If your family has recently been affected by sexual assault or child sexual abuse, you're not alone. Our lawyers help families like yours seek justice. Are you struggling with questions like:
- How could this sexual crime have been prevented?
- Who can be held liable for failing to report or prevent sexual abuse?
- How can a civil sexual abuse lawyer help our family?
Our victims' rights lawyers can help you seek accountability and support after surviving a sexual crime.
We help hold negligent organizations and individuals liable for allowing victims to be sexually assaulted and abused.
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Sex crimes have devastating effects on victims which can last a lifetime. These traumatic experiences can cause a variety of physical, mental, and emotional damages. It’s important for our laws to reflect the serious and destructive nature of these crimes.
Criminal Laws On Sex Assault & Child Abuse In Pennsylvania
If you or someone you love has recently become the victim of a sexual crime, you may be wondering how your state's laws might influence the prosecution of your offender. We've provided summaries of Pennsylvania's sexual assault laws in the section below, but remember that these laws often change.
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You should also be aware that the criminal justice system mainly focuses on the prosecution of sexual predators. These courts often do little to nothing for the victims of these crimes, besides offering the comfort of taking a dangerous predator off the streets. In order to hold complicit third parties liable (such as organizations who attempted to cover up the crime or failed to run hiring background checks) and secure financial support for the personal and financial difficulties your family is facing, it's often necessary to file a civil sexual abuse lawsuit.
Laws regarding sexual abuse vary from state to state. In Pennsylvania, sex crimes are classified into ten categories:
Aggravated Indecent Assault
According to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues Title 18, Chapter 31, Sections 3125: Aggravated indecent assault occurs when a person “engages in penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus of a complainant with a part of the person’s body for any purpose other than good faith medical, hygienic or law enforcement procedures.”
These charges can either be first-degree or second-degree felonies, depending on the age of the victim. First-degree charges are applied to cases with victims under 13 years old and may involve:
- A victim with a mental disability
- Crimes involving drugs or intoxicants
- Unconscious victims
- Threat of forcible compulsion
- Forcible compulsion
- No consent from victim
When these crimes involve an adult victim, a second-degree felony is the most likely charge. Statutory charges may also be levied in consensual cases if the victim is under 16 years old and there is an age difference of four or more years with the perpetrator.
First-degree felony cases are punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Second-degree felonies carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and also up to $25,000 in fines.
Sexual relations with immediate relatives are illegal in Pennsylvania, according to incest laws. According to the state, incest occurs when a person “knowingly marries or cohabits or has sexual intercourse with an ancestor or descendant, a brother or sister of the whole or half blood or an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the whole blood.”
Incest is a second-degree felony.
Indecent assault involves sexual content without consent, including contact with bodily fluids such as semen, urine, and feces. This crime can either be classified as a third-degree felony or a first or second-degree misdemeanor, depending on specific circumstances. Indecent assault charges can also be enforced as statutory charges if the victim gave consent but is under the age of 16 and the offender is at least four years older than the victim.
Institutional Sexual Assault
These cases involve institutional authority figures engaging in sexual contact with an inmate, detainee, patient, or resident. Employees in the following workplaces can be charged with institutional sexual assault:
- Prisons and correctional facilities
- Youth development centers
- Youth forestry camps
- Juvenile detention facilities
- Any licensed residential facility serving youth
- Mental health facilities
- Intellectual disability facilities
These crimes are third-degree felonies and carry a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse
IDSI charges are similar to rape, but are applied to a broader range of sexual acts. A sexual predator may be charges with IDSI for crimes involving:
- Forcible compulsion of the threat of forcible compulsion
- Unconscious victim
- Victim has been drugged
- Victim is mentally disabled
- Statutory charges for victims under age 16 and more than 4 years younger than the offender
Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is a first-degree felony.
Under Pennsylvania law, rape is a first-degree felony defined as sexual intercourse without consent. There are several situations in which a victim may be unable to give consent, including:
- Having a mental disability
- Being drugged without their knowledge
- Heavy intoxication or unconsciousness
- Threats of force
- The use of force
Sexual Abuse Of Children
In Pennsylvania, child sex abuse can be charged as either a third-degree or second-degree felony. The more serious second-degree charges are reserved for repeat offenders and those who have produced photos or videos of the abuse. These charges also can be applied in a statutory sense if the victim is younger than the age of consent (16 years old) and 4 or more years younger than the perpetrator.
