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Sexual Abuse Lawyer Toronto

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Sexual abuse is a traumatic experience that leaves lasting scars. That’s why most survivors of these horrific attacks feel shame and fear after undergoing such extreme trauma. It is possible to feel like you are alone, but you aren’t. The compassionate and experienced sexual assault lawyers at Joshua Goldberg Law can help you file a lawsuit to hold your assailant(s) accountable. We will provide caring counsel and legal representation while relentlessly fighting for your rights in the courtroom.

Through our professional legal services, we have gained an unmatched reputation as one of the most reliable sexual assault law firms in Ontario. Our lawyers have advocated for sexual assault victims against powerful individuals and institutions. We have won multi-million dollar verdicts against such defendants for covering up or perpetrating sexual abuse.

Therefore, if you are a victim of sexual assault or abuse, schedule a free consultation. Our knowledgeable lawyers will listen to you, understand your ordeal, and help you seek the justice and compensation you legally deserve.

Understanding Sexual Abuse

Sexual violence is one of the worst crimes that happen. Civil and criminal sexual assault trials are often necessary to get justice and protect victims from their abusers’ future actions. However, we have seen both individuals and institutions cover up these heinous offences and protect the abusers responsible. That’s why we recommend working with a skilled lawyer who can protect your rights and help you seek compensation from your abuser.

According to the Canadian Criminal Code, sexual abuse or assault refers to all forms of unconsented or unwanted activity of a sexual nature. These actions may include forced masturbation, unwanted touching, unconsented bodily contact of sexual nature, sexual actions achieved through coercion, rape, sexual intercourse with children, incest, sexual exploitation and more.

How common is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual assault happens too often in our society. One in four North American women get sexually assaulted during their lifetime. About 60% of the sexual assault victims are young people under the age of 17. Unfortunately, only six incidents out of 100 cases of sexual assault and sexual exploitation are reported to the police for investigation.

Considering the low number of cases reported to the police and the fact that 80% of assailants are family or friends of the victim, we can’t imagine how many more sexual violence victims are afraid or unwilling to take legal action. However, victims of unconsented activities of sexual nature should never endure the consequences of such actions alone. Talk to our trusted lawyers, and we will offer the support you need to seek justice.

Types of Sexual Abuse or Assault

Sexual assault is a serious and distressing offence that undermines the dignity and safety of its victims. Understanding the different levels of sexual assault can help in determining the severity and implications of each type. Remember, our lawyers can handle the process of assessing what happened to you and classify the assault.

Sexual Assault Level 1

Also known as common assault, level 1 of sex-related assault is considered the basic form of sexual assault. It involves any unwanted sexual touching or actions that violate a person’s sexual integrity. In these sexual assault cases, the victim may not sustain physical injuries, or the injuries may be minor. The term ‘sexual integrity’ refers to the victim’s right to control their own body and make decisions about their sexual life.

Despite the lack of severe physical harm, the emotional and psychological impacts on the victim can be significant. The law keeps the definition broad to cover a variety of actions that can undermine a person’s sexual integrity. Therefore, you need a lawyer who can prove that the form of unconsented sexual acts you endured violated your sexual integrity.

Sexual Assault Level 2

This level of assault is more severe than common assault and involves the use of a weapon, threats, or actions that cause bodily harm. When an assailant uses a weapon or threatens to use one, it intensifies the victim’s trauma and the legal consequences for the perpetrator. The presence of bodily harm further elevates the gravity of the offence.

This category underscores the law’s recognition of the increased danger and psychological impact on the victim when physical harm or threats are involved. Our lawyers will assess the severity of the offence and personal circumstances as well as evidence to build a strong personal injury claim.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Aggravated assault is the most severe form of assault of a sexual nature. It involves actions that result in serious consequences like wounding, disfiguring, maiming, or even putting the victim’s life at risk. Such acts of sexual assault demonstrate an extreme disregard for the victim’s well-being and dignity. The law treats aggravated sexual assault with the utmost seriousness due to the profound and lasting impact it can have on a victim’s physical and mental health.

Each level of sexual assault is treated with increasing gravity under the law, reflecting the escalating impact and harm inflicted on the victim. It’s crucial for society to understand these distinctions to better support victims and advocate for justice in sexual assault cases. Furthermore, never try to take civil action against your abuser without the help of experienced sexual abuse lawyers.

Steps to Take after Sexual Assault

When someone is assaulted sexually, the aftermath can be overwhelming and confusing. Understanding the steps to take immediately after such an incident can greatly impact a victim’s physical health, emotional well-being, and ability to seek justice and compensation they may be entitled to.

