In 2005, famous comedian Bill Cosby testified in a civil lawsuit brought against him by a former employee of Temple University. The civil lawsuit arose out of claims that Cosby tricked the plaintiff into taking drugs and then subsequently sexually assaulted her.
In Cosby’s testimony, he admitted that he had obtained seven prescriptions for Quaaludes in the 1970s and that he had thought about using the drugs on women who he wanted to engage in sexual behavior. While he did not admit to giving the plaintiff Quaaludes in this particular instance of alleged sexual assault, he did acknowledge giving her over-the-counter Benadryl, which can have the affect of making someone drowsy.
The plaintiff and Cosby settled the civil lawsuit in 2006, with Cosby paying an undisclosed sum to the plaintiff. The court records remained sealed until they were recently unsealed and reported on by Reuters and other news outlets. The unsealing of the records comes amidst more than 40 allegations made in the past year that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted women. The criminal statute of limitations has been exceeded on most of the allegations, so Cosby is unlikely to face many criminal charges (if any).
Criminal charges are not the only response to sexual abuse. Increasingly, many victims are turning to the civil justice system and filing civil lawsuits for sexual abuse in order to seek monetary compensation for the losses caused by sexual abuse.
Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse in Long Beach
Criminal charges are brought by prosecutors and the prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. Civil lawsuits for sexual abuse, on the other hand, are brought by the victim. The lawsuit may be filed against the actual abuser (like Bill Cosby in the civil case reported on by Reuters). In some cases, lawsuits are also filed against organizations that hired people to work with kids without doing background checks or against organizations that facilitated abuse by looking the other way.
The purpose of these civil suits is both to hold defendants financially accountable and to make sure the victims get compensation for their suffering. There is a lower burden of proof in civil, rather than criminal, cases. If a victim can show by a preponderance of the evidence that the abuse occurred, the jury should award damages. Many victims of sexual abuse suffer very real financial and emotional losses. For example, physiological counseling may be necessary and is not always covered by insurance.
Civil lawsuits for sexual abuse can be brought on the basis of both accusations of abuse against adults (like in the Cosby case) or on the basis of sexual abuse against children. California Civil Code Section 340.1 establishes a longer statute of limitations for civil lawsuits for child sexual abuse to make it easier for victims to recover funds if they do not realize until they are older how badly harmed they were by abuse during their childhood. Civil lawsuits for sexual abuse of a child must be filed within eight years of the time the child turns 18 or within three years of the date the plaintiff reasonably could have discovered the psychological illness or injury caused by the abuse.
An Experienced Sexual Assault Attorney Can Assist with Your Claim
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