorneys have a proven record with complex legal cases involving multi-layered organizations. You don’t have to face this alone. We are dedicated to advocating for you in your sexual abuse case and bringing the organization to justice.
Institutions Must Prevent Sexual Abuse or Face Severe Consequences
When the organization fails to condemn sexual predators, it can foster a culture of secrecy and shame for survivors. A culture of hiding abuse incidents prevents information about a sexual assault from becoming public and allows perpetrators to continue their abusive behavior. While no institution is immune to wrongdoers, organizations must take reasonable steps to prevent abuse. There must be preventative measures for hiring, transferring, and disciplining employees, such as background checks and zero-tolerance policies. If the organization fails to take action, it is negligent and can be legally responsible for the incident.
The California Child Victims Act requires organizations that cover up sexual abuse to pay three times the usual damages. The term “coverup” refers to an active effort to conceal evidence of abuse. This could include failing to report abuse to authorities, discouraging survivors from reporting, or retaliating against them. By imposing more severe damages for organizations that engage in coverups, the law aims to deter coverups and ensure survivors receive fair compensation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
The time to file a lawsuit after you experience sexual abuse depends on how old you were when the abuse happened.
Childhood Sexual Abuse
The California Child Victims Act, passed in 2019, extended the time for survivors to file suit for childhood sexual assault. If you were under 18 when the sexual abuse occurred, you have 22 years from your 18th birthday to sue, unless you discover psychological impacts outside of this window. If you discover a psychological illness or injury after your 40th birthday, you have five years from the date of discovery. If filing under this “discovery rule,” the institution must have known about the perpetrator’s previous misconduct that created a risk for abuse.
Sexual Abuse After Your 18th Birthday
The Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act opened a one-year window for new lawsuits by adult survivors against responsible entities, regardless of the date of the abuse. If you were over 18 when the abuse occurred, you have until December 31, 2023, to file a suit against an institution without a time limitation. After this date, the general rule limits suits to within 10 years of the abuse or three years of discovering an injury. If you believe an institution is responsible for your abuse, you must act quickly so you do not miss your chance to seek justice.
Boucher LLP: Supporting Survivors of Institutional Sexual Abuse
The attorneys at Boucher LLP have a track record of success in holding institutions and organizations responsible for sexual abuse. We understand the specific concerns of survivors. We prioritize telling your story to convey what happened and how it has affected you. In the early 2000s, we helped hundreds of sexual abuse survivors speak out against the Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The case resulted in a million-dollar settlement and required the church to release its personnel files publicly. The files contained documents, memos, and letters that outlined the church’s extensive efforts to cover up the abuse.
When you come to Boucher LLP for help, we will listen to your story. We care deeply about our clients and handle each case as if we were a family member. We take a tactical approach, making sure to convey all aspects of the abuse you have endured. We dedicate ourselves to making sure you feel comfortable throughout the case.
Financial compensation can never make up for being assaulted, but it can help pay for medical bills and therapy costs. Our goal is to guide you through the legal process, from collecting evidence to securing justice. We understand that there may be hesitation in coming forward. However, we promise to treat you with compassion so that you can heal and reclaim your power.
Our extensive network of medical professionals and dedication to advocating for our clients ensures that you are never alone in their journey to recovery. We focus on holding organizations, institutions, and employers accountable for failing to protect you. You can trust our legal team to fight for you and help you reach peace and closure. Contact us today.