Sexual assault occurs when a predator engages in sexual contact with a victim without the victim’s consent. Rape is form of sexual assault, but not every sexual assault is considered rape. Rape usually involves the use of force or a threat of the use of force. Sexual assault charges may be applied to any case of unwanted sexual contact.
Sexual Exploitation Of Children
This is a second-degree felony which involves child sex trafficking. This charge may be applied against anyone who solicits child sexual abuse for another person.
Statutory Sexual Assault
In Pennsylvania, statutory sexual assault charges involve cases of consensual sexual contact between an adult and someone under the age of 16. These can either be first or second-degree felonies, depending on circumstances.
A first-degree charge will be levied if the victim is under 16 years old and the offender is 11 or more years older. All other cases of statutory sexual assault fall under second-degree felony charges.
There are exceptions if the victim and the young person are married to each other.
Sex Offender Registries
In Pennsylvania, offenders who are convicted of sexual offenses must register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
Options For Victims
If you or a loved one has recently been victimized in a sexual crime, we understand the pain your family is going through. Although it may be difficult, we encourage you to report the crime to the police so that the offender can be held responsible in a court of law.
While criminal penalties are important for gaining closure, a guilty verdict can only do so much for victims. These crimes cause physical and mental injuries which require medical and psychiatric care. A sex abuse lawsuit can help provide the compensation victims need while they’re attempting to move on from such a traumatic event.
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If you or a loved one have survived a sexual assault, you may be wondering what your legal rights are. Our legal team is here to answer all of your questions and support you during this time.
What many survivors don't realize is that in addition to the criminal charges that they can bring against their assailant, they may also be able to file a civil lawsuit. This form of lawsuit is designed to provide the plaintiff with monetary compensation for the losses they have sustained.
We at Abuse Guardian understand that no amount of money can ever change the horror that you have lived through, however, it can help to pay for the care that is needed in the future, both physical and emotional. Even after all the physical damage has healed, many victims suffer from PTSD, depression, and anxiety and while therapy and medications may help, these treatments are not inexpensive.
To learn more about our law firm, how we can help you, and your legal options, contact us today.
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Our law firm believes that all sexual assault survivors, whether they be children or adults, deserve to be compensated for the terrible experience they have endured. While victims may feel a great sense of relief through pursuing criminal charges, in many cases they can also file a civil lawsuit.
Civil lawsuits are filed against negligent parties. To most plaintiffs surprise, a negligent party doesn't always mean the person or persons who caused them harm - although it can. In some cases, a third party's actions contributed to the circumstances which led to the attack. For example, if the victim was attacked in a parking garage and it is found that there was inadequate security in that garage, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the property owners or the managers of the garage for failing to provide a safe environment.
Our team fully reviews every case to determine who is considered negligent. Then, we pursue justice on our client's behalf and if a carefully negotiated settlement isn't an option, we present the matter before a judge and jury.
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Holding Schools, Churches, and Assailants Legally Responsible For The Harm They Have Caused
Fighting For The Best Outcome Possible In Each Case
Helping Families Get the Monetary Funds They Need To Get Their Child Care
Children come into this world trusting that the adults in their lives will take care of them and protect them. Sadly, some of the adults they come into contact with do not have their best interests at heart and hurt them in the worst ways imaginable.
Our legal team abhors all sexual assault including child abuse. We make it our mission to hold the parties whose negligence resulted in harm to a child responsible for what they have done. Through a child sex abuse lawsuit, the victim and their loved ones have the opportunity to regain compensation which will help them to pay for their medical care and emotional care.
You can be sure that we will do everything in our power to make sure you and your child get what you need. Contact us now to learn more.
Resources For Pennsylvania Sexual Abuse Victims
Pennsylvania is home to a wealth of free legal resources for sexual assault and abuse survivors. Below, you'll find a selection of these resources, along with helpful information on how each organization can help. Every organization in our list provides their services free of charge.
- Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR)
- Easily connect to a local rape crisis center for personalized, 24/7 support services
- National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA)
- Sexual assault legal helpline: 866-577-2786
- Women's Law Project
- Telephone counseling and referral service
- Domestic violence
- Workplace sexual assault and harassment
- Women Organized Against Rape
- Rape crisis center in Philadelphia
- 24-hour hotline: 215-985-3333
- Free counseling for sexual assault survivors
- Sexual Assault Court Support Group offers free counseling and advice for survivors navigating the criminal justice system
- Women In Transition
- Telephone counseling: 215-751-1111
- Free in-person counseling and advocacy
- Substance abuse and domestic violence support groups
- Self-defense training
- Joseph J. Peters Institute
- Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychiatric treatment for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and their loved ones.
- Pittsburgh Action Against Rape
- Rape crisis center offering counseling and legal advocacy
- Case management, trauma therapy and legal advocacy for sex trafficking survivors
- In-person advocates to meet you at the hospital for your rape examination
- Self-defense training
- Wellness groups, including dance, music and yoga programs
- Hotline: 1-866-END-RAPE (1-866-363-7273)
- Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
- Emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and their children
- 24-hour hotline: 412-687-8005 (ext. 1)
- Legal and medical advocacy
- Counseling and emotional support programs
- Victims Compensation Assistance Program
- financial compensation for immediate medical needs and other crime-related expenses
Latest Sexual Assault News
By Brian Kent
August 7th - 2018 - Catholic Church Releases Names Of Priests Accused Of Sexual Assault
The Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg has published a list of 71 names - all priests and other church personnel who have been accused of sexual assault. The reports go as far back as 1940, with the most recent being 2014. The report includes a summary of the complaints that were made against each person.
July 6th, 2018 - Former Principal Charged With Sexual Assault & Rape
A former principal in Georgia has been charged with multiple accounts of sexual assault, sexual battery, and rape in three different counties. Authorities believe that he assaulted three students and that there are likely other victims that they have not yet learned about. The man was also previously under investigation for attempting to access child pornography.
June 12th, 2018 - 90 Victims Seek Compensation From Buffalo Diocese For Abuse
In March, the Buffalo Diocese announced that they were creating a new fund to help compensate the victims of abuse by priests. Applications had to be submitted by June 1st, 2018 and a total of 90 were submitted. Prior to this announcement, many of the survivors believed that they were alone but are now learning that they are not. The Diocese has not announced how much money will be issued in compensation.
May 14th, 2018 - Rider Sues Lyft After Alleged Rape
A woman who has chosen to remain anonymous has filed a lawsuit against Lyft. She alleges that in 2015, her boyfriend called a driver to pick her up and take her to her hotel. Once at the hotel, he followed her up to her room where she claims that he raped her.
April 25th, 2018 - Philadelphia Jury Begins Deliberations In Cosby Retrial
On Tuesday April 24th, 10 jurors heard the closing arguments from the latest trial involving Bill Cosby. This case was already tried once, however, the previous jury was deadlocked and unable to reach a decision so the judge declared a mistrial, causing prosecutors to try Cosby again for three counts of sexual assault against Andrea Constand. On Wednesday, April 25th, the new jury began their deliberations.
March 26th 2018 - Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative Undertaken In Ohio
Around 14,000 sexual assault kits have been analyzed since a testing initiative was undertaken. The tests were completed last month and the results will be compared to criminal databases throughout the state and country. Some of the kits were taken as long as 25 years ago, and have sat untested.
February 14th, 2018 - PA Senator Asked To Resign Over Sexual Assault Allegations
Governor Tom Wolf asked Senator Daylin Leach to step down after eight women and three men alleged that the Senator engaged in inappropriate sexual contact and sexual conversations with female employees in his office. Leach has responded by apologizing for any "actions or humor people found offensive."
December 4th, 2017 - Philadelphia Teacher Arrested For Sexual Assault
A 50-year-old teacher at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts has been arrested for institutional sexual assault and endangering the welfare of children after a student reported being sexually assaulted when he was just 17-years-old. The teen provided police with evidence on his cell phone including text messages and pictures. For more information on this check out The Inquirer