Are you unsure of how to respond after you or a loved one has become the victim of sexual assault or child sexual abuse? You may be struggling with concerns like:
- What legal options does our family have?
- How can enablers of sexual abuse be held accountable?
- What are the benefits of filing a lawsuit?
Our Illinois sexual assault victims' lawyers can help you stand up for your legal rights.
Civil sexual abuse lawsuits help survivors in ways that the criminal justice system can't.
Meet Illinois Sex Abuse Lawyer: Brian Kent, Esq.
Mr. Kent is a partner at Laffey Bucci & Kent, LLP. As a former sex crimes prosecutor, Mr. Kent has worked with survivors of sexual abuse for his entire career. He now leads a team of former sex crimes prosecutors who only represent survivors of sex abuse, sexual assault and sex trafficking in civil cases. Mr. Kent is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.
- Meet Our Experienced Attorneys
- Filing A Civil Lawsuit In Illinois
- First-Party Offender Lawsuits
- Third-Party Negligence Lawsuits
- Criminal Laws In Illinois
- Civil Statute Of Limitations
- Illinois Resources For Survivors
Were you or a loved one sexually assaulted or sexually abused in Illinois? Our committed attorneys are here to help. It may feel as though you are alone, but you are not. We believe that you deserve justice. Thanks to Illinois' powerful tradition of civil common law, you may be eligible to pursue accountability and financial compensation by filing a private civil lawsuit.
How Pursuing Civil Justice Can Help
We believe you, and we believe that your story deserves to be told. You were wronged in the most egregious way possible. You were violated, perhaps by someone you trusted. You did nothing wrong. This was not your fault. You did not deserve to be mistreated; no one does.
Our experienced IL sex abuse attorneys understand the powerful and painful range of emotions that sexual abuse and sexual assault can cause. Anger, shame, rage, embarassment, depression - these are natural reactions to a terrible trauma. You are not a victim; you are a survivor, but all too often, survivors live quiet lives of desperation, struggling to come to terms with what happened.
Recovery is possible. What happened to you does not need to define your life. We can help. Whether or not the direct offender was held accountable in the criminal justice system, you can pursue justice on your own terms. For many survivors, filing a civil lawsuit is the first step on the path to true recovery. It's a way to take control over a situation spinning out of control.
As we all know, the criminal justice system plays an essential role in bringing the direct perpetrators of sexual misconduct to justice. Criminal prosecutors pursue offenders and prosecute them, while courts impose severe penalties. But there is an alternative justice system - the civil justice system, in which survivors and their loved ones are allowed to pursue accountability and financial compensation on their own terms.
Meet Our Experienced Attorneys
AbuseGuardian.com is sponsored by a national network of compassionate sexual assault and sexual abuse attorneys. No matter your legal matter, our lawyers have the experience, skill and resources to pursue your case. You can trust in our experience, as well as our outstanding record of success in sexual misconduct cases. Our attorneys have stood up to some of America's biggest organizations, including the Catholic Church and national massage spa chains. We are here to help. That's our promise to you.
To pursue cases in Illinois, our network has partnered with the compassionate legal professionals at Laffey, Bucci & Kent. Over 90 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Laffey, Bucci & Kent have stood with assault and abuse survivors, pursuing justice on their behalf in civil courts across the country.
Illinois empowers survivors to pursue justice. If you were assaulted or abused, you may have the right to pursue financial compensation and accountability by filing a private civil lawsuit against the responsible parties. The sexual assault and sexual abuse practice team at Laffey, Bucci & Kent is led by firm Partner Brian Kent, Esq. Brian began his career as a criminal prosecutor in the Sex Crimes Unit of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, where he gained unmatched insights into the criminal justice system, as well as the plight of sexual abuse and assault survivors. Since moving to private practice, Brian's passion for assisting survivors has only grown. He brings his vast knowledge of sex crimes to each case, providing survivors with unmatched representation.
The dedicated legal team at AbuseGuardian.com has already helped countless survivors step forward and pursue justice after suffering a severe trauma. You could be next. You have a powerful voice, and a story of strength and hope to inspire the world. We can help you tell it.
We Believe You
You are not alone. At AbuseGuardian.com, our dedicated legal team believes that you have an important story to tell, whether you decide to remain anonymous or make your name public. You are stronger than what happened to you, and you can make the responsible parties pay.
While closure may seem far away, recovery is possible. We've seen it happen in numerous cases. Many survivors are helped on a profound level by pursuing justice on their own terms. Needless to say, true recovery takes time, often years of therapy and difficult work. But we believe that you deserve justice, too. It's all possible in the civil justice system.