Therefore, the actions you take following a sexual assault are crucial. They play a significant role in your recovery process, both physically and emotionally. They are also pivotal in building a case against the perpetrator if you choose to seek legal redress. Here’s what to do after an assault of a sexual nature.

Prioritize Your Safety

Your immediate priority should be to find a safe place. This could be your home, a friend’s place, a relative’s house, or a shelter. If you are in direct danger, don’t hesitate to call emergency services for immediate help. Remember, your safety is paramount, and law enforcement officers or other first responders can help keep you safe.

Seek Medical Attention

After ensuring your safety, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Medical professionals can treat any physical injuries and provide post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. They can also address potential pregnancy concerns and help you get emotional support from a professional.

A critical step during the medical examination is the administration of a rape kit, which is essential for collecting forensic evidence. This evidence is crucial if you decide to press charges, and the optimal time for collection is within 72 to 96 hours after the assault. To preserve evidence, avoid showering, changing clothes, or even combing your hair before the medical examination.

Even if the assault occurred in the past, medical attention is still vital. Health professionals can check for STDs, address any ongoing physical issues, and provide necessary care. Remember, comprehensive medical records detailing the assessment and treatment after sexual assault form a solid foundation for your claim.

Get Professional Support

Dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault can be isolating, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you feel unable to confide in friends or family, consider reaching out to a crisis hotline or support group where you can speak anonymously and receive the support you need. You can also get professional support from a lawyer who specializes in helping victims of sexual violence.

The psychological impact of sexual assault can be as profound as the physical one. Engaging with a mental health professional can help you find ways to process the trauma, embark on the path to recovery, and regain a sense of control and normalcy in your life. An experienced and compassionate lawyer at Joshua Goldberg Law can help you access the mental health support you need.

Retain an Experienced Lawyer

While sexual assault is a criminal offence, and the perpetrator can be prosecuted, it’s essential to understand that the legal system can be complex and challenging to navigate. Hiring an experienced sexual assault lawyer who specializes in sexual violence cases can offer you the guidance and support you need to pursue justice and compensation. A lawyer can help you understand your rights, the legal process, and what to expect moving forward.

Keep detailed notes about the assault and any subsequent interactions related to the incident, including conversations with law enforcement, medical personnel, and mental health professionals. This documentation can be invaluable in building a strong case if you decide to take civil legal action. Remember, your lawyer can help take civil action against your abuser. This often ends with proper compensation for the damages survivors of sexual-related assault suffer.

At Joshua Goldberg Law, we understand that recovering from sexual assault or abuse is a deeply personal and often challenging journey. It’s okay to seek help from professionals you can trust. Taking the steps mentioned above does not diminish your strength or resilience. Prioritize your well-being and lean on our law firm. It’s possible to regain a sense of empowerment and hope after such a traumatic experience.

Legal Options for Sexual Abuse Survivors

Each individual who experiences sexual assault has different reactions and needs. The legal options available to them may vary. Therefore, you should decide what you want to do based on the issues you can handle and not based on someone else’s needs. However, it’s recommended to talk to someone you trust and consult an experienced lawyer to understand your options.

Should you Call the Police?

If you’re in immediate danger, call 911 (the police) for immediate help. Your safety is important. However, if you’re not in immediate danger, you can take the time to think whether you want to talk to the police or not. It’s your choice.

Most survivors of violent sexual acts choose not to report their assault to the police and their reasons for this. For instance, sexual assault causes both physical and emotional harm to the victim. This harm is worsened by feelings of embarrassment and shame. Some victims may not want the issue to go public because their assailant was a close friend, family member, intimate partner, or even a co-worker.

In some situations, survivors may experience racial, religious, cultural, or language-related barriers and discrimination when trying for justice in accordance with the Criminal Code in Canada. The reality is that some criminal defence lawyers and biased police officers still believe many of the misconceptions about sexual assault. When interacting with such people, survivors are likely to feel that they are responsible for what happened to them. This isn’t right.

Besides, the criminal justice process requires the victim to tell their story on different occasions, sometimes to less compassionate people. This is like reliving the horrific assault, and survivors often feel victimized.

Others fear being cross-examined by an experienced criminal defence lawyer (defendant’s lawyer) in a sexual assault trial. Such an experienced criminal lawyer will talk about the complainant’s prior sexual history, addiction issues, mental health, and other personal topics. While there are specific laws to protect victims from revealing such sensitive information, it can still be part of the legal process under the Criminal Code.

Are there other Legal Options?

