Sexual Assault Lawyers in Kansas City, MO, Helping Victims Take Back Their Lives
Statistically, we know that approximately 433,648 people 12 years of age or older are sexually assaulted in the United States every year. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)—the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States—one American experiences sexual abuse every 73 seconds. Unfortunately, only 5 out of every 1,000 sexual perpetrators will ever end up behind bars for their crimes. This is a tragic and unacceptable statistic, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have options after experiencing such violence. Sexual assault lawyers in Kansas City, MO, can help you fight back.
At Mohlman Gurney Injury Law, we understand that our law firm cannot fix every problem in the legal system that allows so many attackers to go unpunished. However, we can help the sexual abuse survivors we speak with better understand how to get justice. Sexual assault can be criminally prosecuted and punished by jail time, but this is rarely enough to help with healing. Individuals who have suffered sexual abuse can bring civil charges against their attacker completely independent of criminal proceedings. Our compassionate Kansas City personal injury attorneys will work relentlessly to hold the perpetrator accountable and get you fairly compensated. Contact us today for a free consultation.
How do Criminal Sexual Assault Proceedings Differ From Civil Proceedings?
In a criminal sexual abuse case, the prosecutor must deliver evidence that a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high burden of proof, and the sexual abuser will likely have a defense attorney striving to get them exonerated. If the prosecution is successful, the defendant will be convicted and penalized. Those penalties can include fines, imprisonment, and registration as a sex offender. This is the most that criminal courts can do in Kansas City sexual abuse cases. And while an abuse survivor will likely have to testify in court, a criminal conviction will do nothing to compensate them for the damage inflicted.
Criminal cases are focused on the punishment of the offender, not the healing of the victim. When civil litigation is filed, the lawsuit against the defendant will focus on the harm that was caused to the victim. This can vary based on the circumstances of the sexual abuse claim. The burden of proof is lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a civil lawsuit. Although there is no civil action for sexual assault, there are others that may be available. These include assault and battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or even negligent infliction of emotional distress if witnesses or bystanders failed to intervene.
There may also be the opportunity to bring a claim against a third party that had some responsibility for the assault. Such examples include hotels or nightclubs that lack proper security—or an employer that failed to properly screen new hires. These parties rarely face any consequences in criminal courts since—in many cases—their negligence does not constitute a criminal act. A skilled Kansas City sexual assault attorney can look at all the factors surrounding a case and help determine the best course of action for sexual abuse victims.
What are the Different Types of Sexual Abuse?
There is no “typical” victim of sexual abuse. Survivors of such incidents react and cope in varying ways. However, it’s important to note that the responses of abuse and sexual assault survivors can differ based on the type of abuse they face. People often view sexual abuse cases as singular events involving a singular behavior, but there are several forms of abuse that fall under this umbrella. These include:
- Rape: Any sexual acts that involve some form of intercourse or penetration—even with inanimate objects—will typically qualify as rape. This term is often used interchangeably with “sexual assault,” but the latter often covers a larger variety of potential acts.
- Sexual harassment: Harassment can constitute another form of sexual abuse. While it can be physical in nature (e.g., improper touching in the workplace), verbal sexual harassment can also cause emotional distress, lost income, and several other detrimental outcomes.
- Statutory rape: Sexual activity with someone too young to consent is always considered sexual assault. Even if you thought certain activities were consensual when you were younger, the consequences of such an improper relationship can have life-long effects.
- Incest: Incestual relationships often involve an unbalanced power dynamic. Such sexual abuse often starts when one party is too young to consent. However, sexual abusers can also use their position as trusted family members to take advantage of adult relatives.
- Sexual molestation: Molestation is typically defined as sexually abusive behavior that doesn’t reach the level of rape. Like other terms, the exact legal definition can vary by jurisdiction. This terminology is usually reserved for the inappropriate touching of children.
If you’ve experienced any of these actions, a sexual abuse attorney may be able to help. Keep in mind that this list may not be exhaustive, and the definition of all these abuse types can vary based on where you reside. The most important thing to remember, though, is that you should reach out for help if you’ve been sexually abused. The local authorities can handle criminal prosecution, so your abuser doesn’t get away with their actions, but a personal injury law firm can also help you hold your attacker accountable in civil court.
Can Financial Compensation Help a Sexual Assault Survivor?
According to NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center,) “nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives.” This could stem from stranger assaults, clergy members, negligent hiring practices, and a host of other factors. Regardless of the underlying circumstances, the fact is that sexual abuse occurs far too frequently. Financial compensation cannot remove the physical and emotional devastation of an assault, but it can help survivors cover expenses for their losses and get some sense of justice.
To understand how recovering compensation in a sexual abuse case can help victims, one need only look at the common physical injuries sustained during such assaults. Each of these can lead to the need for medical treatment, and receiving constant bills in the mail will only be a reminder of how a perpetrator unfairly interfered with your life. Such injuries include:
- Cuts, abrasions, lacerations
- Injuries from the assault
- Injuries from restraints
- An unwanted pregnancy
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depression and anxiety
Financial compensation can pay for these damages in the way of medical costs, emergency treatment, psychological or psychiatric care, and loss of wages. Such compensation may also focus on covering non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. In many cases, an assault victim can obtain punitive damages as well. This is an additional court award that serves as a form of disciplinary action against the defendant to reduce the likelihood that their predator behavior will occur again in the future.
Kansas City sexual abuse survivors will face long periods of time where they question why such an event happened to them. A therapist can help get through this far better than an attorney can—but an attorney can make sure you have the capability of seeking such treatment.
Do I Need a Sexual Abuse Attorney?
When you report sexual abuse in the Kansas City area, you probably won’t need a lawyer as the case makes its way through the criminal courts. The prosecuting attorney will work with you to ensure the justice system does its job. If you’re hoping to receive monetary compensation for the damages inflicted upon you, though, having an experienced legal representative on your side can prove invaluable. Statistics repeatedly prove that those represented by attorneys are more successful on average when they try to obtain compensation.
Additionally, you may face a situation where there’s not enough evidence to convict your attacker. This is how many abusers avoid prison sentences. Fortunately, the failure of the criminal courts to obtain justice does not mean a civil suit will fail. As mentioned earlier, the burden of proof is far less stringent in civil sexual abuse cases. This is why survivors in Kansas City, MO, should not hesitate to reach out for legal help. Civil attorneys can conduct independent research and help prove your case even when criminal charges don’t stick.
Too many survivors think there’s no way to get justice, but our legal team is committed to ensuring this isn’t the case. Sexual abuse is a tragedy when it occurs, but at Mohlman Gurney Injury Law, we’re ready to stand by your side and fight to help you get justice.
Contact Our Sexual Assault Lawyers in Kansas City, MO, Today
For those who survive a sexual assault, the physical and emotional scars can last a lifetime. Sexual abuse can occur in many forms, but the outcomes are frequently similar. Survivors can face years of medical expenses for both physical and psychological injuries. Even in the absence of ongoing medical bills, the emotional distress experienced by sexually abused individuals can interfere with every aspect of their lives. No one should ever have to face sexual abuse in any form, but if the worst should happen, it’s important that they have a legal advocate on their side to help navigate the justice system and hold attackers accountable.
At Mohlman Gurney Injury Law, LLC, our caring and compassionate Kansas City sexual assault lawyers are there for you. We understand the sensitivity of this time, and we can help provide the legal assistance you need after a devastating sexual assault. We offer a no-cost confidential consultation so we can discuss your case and your options under the law. You pay no legal fees unless we recover compensation for you. Contact us today by calling (816) 648-6000 and speak with Kansas City sexual assault lawyers who are ready to fight for you.