Sexual Abuse Lawyer FAQ



What should I do if I’ve been sexually abused or I know someone who’s been abused?

Immediately report the incidents to the police. Insist that a detective trained in sexual assault cases be assigned to investigate. Many police agencies have specially trained sexual assault investigators who are trained to obtain information that a uniformed officer simply is not prepared for. These specially trained officers will be able to provide you with information on who else can help you in these circumstances.

Immediately have a hospital or your own doctor examine the victim for any physical signs of sexual contact and to test for sexually transmitted diseases. Do not wait to be medically cleared. If you wait too long, crucial evidence can be lost forever and compromise any claim you may have, whether it is a criminal or civil case.

Immediately contact a psychologist or counselor for yourself or your child. Many cities have specially trained counselors and treatment centers which provide the support needed after such a traumatic event. Failure to seek help can result in lifelong emotional and physical impairments that can affect the victim’s ability to live a normal and productive life. Failure to treat can also lead the victim to begin molesting others as a means of trying to control and make sense out of what happened to them. Many victims of abuse become addicted to drugs and alcohol as a means of burying the deep feelings of hurt and shame associated with being molested. Without early and consistent emotional support and competent professional psychological treatment, sexual abuse victims’ lives can be ruined or greatly impaired. Consequently, the lives of their loved ones are also then negatively affected. In addition to individual counseling, family counseling is often needed to help family members understand how to deal with this extraordinary intrusion into the family unit.

Immediately contact your local Victim-Witness program, which is typically administered and operated by the local county district attorney’s office. Most often, if a police officer is investigating the incident as a criminal matter, he or she can provide you with the contact information you will need. Once you have made contact with the program, they will guide you to counselors, physicians, or any other people they believe may be able to provide you with assistance, including payment of medical bills and lost income.

Immediately contact a civil lawyer who has significant experience in successfully handling these types of cases. The lawyer can help advise you on how the criminal system works although the district attorney is responsible for prosecuting any offender. The civil lawyer also has investigators help develop facts needed to obtain money damages for the victim. The civil lawyer can advise you on when or if it best to sue the offender and/or the offender’s employer. They can help find insurance money which may cover the incident in question. They can also protect your interests in the criminal case by being an advocate for you with the authorities.

Most importantly, they can stand up for you against powerful interests who may resist paying money if the stakes are high. An example of such a situation handled by this firm was the civil prosecution of a case against a church organization whose priest had molested a young boy over several years. The church fought hard to defeat the claim, but eventually was made to pay when we found evidence that the church had concealed its knowledge of the priest’s sexual misconduct with our client and other children.


Can I recover damages if I’ve been sexually abused?

Whether money can be recovered depends on a number of factors.

1. Was the sexual encounter or encounters consented to by adults? If so, there is no remedy for that, unless the encounter was made in the context of an unequal relationship. For example, consent is not presumed where a doctor, dentist, counselor, priest, employer, or other person with whom the victim has a relationship of trust with the offender. In fact, there are laws and rules of conduct which prohibit such contact unless consent has been discussed between the parties before hand.

If no such discussion has occurred, the law will presume that the victim has been taken advantage of by virtue of their weaker position in the relationship with the professional.

2. Was the sexual encounter or encounters between an adult and minor child?

It should be noted that a minor child under certain ages cannot consent even if they agree to the sexual encounter. State laws prevent children under 16 or sometimes 14 from consenting to sexual encounters. So, in a situation in which a youngster under the legal age of consent claims to have agreed to the sexual encounter with an adult or even another minor, that fact does not mean that they have not been abused; and it does not mean that they have not been damaged nor that they cannot claim money damages for this type of incident.

Unlike the case of an adult who is in a relationship of trust with a doctor, dentist, priest, scout leader, teacher, or other mentor type of relationship, consent is never presumed when the sexual encounter is between a minor child and adult.

The remedies a minor has vary. They have a claim for all the same damages outlined above. They can recoup money from the offender and sometimes from the offender’s employer, if the sexual encounter was accomplished while the offender was working in the course and scope of his/her employment and the offender’s relationship with the victim has some relation to the work being performed. For example, if a priest works with an altar boy and molests him, the priest and church can be held responsible for the damage if there is a sufficient connection between the sexual encounter and the activities under which the two people came in contact. Similarly, if a teacher molests a student at school, the teacher and school district may be responsible for the child’s harm.