Most victims of sex-related assault think that calling the police officers and using the criminal law is the only option they have. Well, this is the only legal option to help you send your assailant to jail. However, there are other ways to hold your abuser accountable. These include:

Human Rights Complaint

According to Ontario’s Human Rights Code, it’s against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their ancestry, race, family status, sex, gender expression, and more. Thus, sexual assault is more than just a criminal offence. It is a form of discrimination or sexual harassment based on your sex, and it’s against human rights laws.

Ontario’s Human Rights Code protects you from discrimination in housing, employment, access to facilities, membership in unions, and in relation to making contracts. Thus, if you were assaulted sexually at your workplace, trying to access government services, or by a landlord, you can file a human rights complaint. Our lawyers can help file such a complaint.

Victim Quick Response Program

The option offers financial support to crime victims, their immediate family members, and those who witnessed violent crimes for a short period. The financial assistance is intended to lessen the impact of the offence, ensure safety, and address any immediate needs that the recipients may have. If you qualify for financial assistance under the Victim Quick Response Program, you will get financial support for your needs, such as:

  • Short-term counselling
  • Basic necessities
  • Support needed for serious injuries
  • Emergency expenses for your home safety
  • The funeral expenses for families of victims of violent crimes

All applications to this program must be made to the service providers in your community. They will assess your application to determine your eligibility.

Professional Disciplinary or Governing Body

Depending on the circumstances, another option for victims is to report an assault of a sexual nature to the professional governing body or disciplinary committee. For instance, if you were assaulted by an individual you attend school with, you can report them to the university’s disciplinary committee or administration. The student could get expelled or suspended.

Starting in January 2017, changes in Ontario’s laws require all universities and colleges to have strict policies regarding offences of a sexual nature. These policies dictate how the institutions respond to complaints and the procedure for investigating sexual assault allegations.

Suppose you were assaulted by a professional like a dentist, doctor, or even your coach. In that case, you can report the matter to the regulatory body governing the abuser’s profession. Many professions have organizations in charge of licensing the individuals who want to practice a particular profession. These organizations have rules that must be followed if the licensed professional wants to keep their license.

Additionally, these organizations have a procedure for people to file complaints about inappropriate behaviour or sexual misconduct by a professional. There are also complaint committees or disciplinary bodies that investigate all allegations of misconduct and determine whether the professional’s official license should be suspended or revoked.

Reporting any crime of a sexual nature to a professional governing body or disciplinary committee requires you to have credible evidence that the alleged sexual assault happened. This process often involves a hearing, where you (the complainant) and the accused person will tell your versions of what happened.

You may be requested to mediate with your assailant. Facing your abuser in such settings can be difficult. Thus, it’s recommended to have a compassionate lawyer to guide you and ensure any mediation ends with no violations of your rights and interests. Our experienced lawyers at Joshua Goldberg Law can provide legal advice regarding such mediation and offer legal representation.

File a Civil Lawsuit

Victims of sexual assault can consider suing their attackers in a civil court. This can be done even when there’s a criminal case against the accused (under Canada’s Criminal Code) or if there is no sexual assault conviction. Note that a civil suit is considered a private action. It happens between you and the accused person who assaulted you.

A civil case is usually intended to help the victim get monetary compensation for the damage or loss associated with the assault incident. Perhaps you lost wages because of missing work, needed to replace damaged clothing or had to pay for medical services. You need a skilled sexual assault lawyer to gather the facts and build a strong personal injury claim.

Remember, civil law doesn’t assign criminal responsibility. Therefore, there’s no Crown attorney involvement in civil lawsuits. You are the plaintiff or complainant, and the person who allegedly assaulted you is the defendant or respondent. Both sides will require lawyers for legal representation in settlement negotiations or court trials.

Yes, You Can Sue Your Attacker

Beyond the confines of the criminal justice system, sexual violence survivors have the right to pursue civil action against their abusers. This legal pathway allows them to seek compensation for the harm they have endured. This harm may include both economic losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.

It’s important to note that physical injury is not a prerequisite for seeking damages. Additionally, liability may extend beyond the assailant, potentially implicating other individuals or entities that contributed to the circumstances of the abuse. Therefore, it is indeed possible to sue your sexual abuser and other responsible parties to seek justice and compensation for your suffering. This is best done with the help of a dedicated legal team, as these sexual assault cases can be quite complex.

Statute of Laminations for Sexual Assault Claims

In Ontario, the Limitations Act of 2002 governs all limitation periods for filing a lawsuit. A limitation period refers to the time window you have to start a legal action against another individual or entity. The standard limitation is two years from the time of the incident or the date the damages were discovered.