Making Up For The Criminal Justice System's Deficiencies
In many ways, the civil justice system offers you, as a plaintiff, a far wider range of options than can be found in the criminal justice system. Alongside the crime's direct perpetrator, you may also be eligible to file suit against any organizations, individuals or institutions that enabled the abuse or assault through their own negligence.
If you were abused by a priest, you may also be able to file suit against the Catholic diocese in which you were abused, or even the Catholic Church itself. If you were assaulted by a massage therapist, you may be able to pursue compensation from the massage spa as well. If your child was abused by a teacher, you may be eligible to demand accountability from the school and school district where your child was mistreated.
In most cases, the criminal justice system will never come close to touching these additional third-party defendants. The church, massage spa and school will never face criminal charges for their part in the sexual misconduct. Only the direct perpetrators of abuse will be prosecuted. But the civil justice system allows you to tell a far more nuanced story, one about the institutions and organizations that facilitate misconduct through failures, errors, mistakes, wrongdoing and negligence.
Due to its single-minded focus on punishing criminal offenders, the criminal justice system can often appear uncaring and unsupportive to survivors. We've spoken to many survivors who felt used by the criminal prosecution, treated as nothing more than glorified pieces of evidence.
There is another option, an additional justice system in which survivors and their families can find the support and financial compensation they deserve and so desperately need - the civil justice system. In the criminal justice system, offenders are held accountable to society at large, not to individual survivors. But the civil justice system flips this equation on its head. In the civil justice system, survivors take control of their legal futures. In filing a civil lawsuit, you pursue justice on your own terms. Civil lawsuits hold responsible parties accountable to individual survivors, not to society at large. Unlike the criminal justice system, civil litigation puts survivors at the heart of the legal process.
Suing The Direct Perpetrator Of Crime
Illinois' powerful criminal code seeks to hold offenders and direct perpetrators accountable for their misconduct. But the criminal justice system is not the sole avenue for justice. Beyond the statutes of criminal law, there is a separate set of rules and codes that govern civil law. Under the strong tenets of Illinois common law, survivors who have suffered due to sexual abuse or sexual assault are empowered to pursue financial compensation from both the direct perpetrators of misconduct and negligent third-party defendants.
Illinois law allows sexual abuse and sexual assault survivors to file lawsuits against direct perpetrators and negligent third-party defendants. These claims are closely related, often arising over the same misconduct, but rely on different sets of legal theories in Illinois' civil courts. Delaware's body of common civil law outlines a variety of "causes of actions" - legitimate reasons to sue someone else. The relevant causes of action will vary depending on who you are suing and what you claim happened.
In Illinois, civil lawsuits filed against the direct perpetrators of sexual misconduct generally rely on three separate but inter-related legal theories:
- Assault - To the average person, assault entails a violent attack, but the term actually has a very specific definition in Illinois civil law. In civil cases, the tort (civil wrong) of assault refers not to an act of violence, but to a threat of physical violence. Assault, then, includes any gesture, act or statement that puts a victim in fear of imminent physical harm - a raised fist, or a verbal threat.
- Battery - Battery refers to the actual infliction of physical harm. Whereas assault entails the threat of imminent harm, something that would make a reasonable person fear violence, battery is the violence itself. In technical terms, battery refers to the intentional touching of someone else in an offensive or harmful manner without the other person's consent. For obvious reasons, the vast majority of sexual assault and sexual abuse cases include the claim of battery, although most use assault and battery together.
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress - The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is fairly self-explanatory. This civil wrong holds when the defendants behaves in an outrageous or extreme manner to intentionally inflict emotional distress on another person.
In most cases, you'll see these three causes of action (assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress) referred to as intentional torts. Unlike the tort of negligence, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress require a minimal finding of intent. They are not mistakes, or errors, but intentional acts taken by the defendant.
Suing A Negligent Third-Party Defendant
In the same way that survivors are empowered to file civil lawsuits against direct perpetrators, some survivors may also be able to pursue a third-party negligence lawsuit against additional defendants. These claims are filed against organizations, institutions, businesses or individuals who facilitated the abuse by committing negligence.
In simple terms, negligence is a careless or reckless disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others. While direct offenders actually carry out criminal misconduct, many instances of sexual abuse and sexual assault are enabled because someone else - a manager or deacon, nurse or volunteer - looked the other way, rather than speaking up. Other crimes are facilitated because an organization attempted to conceal sexual abuse allegations from the proper authorities. Some crimes occur because a business or employer failed to provide proper surveillance. These would be examples of negligence. In a civil lawsuit, third-party defendants can be held accountable for their negligence.
What Is Negligence?
The legal doctrine of negligence serves as the basis for the majority of sexual assault and sexual abuse lawsuits, at least when these cases are pursuing compensation from a third-party defendant.
For the theory of negligence to hold, there must be a prior "duty of care" between the plaintiff and the defendant. Negligence implies a duty, an obligation or responsibility, because at its core, negligence is the failure to uphold a pre-existing obligation to act with sufficient care.