To find out if you have a case, or just to ask questions, please call us. Our sexual abuse attorneys at Black Chapman Petersen & Stevens and our professional staff will get to know you and your situation well, because the better we know you, the better we can represent you. Call Toll-Free 800-525-2099 for a FREE CONSULTATION

Don’t delay. Contact our law firm today to arrange a free consultation and case evaluation. Call our main office toll free 800-525-2099. With offices located throughout Southern Oregon and Northern California we can serve you no matter where you are located.


What do I do if I am sexually harassed on the job?

Immediately let the person harassing you that the actions/statements are unwanted and then report the incident to your supervisor or company owner. Also, have any witnesses give written statements to you of what they witnessed. Keep a journal of the incidents if there is more than one incident. Keep reporting the incidents.

If the employer or owner does not take effective immediate remedial action against the offender, report the problem to either the state or federal labor commissions. In Oregon, it is the Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the federal government operated the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Either one of these entities can take your complaint, investigate it, and provide you with their findings which can help you in the event you decide to sue the offender and/or the company for sexual harassment or for maintaining a hostile work environment.


Can sexual comments on the job be a form of sex abuse?

Yes. But this type of sex abuse is called sexual harassment or hostile work environment. There are state and federal laws prohibiting this behavior. Statements suggesting sexual encounters or physical touching with the intent to arouse either person can be sexual harassment.


What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual Abuse is the unlawful or non-consensual touching of one person’s body, most commonly private sexual parts, by another human being. It includes, but is not limited to actions such as rape, sodomy, oral copulation, fondling private parts, and even kissing.

Sexual abuse of anyone (adult or child) is a crime and is punishable by imprisonment and fines. The type of punishment depends on the nature of the incident(s), the particulars of the facts, and the government’s ability to prove the offender’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Criminal prosecution of a sexual abuser is not the only remedy. There are civil remedies for money damages that the victim suffers. Medical and psychiatric bills, lost income, emotional trauma, the suffering of you and (sometimes your spouse) may be compensable.

Call us before making a statement or signing any settlement form. Before you make a statement to an insurance company representative or sign any type of settlement agreement, contact our law firm to arrange a free confidential consultation with an attorney regarding your sexual abuse case.

Call Toll-Free 800-525-2099 for a FREE CONSULTATION

Don’t delay. Contact our law firm today to arrange a free consultation and case evaluation. Call our main office toll free 800-525-2099. From offices in Medford, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Bandon and Yreka, our attorneys serve clients throughout Oregon and Northern California.

Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of Black, Chapman, Petersen & Stevens represent clients throughout Oregon and Northern California, including but not limited to the residents of Jackson County, Josephine County, Klamath County, Coos County, Curry County, Douglas County, Lane County, Deschutes County, Lake County, Del Norte County, Siskiyou County, Modoc County, Humbolt County, Trinity County, Shasta County and Lassen County.


Can I keep my case from becoming public knowledge, even if I want to pursue the case in court?

Yes and no. In the criminal context, a victim’s name can be sealed, but  in the event of a trial, the victim has to be prepared to testify against the  offender. And while children can often testify by a video feed from another room  outside the courtroom, adult victims will usually have to testify while facing  the offender in court. People will see the victim and to that extent, your  identity will become

News media will usually keep the victims name anonymous; and some states have  privacy laws protecting victims’ identities from public disclosure.

If you make a claim to an insurance company representing the offender, they  will know the victim’s identity but will be motivated to keep the information  private out of concern for the reputation of the person or entity they insure,  if not out of concern for the victim.

In a civil suit for money damages, the victim’s name can be disguised, usually as Jane Doe or John Doe. However, the offender’s attorney and offender  will usually know the victim’s identity, either from discovering it during the  pendency of the criminal or civil case, or more likely, because they are already  familiar with the victim. Remember, many cases of sex abuse are committed by  people who know the victim.


What should I do if I’ve been sexually abused?


If you have a personal injury, workers' compensation, social security disability, elder or nursing home abuse, or sexual abuse case, please contact Black, Chapman, Petersen & Stevens by filling out the form below. The consultation is free and we only receive compensation if we obtain benefits for you.


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