Charleston Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Each year, countless individuals, young and old, are taken advantage of by someone else for that other person’s gratification.
Sometimes, this unwanted, inappropriate contact happens once, and at other times, it goes on for a prolonged period. Sometimes victims and their perpetrators know each other as they reside in the same home, and other times, they are bosses, so-called friends or romantic partners, teachers, and countless other relations, and then also strangers.
Ask any Charleston sexual abuse lawyer, and they’ll tell you that each case is different, but one way in which they overlap is that cases like these leave a lasting impact on victims.
Our legal team has long been advocating for sexual assault and abuse survivors like yourself, and we want to support you and do our part to restore that part of you that was lost when you were victimized.
While that may seem like a lofty goal, we have seen with past clients, that receiving compensation to secure the right mental health and other support can help victims regain some sense of what was lost, allowing them to go on and lead more productive lives than they might have otherwise expected.
We want to help give you the best opportunity to thrive as well.
Our work together can’t commence until we’ve had a chance to discuss the unfortunate series of events you went through and your rights. Contact our law firm for a free, no-risk, no-obligation consultation so we can discuss your legal options.
What Qualifies as Sexual Abuse
Our state’s laws distinguish between sexual assault and abuse. Some of our most notable state laws that give insight into what constitutes sexual abuse include:
- West Virginia Code §61-8B-7: This state law describes any sexual contact that occurs without prior consent as abuse. This includes forcible compulsion, acts forced upon a physically helpless individual, or an individual age 14 or older engaging in sexual acts with someone under 12.
- West Virginia Code §61-8B-8: This section is how our state code sees a situation in which someone subjects a mentally incapacitated or defective individual to sexual contact as abuse.
- West Virginia Code §61-8B-9: This law specifies how instances in which someone subjects another to sexual contact in a situation where the victim isn’t of age to consent due to their age (being less than 16).
We want to clarify which acts may constitute sexual abuse aside from how they’re described in the West Virginia criminal codes above. Sexual abuse and neglect also include:
- Sex trafficking
- Threatening to inflict sexual violence
- Unwanted touching
- Verbalized sexual harassment
- Child molestation
- Statutory rape (sexual activity between two individuals, where one is below the age of 16, West Virginia’s age of consent)
- Secretly photographing or filming someone without their knowledge or consent (voyeurism)
- Sending or allowing sexually explicit material to be disseminated using an electronic device (i.e., child pornography or sexting)
- Attempted or completed physical, sexual assaults like rape
If you’ve been subjected to any of the treatment above or something similar, or you have a minor child who has, please get in touch with our law firm, Hendrickson & Long, PLLC. We have a lengthy track record of representing clients who’ve fallen victim to institutional sex abuse and other illicit acts and want to support you in holding liable parties accountable for their actions.
Common Perpetrators of Sex Abuse
Our law firm, Hendrickson & Long, PLLC, has a longstanding track record of representing clients who have survived sexual abuse inflicted upon them by:
- Teachers and professors
- Colleagues and supervisors
- Members of the clergy, including pastors
- Daycare workers
- Afterschool program providers
- Mental health counselors, social workers, and therapists
- Dance teachers
- Nursing home staff members
- Doctors and other medical professionals
- Boy Scout leaders
- Foster parents
- Summer camp counselors
The list of potential perpetrators described above is far from comprehensive.
If you follow the news, it’s likely that you’ve heard of massage parlor owners, casinos, hotels and resorts, nightclubs, retail establishments, rideshare drivers, utility workers, criminal elements like drug cartels and prostitution rings, prison guards and police officers, and even attorneys sexually taking advantage of unsuspecting victims.
Rest assured, no matter who violated your rights, a Charleston sexual abuse lawyer is ready to take them on to ensure justice gets served.
Defendants We’ve Sued for Abuse
While we’ve certainly pursued legal claims against the individual perpetrators referenced above, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse, we’ve also been able to hold the following additional parties who either hired or who were otherwise affiliated with the perpetrator or owned the property where it occurred accountable for their role in facilitating it, including:
- Recreational centers
- Nursing homes, along with long-term care or assisted living facilities
- Schools, including colleges and universities
- Doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other medical facilities
- Daycare centers
- Commercial property owners (landlords) of office buildings, apartment complexes, and parking garages
- Churches and other religious institutions
- Government agencies and their contractors, such as social services agencies and prisons, that turned a blind eye to safety
- Many others
Your Rights as a Sexual Abuse Victim
Most of these sex acts would typically fall under the umbrella of criminal offenses, as suggested above.
