Sexual abuse is something that nobody should ever have to experience. When we extend our trust to people in positions in authority or power, the last thing we expect is that they will violate us. However, we know that sexual abuse happens and you need to know where to turn if it has happened to you or a loved one.
Soloff & Zervanos, P.C. is ready to step in for you or your loved one and work to secure the compensation you deserve for your past, present, and future suffering. No amount of money will erase what happened, but it can help bring closure for your family and prevent this from happening to anyone else. When you need a New York City sexual abuse attorney, call us today.
Defining Sexual Abuse
Under the New York Penal Code, sexually-based offenses are prosecutable under Part 3, Title H, Article 130. Sexual abuse may be a misdemeanor or a felony and is covered under Articles 130.52 through 130.70. Common charges include:
- Sexual abuse in the 3rd degree, a Class B misdemeanor. Under Penal Code Section 130.55, a person may be found guilty of sexual abuse in the 3rd degree if they subject another person to sexual content without the person’s consent.
- Sexual abuse in the 2nd degree, a Class A misdemeanor. A perpetrator is guilty of sexual abuse in the 2nd degree, as defined in 130.60 of the New York Penal Code if they subject a victim to sexual contact when the victim is incapable of consent or is less than 14 years of age.
- Sexual abuse in the 1st degree, a Class D felony. Section 130.65 defines 1st degree sexual abuse as the act of subjecting another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion or when the person is physically helpless and therefore unable to consent, or is 11 years of age or younger, or is 13 years of age or younger and the perpetrator is 21 years of age or older.
- Aggravated sexual abuse in the 4th degree, a Class E felony. As outlined in 130.65, the crime of 4th degree aggravated sexual abuse occurs when the perpetrator inserts a foreign object into the victim’s vagina, rectum, anus, penis, or urethra and the person is incapable of consenting to the contact. The charge is also levied if the victim is physically injured when a perpetrator inserts a finger into the victim if the person is not capable of consenting to such activity.
- Aggravated sexual abuse in the 3rd degree, a Class D felony. Under Penal Code 130.66, aggravated sexual abuse in the 3rd degree occurs when the perpetrator uses forcible compulsion or subjects a person who is physically helpless and incapable of consent or is 11 years old or younger to the insertion of a foreign object into their vagina, rectum, anus, penis, or urethra.
- Aggravated sexual abuse in the 2nd degree, a Class C felony. Under Penal Code 130.67, aggravated sexual abuse in the 2nd degree occurs when the perpetrator injures the victim physically while using forcible compulsion or subjects a person who is physically helpless and incapable of consent or is 11 years old or younger to the insertion of a foreign object into their vagina, rectum, anus, penis, or urethra.
- Aggravated sexual abuse in the 1st degree, a Class B felony. Outlined under Penal Code 130.70, aggravated sexual abuse in the 1st degree occurs when the perpetrator uses forcible compulsion or subjects a person who is physically helpless and incapable of consent or is 11 years old or younger to the insertion of a foreign object into their vagina, rectum, anus, penis, or urethra.
- Persistent sexual abuse, a Class E felony. As defined in New York Penal Code 130.53, a person may be adjudged guilty of felony persistent sexual abuse if they commit the crime of forcible touching or second- or third-degree sexual abuse or other felony sex crimes twice or more within the previous 10 years, with the exclusion of time spent in prison.
Sexual Assault vs. Sexual Abuse: Is There a Difference?
You may be confused as to what the difference is between sexual assault and sexual abuse. There is not much difference, but we generally use the term sexual abuse to describe what happens when a person in a position of power or authority over a person sexually assaults them in any way.
These cases happen in many ways. A few of them are children who have been abused by a(n):
- Religious leader
- Foster parent
- Family member
- Older child
- Mentor/scout leader
These cases also include adults who have been abused, such as:
- A doctor abusing a patient
- Elder abuse in nursing homes/assisted living facility
- Elder abused by an in-home care aide
Sexual abuse takes many forms and can include:
- Any sexual contact between the abuser and victim
- A victim being forced to watch pornography or sex acts
- Victims being exposed to sexual touching
- Sexual contact online or on the phone
We know that around one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. This includes:
- One in seven girls
- One in 25 boys
- About 90% of children who are abused know their abuser
- About 30% of children who are abused are abused by family members
The effects of sexual abuse, whether it happens to a child or adult, are usually lifelong. If you were abused as a child, it is not too late to seek justice. We know that stepping up now can be difficult, but shining a light on the abuse may help others in similar situations.
