Sexual abuse is highly traumatizing for victims. It can include several types of conduct, including unwanted touching, sexual advances, and much more. Sexual abuse in Louisiana is also a crime, and may fall into one of several sex offenses as defined by state law. As a victim, you have likely suffered physical, financial, and emotional trauma at the hands of the perpetrator.
If you suffered sexual abuse in Louisiana, you could be owed financial compensation for everything you have been through. Here, you can learn more about what is considered sexual abuse and what you can do about it.
Definition of Sexual Abuse
The term “sexual abuse” can have several meanings in Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) sets forth a helpful definition for sexual abuse. It can include:
- Force or coercion to engage in sexual activities because of fear or retaliation
- Suffering unwanted exposure to sexual language, material, or contact
- Sexual activity despite a lack of or inability to consent
Sexual abuse typically involves circumstances or conduct that is sexual in nature, but that lacks the other party’s consent. Lack of consent is one of the primary indicators of sexual abuse. If the victim did not consent to the activity or withdrew consent at any time, the other party committed an act of sexual abuse.
Sexual Abuse Under Louisiana Criminal Law
Louisiana state law also helps define different forms of sexual abuse. There is no particular crime called sexual abuse, but there are several sex offenses that fall into this category. These include:
Rape is defined as any form of sexual intercourse without the consent of the other party. Intercourse may include acts such as anal, vaginal, or oral sexual acts without consent. Rape is one of the most severe sexual abuse offenses under state law. First-degree rape occurs when one of several circumstances is met, most commonly that the act occurred with force. It may also occur if the perpetrator threatened harm, used a weapon, or committed the act against persons of a certain age.
Second-degree rape occurs when the victim is unable to consent due to decreased mental capacity because of ingesting intoxicants or drugs without their knowledge.
Sexual battery occurs when a person commits a nonconsensual touching of some erogenous regions on a victim. This can occur over or underneath the clothing, and by using a person’s body or some instrument to commit the offense.
Under Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:43.1.1, a person commits misdemeanor sexual battery by touching the breasts or buttocks of a victim without consent. Under Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:43.2, a person commits second-degree sexual battery if they touch the anus or genitals of another person without their consent.
Other Sex Offenses
Many other sex offenses under Louisiana criminal law may constitute sexual abuse as well. These include, but are not limited to:
- Aggravated incest
- Felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile
- Child pornography
- Statutory rape
Civil Versus Criminal Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
An act of sexual abuse is a terrible thing, and there are two primary ways to hold the offender accountable. The first is with a criminal case. This occurs when you report the crime to law enforcement or your local prosecutor. The prosecutor’s office handles the criminal case and files the charges. The prosecutor must prove the offender’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If successful, the perpetrator may face high fines, prison sentences, and even sex offender registration requirements.
A civil claim is filed by the victim, with help from an experienced personal injury lawyer. This claim is designed to compensate you for the trauma you have suffered as well as your other damages. Civil and criminal cases are separate and handled by different parties.
Filing a Civil Sexual Abuse Claim in Louisiana
Victims of sexual abuse have the right to seek compensation from their attackers. A civil lawsuit or personal injury claim can help you seek the compensation you need and deserve. It starts by filing a complaint in the appropriate court, which begins the lawsuit. The defendant then has a chance to file an answer. Your attorney will then investigate the case in a process called discovery. In this process, the parties exchange documents, conduct interviews, and learn more about the case.
Cases may resolve in various ways, but two are the most common. The first is by settlement. A settlement is a legal agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant in the sexual abuse lawsuit that resolves the case. The parties agree to an amount of compensation and other acceptable terms. Settlement can help you get the compensation you deserve without the stress of going to trial.
Some defendants refuse to settle, even when they know they are wrong. In this case, you have the right to take your case to trial. A trial requires proof that the offender committed the sexual abuse against you. Your attorney can present evidence to prove your case and seek compensation for you.
Compensation in Louisiana Sexual Abuse Claims
A successful sexual abuse lawsuit may help you win compensation for all that you have been through. You may win compensation through a settlement or the trial process. As a victim of sexual abuse, you could be entitled to monetary damages such as:
- Past and future medical costs
- Costs of rehabilitation services
- Surgical costs
- Psychological services and therapy costs
- Lost income or lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Emotional trauma
You may also be entitled to punitive damages. These special damages are specifically designed to punish the defendant for their egregious and wrongful actions. Punitive damages may constitute a significant portion of your damages award, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Fight for the Compensation You Deserve in a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
The trauma of sexual abuse can be devastating to your life and the lives of your loved ones. The emotional and physical trauma alone can alter your life in unforeseen ways, all because of the immoral acts of another. You have the right to pursue compensation for your injuries and your suffering.