According to the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN),
- an American is the victim of sexual assault every 68 seconds
- 90% of the victims of sexual assault are women
- 55% of the assaults take place at or near the victim’s home – often waking the victim from sleep
- 54% of those sexually assaulted are persons aged 18-34
- in 8 out of 10 sexual assaults, the victim and perpetrator know each other
Sexual assault is a violation of trust at an individual level that has societal implications. It often has a horrendous and debilitating effect on the survivor of the assault but it also has a profoundly negative impact on a community.
At Soloff & Zervanos, we don’t want anyone to have to experience a sexual assault but we cannot deny that they take place. Our sexual assault attorneys want to help you get justice for the inconceivable wrong that was done to you.
What is Sexual Assault in PA?
In Pennsylvania sexual assault occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person who has not agreed to do so. Sexual assaults become more specific crimes based on the circumstances involved in how they take place. The law presumes that persons in certain mental states and of certain ages are not legally capable of consenting to sexual intercourse.
- Rape – Sexual assault becomes a more serious crime when force or the threat of force is used and if the victim suffers from a mental impairment – either temporary or permanent.
- Statutory sexual assault – Society has decided that a sexual assault occurs when a person under 18 years old has sexual intercourse unless that person is at least 16 years old and the partner is no more than 4 years older or the partners are married.
- Deviant sexual intercourse – Sexual assault is deviant when penetration involves the mouth or anus.
Why Sexual Assaults are Under-reported
It is estimated that only about 30% of the sexual assaults that occur are reported to the police. There are a number of reasons that victims do not report incidents of sexual assault.
- fear of retaliation from the assailant
- don’t believe the police can or will do anything
- protecting the assailant
- believe it’s a private matter – don’t want to go public
Of those sexual assaults that are reported to police, only about 16% result in an arrest, and only half of those arrested will actually spend any time behind bars.
Because the penalty for committing a crime is a loss of freedom, it’s harder to convict a person of a crime than it is to convict a person of a wrong that results in a financial penalty. The law gives persons who have been injured by sexual assault the right to sue for money and makes it easier for them to convict their perpetrator.
Civil Conviction for Sexual Assault and Compensation for Damages
A person injured by sexual assault may sue their assailant in civil court to recover financial compensation whether or not the accused is found criminally responsible. Civil theories of recovery include assault, battery, false imprisonment, and infliction of emotional distress.
Unlike a criminal case where the evidence must be established ‘beyond a reasonable doubt, the proof in a civil case must only establish that it is more likely than not that the accused inflicted the injury.
The damages will be based on both the physical and emotional injuries that the accused inflicted. In sexual assault cases, emotional damage is often a large component of the injury experienced. The extent of the injury and the corresponding amount of compensation is determined from the experience of the person injured and expert medical testimony about the severity and impact of the injury.
The Allentown sexual assault lawyers at Soloff & Zervanos understand that you may not have had the power to stop what happened to you, but you have the power now to let your attacker know that they did wrong and will be held accountable for their actions. We have tremendous compassion for what you experienced and dogged determination to bring the perpetrator to justice. Call our Allentown office at 610-839-7823 to schedule a free confidential consultation with a sexual assault attorney or contact us here to learn more about how we can help.