If they did, then the onus would typically fall on you, your parent or guardian, or a mandated reporter to let the police know about what happened so they can investigate and communicate with prosecutors, who will ultimately decide whether to press criminal charges.
There are different case filing deadlines and burdens of proof applicable in criminal versus civil cases, though.
Here at our Charleston law firm, Hendrickson Long, PLLC, we handle civil matters. While it doesn’t hurt if a criminal case has been filed and won by prosecutors in these cases, it’s not necessary to file a civil claim to recover financial compensation for the losses, like counseling, etc., you sustained because of the inappropriate actions of others.
What Statute of Limitations Apply to West Virginia Sex Abuse Cases?
On March 25, 2020, then-Governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, signed a new law affecting child sexual abuse victims into effect. It gives those plaintiffs either until the age of 36 or four years after realizing their abuse, the right to bring a claim. The latest of the two dates prevails.
This updated statute also paved the way for victims to sue not only the actual perpetrator of the abuse but also individuals and organizations that aided, abetted, or concealed the sexual assault or abuse.
Additionally, the new law grandfathered in victims previously precluded from pursuing claims because they weren’t able to do so under the previous statute in place. The updated statute also allows those with previously denied claims to file suit.
Our state’s laws give adults who’ve endured sexual abuse two years after being victimized to file a personal injury action.
Damages You Can Recover in a Sex Abuse Case
In filing a lawsuit, you might be able to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic losses you sustained, including:
- Medical bills associated with receiving abuse-related care, such as mental health counseling, whether you’ve already received it or it’s anticipated that you’ll need future support
- Lost wages associated with you having missed work after you were abused
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life
Recovering punitive damages, which are imposed against defendants to dissuade them (and others) from repeating similar bad acts in the future, may also be possible in cases like these.
How Our Attorneys Can Help You in Seeking Justice
Whereas prosecutors rely on evidence compiled by police and conduct further investigations that may amass additional information of evidentiary value before and after they bring criminal charges against defendants alleged to have committed unlawful acts, the entire responsibility to build your civil case rests on your shoulders.
If you worry how digging deeper to amass evidence to prove the sexual abuse allegations is going to potentially adversely impact your mental health, reopening wounds you’ve put in significant time to heal, that is where a Charleston sexual abuse lawyer can be of great assistance.
From the time of your initial consultation with one of our attorneys to the conclusion of your case, should you hire a lawyer at our firm to represent you, you can expect us to:
- Assess whether you have a valid claim per West Virginia law
- Identify the perpetrator and all other possible co-defendants, including institutions they might have worked for or been affiliated with at the time
- Advise you of your rights and legal options afforded to you by our state’s laws
- File a lawsuit if that’s the option you decide works best for you, and take any other legal action necessary to stop ongoing sexual abuse
- Diligently and privately investigate what happened to you and uncover whether others may have also suffered a similar fate
- Source evidence that supports your claims and strengthens your case
- Negotiating an out-of-court settlement in your case that takes into account the magnitude of the harm it caused you or taking the case to trial should securing a fair award during the pre-litigation process not be attainable
We should note that, in terms of going to trial, while each of our firm’s skilled litigators prepare every case as if we were going to resolve it in the courtroom to ensure it’s as strong as possible, our experience is that we’re able to resolve most cases successfully out of court.
Since we understand how the prospect of hearing evidence presented or having to testify at trial has the potential of compounding the trauma you’ve already experienced, we ensure you’re involved in the decision-making about whether to accept out-of-court settlement offers or to proceed to trial if that time comes.
Why We Want To Help You
Our firm has a longstanding history of advocating for victims who’ve suffered preventable injuries.
And, as you’re well aware if you or a loved one has suffered sexual abuse, then the long-term implications associated with having been mistreated can be far-reaching.
We want to help you find the financial support you need to reimburse the losses you’ve unnecessarily incurred after what you went through, and to ensure you have the means to afford the high-quality care you’re bound to need in the future to continue coping with common issues like flashbacks, anxiety, nightmares, and any other unfortunate symptoms of trauma that sex abuse survivors like yourself often continue to experience across their lifetime.
Contact our law firm, Hendrickson & Long, PLLC, for attentive, compassionate support.
We’ll put you in touch with one of our experienced Charleston sexual abuse lawyers who will have you share a bit of information about what you’ve been through before advising you of the legal options West Virginia law allows you to pursue in cases like yours.
This initial consultation is completely free, and we don’t charge anything to represent you unless we secure a settlement on your behalf.