Oregon Sexual Abuse Information
Oregon Sex Abuse
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Why do people file a civil suit for sexual abuse? What’s the difference between a civil case and a criminal case?
In a criminal case for sexual abuse, the alleged abuser is prosecuted by the district attorney's office for committing sexual abuse against a victim. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you should contact the police or district attorney’s office. Law enforcement officials will take your testimony, gather evidence and decide if it is sufficient to bring criminal charges.
In a civil case for sexual abuse, the victim sues the person who committed the sexual abuse to recover damages for his or her injuries, which may include medical bills, lost income, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, etc. If you have been sexually abused, a civil suit may be an appropriate means of attaining justice and accountability. Your case will be in civil court, and may be brought in addition to a criminal case. Sometimes it may be possible to bring a civil case against an abuser, even if the state has determined that there is insufficient evidence to bring a criminal case or the criminal case was not successful. Therefore, you will need an experienced Oregon personal injury lawyer to help you.
What is meant by the term "sexual abuse? "
In the case of adults, sexual abuse is any nonconsensual sexual contact,
touching, intercourse, sexual penetration, sodomy, rape, including date rape.
Child sexual abuse is defined more broadly. It occurs when a person intentionally uses or attempts to use a child for their own sexual gratification. This can include incest, rape, sodomy, sexual penetration, fondling, voyeurism and sexual harassment. It also includes intentional conduct that produces any physical injury to a child, or any mental injury which results in impairment of the child's mental or psychological ability to function caused by cruelty to the child.
What about the emotional effects of child sexual abuse?
Persons who sexually abuse children rely on many methods to keep children from reporting the conduct. They may be subtly coercive, such as promising favors or gifts. Or they may be more blatant, such as a adult warning a child that if she tells anyone, the family will be broken up and everyone will blame the child; or a clergyman using his position of religious or moral authority to coerce the child. Many abusers use threats, telling the child pets will be hurt, that siblings will be targeted, or even the child himself will be killed if he/she tells. Abusers deliberately emphasize the child’s dependency on the adult for basic necessities like food, shelter, care, etc., to make the child submit to them.
All of these instances can be part of a claim for child sexual abuse, which can have long-lasting and severe effects on the physical and mental well-being of a person. It is also common for adults in a position of authority such as teachers, coaches, clergy members, daycare workers, babysitters, scout and club leaders, among others, to exploit their power to gain the child victim’s complicity or silence.
What if there has been no physical contact, but the child has been otherwise abused or exploited?
Sexual exploitation of a child is any other conduct which uses children in a
sexually explicit way. This
includes encouraging or using children to engage in the performance of sexually
explicit conduct or contact for others to observe or the photographing, filming,
tape recording or other exhibition which depicts sexual conduct or contact with
a child. This also includes using
children in prostitution, using children to create pornography, and online
sexual corruption of a child.
What if the abuser claims that the relationship was consensual because it was with a teenager?
Consenting sexual relationships imply that both partners have the ability and capacity to make an informed choice without fear of harm or pressure. Oregon law does not make all sexual activity of a teen under the age of 18 illegal. The law includes defenses in some circumstances if the actor is less than three years older than the victim. Each situation is analyzed on a case-by-case basis.
However, many teens do not have a clear understanding of the difference between consensual and abusive relationships, particularly when the older party is in a position of authority as a teacher, coach, clergyman, scout leader, club leader, etc. The following factors should be considered in determining whether a relationship may constitute child sexual abuse:
What if the victim was an adult, but I don’t think she could truly consent because she is disabled or otherwise vulnerable?
Your attorney can help you determine if an elderly or disabled adult lacked capacity from a legal standpoint to consent to sexual contact or a sexual relationship. In general, a person is considered incapable of consenting to a sexual act if the person is: (a) under 18 years of age; (b) mentally defective; (c) mentally incapacitated; or (d) physically helpless.
I suspect that my child has been sexually abused by
a teacher/clergy member/coach.
What signs should I look for?
A child may show the following signs when he or she has been sexually abused by an adult in a position of authority:
Warning signs from the adult’s behavior may include:
Are there other types of claims related to sexual abuse that might form part of a sexual abuse claim?
Yes, often a claim for sexual abuse will involve one of these related civil claims:
Are there other instances where an adult may file a claim for sexual abuse?
Yes; here are some common examples.
What if the abuse happened a long time ago? Do I still have a case?
For a competent adult victim of sexual abuse, the statute of limitations in Oregon is two (2) years from the time of the abuse/injury to file a civil claim.
However, if the sexual abuse happened to a child, the statute of limitations is “tolled” and does not begin to run until the child has reached the age of majority (18 years old) and then extended for another six (6) years; OR the statute of limitations is three (3) years from the time of the discovery of the injury that was caused by the sexual abuse or discovery of the causal connection between an injury and the sexual abuse, whichever is period is longer.
For example, if a child was sexually abused when he was 8 years old, the statute of limitations would be tolled until he turned 18 years old. From that point, he would have another 6 years in which to file his claim, or until the time he reached 24 years old. If the child did not remember or suffer the effects of the abuse until later in life, he would have a three year period in which to file his claim from the discovery or onset of the injury or problems caused by the abuse. The same rule may be applied to adults who lack capacity due to an injury and then later regain mental capacity.
Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Websites, including this one, provide general Oregon sex abuse information but do not provide legal advice or create an attorney / client relationship. General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your case, problem, or situation. Consult qualified Oregon sexual abuse attorneys for advice about any specific potential claim that you have. Oregon lawyers are governed by the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct. This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules. Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way. No lawyer associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way.
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