In simpler terms, negligence acknowledges that some people owe other people a duty to act with reasonable care. Doctors, as just one example, owe their patients an obligation to follow well-recognized standards of medical practice, as well as a duty to perform their work with sufficient professionalism. Schools, colleges and universities owe their students an obligation to provide adequate security against crime, as do hotels and motels in relation to their guests, visitors and residents.
In reality, most businesses and organizations have a minimal duty to prevent sexual abuse and sexual assault insofar as they can. This obligation holds for employers in the workplace, as it does for residential apartment buildings. It holds for churches and other places of worship, along with summer camps and daycare centers. Also covered by this duty are psychiatric facilities, medical offices and hospitals. Resorts, sports clubs, gyms - all of these organizations have a basic duty to do everything in their power to prevent sexual abuse and sexual assault from occurring.
But when one of these organizations or institutions fails to uphold its obligation, allowing a mistake, error or failure to lead to sexual abuse or sexual assault, they have acted negligently. When negligence leads to sexual misconduct of any type, survivors are allowed to pursue a civil lawsuit for financial compensation against the negligent organization. Are you wondering how Illinois criminal sexual assault statutes might handle the prosecution of the person who assaulted you or a loved one? Some survivors of these crimes find comfort in seeing the person responsible put behind bars.
Sexual Assault & Abuse Laws In Illinois
We've summarized the Illinois sexual assault laws below as a reference point for victims who are wondering how long their assaulter will be in prison. But you should be aware that these laws regularly change. In order to get an up-to-date idea of how the criminal prosecution may play out, we advise speaking with an experienced Illinois sexual assault victims' lawyer.
Survivors should also be aware that criminal courts only handle one aspect of recovery. They focus on punishing sexual predators, rather than considering the needs of victims. From Chicago and Rockford to Springfield and Marion, civil sexual assault lawsuits can provide financial support, along with demanding accountability from any third parties who enabled the crime either through a failure to prevent it, report it properly, or provide adequate response systems for victims.
Our Illinois sexual assault victims' lawyers guide survivors through the civil court system. Founding partner Brian Kent has a background as a prosecutor, so he understands the limitations of the criminal justice system. If you want to gain a better understanding of how both criminal and civil courts can help your family find justice, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.
Illinois Sex Crime Laws
Illinois has 15 separate laws addressing sex crimes. Any sexual activity in which at least one party either refuses or is unable to give consent qualifies as a sex crime. In Illinois, the age of consent is 17 years old.
If you or someone you love has been sexually assaulted or abused, our experienced Illinois sexual assault lawyers can help you learn more about your rights in a free consultation.
Sexual assault laws apply to cases involving sexual penetration or rape. Illinois has two classifications for sexual assaults involving two or more adults:
Criminal sexual assault charges are applied in cases of rape involving one or more of the following:
- Use of force or the threat of force
- Victims who are unable to understand the sexual nature of the contact or unable to give knowing consent
- The offender is a family member and the victim is under 18 years old
- The offender is at least 17 years old, is in a position of authority, trust, or supervision of the victim, and the victim is at least 13 years old but younger than 18.
For first convictions, this crime is a class 1 felony punishable by 4-15 years in prison. Subsequent convictions are classified as class X felonies, punishable by either 6-30, 30-60, or natural life mandatory incarceration – depending on circumstances.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault
Aggravated criminal sexual assault charges apply to cases involving criminal sexual assault plus one or more of the following circumstances:
- Use of a dangerous weapon during the crime
- Bodily harm to victim
- Threatening the life of the victim or someone else
- Commission of another felony during the crime
- Victim is over 60 years old
- Physically handicapped victim
- Offender administered a controlled substance to the victim
- Offender was armed with or discharged a firearm
Additionally, criminal sexual assault occurs when there is sexual penetration plus one of the following three circumstances:
- Victim is under 8 years old and offender is under 17 years old
- Victim is aged 9-12 and force or threat of force was used
- Victim has severe intellectual disabilities
Aggravated sexual assault is a class X felony. First convictions carry a mandatory sentence of 6-60 years with possible extensions of 15, 20, 50, 50-60 years or natural life. Subsequent convictions carry a mandatory natural life sentence.
Sexual abuse charges are applied in cases involving criminal sexual conduct, but no sexual penetration. Like sexual assault, these charges can either be classified as criminal sexual abuse or aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Criminal Sexual Abuse
Illegal sexual conduct involving one or more of the following circumstances:
- Force or the threat of force
- Victims who are unable to understand what’s going on or unable to give consent
- Victim is 9 through 16 years old and the offender is under 17 years old
- Victim is between ages 13 and 16 and the offender is less than 5 years older
These crimes can either be Class A misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances of the crime. If the offender is under age 17, then the charge will be a misdemeanor (less than one year in prison). Cases involving the use of or threat of force or a victim who couldn’t knowingly give consent are classified as Class 4 felonies (1-3 years in prison). If the offender is convicted more than once, they will be charged with a Class 2 felony (3-7 years in prison).