FAQs for New York City Sexual Abuse Lawyer
There are no words to describe the psychological, emotional, and physical harm that sexual abuse victims must deal with following the crime. Some choose not to tell anyone about this dark chapter in their life and live with it for the rest of their life.
While no sexual abuse lawyer or prosecutor will be able to undo what you had to endure, you can pursue justice. Yes, doing so is not easy. But with a New York City sexual abuse lawyer by your side, you can obtain some measure of closure to get a chance to move on and start a new chapter in your life.
Civil vs. Criminal Sexual Abuse Cases: What’s the Difference?
Many sexual abuse victims do not know the difference between civil and criminal sexual abuse cases. In New York City, victims of sexual abuse and assault have the right to get justice through both a civil and criminal court.
In a criminal case, you can hold the perpetrator criminally liable for what he or she did to you. If your criminal case is successful, the abuser might go to prison and face other penalties.
Contrary to popular belief, a civil sexual abuse case is not just about obtaining monetary compensation for your economic and non-economic losses, which, by the way, can be tremendous.
Since civil claims are handled separately from criminal cases, filing a civil suit is often the only way for a victim of sexual abuse to hold the abuser accountable for committing the crime. In New York, a sexual abuse and assault survivor can get justice in a civil court even if the abuser has not been charged with a crime in a criminal case.
What Types of Sexual Assault Are Recognized by New York Law?
Rape, which New York law defines as forcing another individual to engage in sexual intercourse against their will, is the most common type of sexual assault. However, the state of New York also recognizes other types of sexual assault:
- Forced sexual acts involving penetration (vaginal, oral, and anal);
- Unwanted touching or physical contact (groping, slapping, grabbing, etc.);
- Sexual exploitation;
- Female genital mutilation; and
- Facilitating a sexual act with a controlled substance.
Should You Report Sexual Abuse?
A victim of sexual abuse can feel humiliated, dehumanized, and ashamed of what happened even though none of it was their fault. Many victims may also feel scared to report sexual abuse because they fear retaliation.
Failure to come forward and speak up is wrong for two reasons. First of all, you are unable to obtain at least some degree of closure, and, second of all, you cannot get the justice that you so desperately need.
In fact, failing to speak up increases the likelihood that your abuser will continue abusing and victimizing other people in the future.
Reporting the act of sexual abuse sooner rather than later can also help you preserve the evidence that is necessary to prove the crime. The sooner you take action, the greater the likelihood of seeing your civil and criminal case succeed.
What New York’s Child Victims Act is All About?
You might have heard about the Child Victims Act, which took effect on August 14, 2019. The Act will remain effective until August 14, 2020, and offers a unique chance for many sexual abuse survivors to seek justice.
Many people contact Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., and ask our New York City sexual abuse lawyer to spell out what the Child Victims Act is all about and how it can impact their sexual abuse case. In a nutshell, the Act:
- Temporarily eliminates the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases;
- Allows victims of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits against their abusers and institutions until the age of 55 (the previous limit stood at 23 years of age);
- Offers a one-year window during which sexual abuse victims of all ages can take legal action against the abusers regardless of when the crime occurred;
- Allows sexual abuse and assault survivors to bring a new lawsuit even if their lawsuit was previously dismissed due to New York’s statute of limitations or for failing to file a notice of claim or notice of intention to sue;
- Allows sexual abuse victims to file a lawsuit against the organization where the crime occurred without having to bring any notices; and
- Enables persons who were sexually abused as children to file felony criminal charges against the abuser until they turn 28.
Do not waste your chance to get the justice you so desperately need to bring your life back on track. The Child Victims Act is a unique opportunity to find closure.
We Are Here For You
You may not know where to start if you or a loved one have been sexually abused. Soloff & Zervanos, P.C. is ready to help, regardless of whether the abuse recently happened or if you were sexually abused years ago. We want you to get justice for what happened to you.
We will work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. This can include:
- Pain and suffering damages
- Compensation for counseling
- Punitive damages against the perpetrator(s)
- The person who abused you
- Institutions they worked for
- Institutions that covered up the abuse