Aggravated Sexual Abuse
Similar to sexual assault, aggravated sexual abuse is a more serious charge involving criminal sexual abuse plus one or more of the following factors:
- Dangerous weapon
- Bodily harm
- Victim over 60 years old
- Physically handicapped victim
- Threats against victim or others
- Committing another felony
- Offender delivered controlled substance to victim
Additionally, there are circumstances regarding age:
- Victim is 17 years old or under and offender is a family member
- Victim is 12 years old or under and offender is at least 17 years old
- Victim is ages 13-16, offender is 17 or older, and force or threat of force was used
- Victim is 8 years old or under and the accused is under 17 years old
- Victim is ages 9-16, offender is under 17 years old and force or threat of force was used
- Victim has severe intellectual disabilities
- Victim is ages 13-17, accused is over 17 years old and holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision over the victim
- Sexual penetration between a victim ages 13-17 and an offender who is at least 5 years older
Aggravated sexual abuse is a Class 2 Felony, punishable by 3-7 years in prison.
Child Sex Abuse Laws
Illinois has 7 laws which apply to cases of child abuse:
- Indecent Solicitation Of A Child – When someone over age 17 knowingly seeks sexual contact from a child or uses the internet to solicit a sex act from a child or someone who they believe is a child. A Felony which ranges from Class 1 to Class 4, depending on circumstances.
- Indecent Solicitation Of An Adult – One adult party arranges for another adult to engage in sexual activity with a child. Charges range from Class A misdemeanors to Class X felonies.
- Solicitation To Meet A Child – An adult uses a computer, cell phone, or another electronic device to arrange a meeting with a child or someone whom they believe to be a child for an unlawful purpose and without the knowledge of the child’s parents. A Class A misdemeanor or a Class 4 felony if the offender believes he or she is at least 5 years older than the victim.
- Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault Of A Child – Criminal sexual assault when the victim is younger than 13. A Class X felony punishable by 30-60 years in prison.
- Grooming – When an adult uses electronic means to encourage a child (or someone he or she believes to be a child) or their guardian to engage in illegal sexual conduct. A Class 4 felony punishable by 1-3 years in prison.
- Permitting Sexual Abuse Of A Child – When a parent, guardian, or other party is responsible for a child’s wellbeing and allows sexual abuse to occur even though they’re aware of it. A Class 1 felony punishable by 4-16 years in prison.
- Sexual Exploitation Of A Child – Occurs when an adult engages in sexual acts or exposes sexual organs in the presence or virtual presence (such as via webcam) of a child for the purpose of sexual gratification. A Class A misdemeanor for first offenses, or a Class 4 felony if the offender has previously been convicted of a sex crime OR the victim was under 13 years old OR the crime was committed within 500 feet of a school.
Other Related Laws
Other sexual behaviors outlawed in Illinois include:
- Custodial sexual misconduct – It is a Class 3 felony for a probation officer, surveillance agent, or another employee of the penal system to engage in sexual activity with someone they’re supervising.
- Criminal transmission of HIV – It’s a Class 2 felony for someone who knows that they are HIV positive to knowingly transmit the disease through unprotected sex, transfers or donations of bodily fluids, or the transfer of infected paraphernalia such as needles.
- Sexual misconduct with a person with a disability – It is illegal for someone employed by the Department of Human Services to engage in sexual activity with a disabled person under the care of the same Department.
- Sexual relations within families – Sexual activity between relatives is classified as a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2-5 years in prison.
Civil Statute Of Limitations
Illinois' powerful tradition of common law allows sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors to pursue civil lawsuits against the parties responsible for the misconduct. However, the time in which to file suit may be limited. In Illinois, a law known as the "statute of limitations" acts as a legal time limit, restricting the amount of time survivors have to file suit.
Complying with the statute of limitations is absolutely critical. If you attempt to file suit after the statute of limitations has run out, your case will be dismissed without a second thought. As a result, it's crucial to contact an experienced Delaware attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected.
Compared to other states, Illinois has very liberal statutes of limitations for sex crimes. To begin with, there is no statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. If you were abused as a child, you are allowed to commence your civil action at any time, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. For adult survivors of sexual assault, the statute of limitations is a relatively short two years, beginning on the date of the assault. Note, however, that no statute of limitations exists in relation to Class X felonies - aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault - or Class 1 felonies - criminal sexual assault. These civil actions can be filed at any time.