Thus, failing to commence a legal action within that period could be used as a defence by the accused person, and this can harm your claim. Before 2016, sexual assault victims were legally required to factor in this statute of limitations. However, s.16(1)(h) of Ontario’s Limitations Act clearly provided that there wasn’t a limitation period for personal injury claims based on sex-related assault if the abuser had a charge of the victim or was in a position of trust at the time of the assault.

Bill 132 and the Current Statute of Limitations

The Bill 132 Sexual Violence & Harassment Action Plan Act (2016) supports survivors of sexual crimes and challenges all forms of sexual harassment and violence. To achieve its intended purpose, it amended s.16 (1) (h) of Ontario’s Limitations Act to remove the limitation period for all claims related to sex-related offences. Thus, there’s no limitation period for sexual assault claims.

Further, the 2016 amendment applies retroactively. That means sexual assault survivors can advance claims even if the limitation time that was previously in place has expired. However, there’s an exception. You can’t advance a claim if courts previously dismissed your claim or were fully settled by the parties involved.

The move to remove the limitation period for claims based on sex-related assaults expands the protection afforded to sexual assault victims. Indeed, they now have the time to emotionally process what happened to them without having to adhere to strict timelines.

Civil Litigation Process

The civil action process for claims involving sexual assault provides an alternative path for survivors to seek compensation and justice. Unlike criminal proceedings, some civil cases reach settlements outside of court, allowing for resolution without the need for a sexual assault trial. This process can offer a more private and potentially less confrontational avenue for victims to achieve closure and restitution. Here’s an overview of what to expect when pursuing compensation.

The Initial Steps

The claim process often begins with our skilled sexual assault lawyer drafting a written demand for a financial settlement from the assailant or their employer. This step can occur even before a lawsuit is filed and aims to resolve the matter swiftly and avoid the complexities of court proceedings. However, the possibility of settling the claim at this stage depends on the abusers’ willingness and readiness to settle.

The accused’s decision to settle can be influenced by various factors, such as the strength of the evidence, their admissions, outcomes of any related criminal actions, and considerations regarding their or an institution’s reputation. Our lawyers will leverage information regarding these factors to strengthen your claim and obtain fair compensation.

Settlement Negotiations

Institutions, especially those with significant public profiles like churches, may seek to settle promptly if they anticipate a weak defence in court. If a settlement is reached, it often includes a confidentiality agreement, which prohibits both parties from publicly discussing the case or taking it to court. Therefore, if the accused is willing to settle, our lawyers will handle the settlement negotiations on your behalf. This way, we ensure you get the amount of compensation you legally deserve.

Filing a Statement of Claim

If no settlement is reached, the next step involves filing a Statement of Claim, which officially starts the legal proceedings. Following this, both parties engage in a discovery process, questioning each other under oath and exchanging all pertinent evidence. This stage is critical as it allows both sides to fully understand the extent and details of the case.

It’s recommended to have an experienced lawyer on your side during the discovery process. While both sides are required to share information including the evidence in their possession, that information shouldn’t be subject to privilege. Your lawyer can guide you on what to say and not say or share to avoid harming your claim.

Alternative Resolution Methods

After discovery, many cases are resolved through alternative means like arbitration, mediation, or consultation. If your claim settles at this stage, there’s no need for a trial. These methods can offer a more private and less adversarial resolution to the case. Still, your lawyer will ensure you get a fair settlement.

Going to Trial

If the claim proceeds to trial, various measures are taken to protect the victim’s identity, such as limiting public access to the courtroom. During the trial, both parties present their narratives, supported by testimony from medical and financial experts and any available physical evidence.

During your claim trial, having our skilled lawyers on your side can make the difference between fair compensation and getting nothing. Our legal professionals are experienced in navigating the courtroom’s complex dynamics. This will ensure your side of the story is presented clearly and empathetically. They have the skills to cross-examine witnesses effectively, challenge opposing evidence, and argue legal points with precision.

Indeed, our competence not only enhances the chances of a favourable outcome but also provides crucial support to you (the victim). This can alleviate the stress associated with recounting traumatic experiences on a public platform like a court.

Verdict and Damages

The trial concludes with a judgment, where the court determines the assailant’s liability and the compensation owed to you (the victim) for your suffering and other losses. This compensation covers a range of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and any other related costs.

The civil action process for sexual assault claims is a structured yet flexible framework that aims to provide justice and reparations to survivors. It underscores the legal system’s recognition of the profound personal impacts of sexual assault, offering a path to accountability and healing for victims. Work with our lawyers to get fair compensation and hold those responsible for your ordeal accountable.

Financial Compensation or Damages in Claims Involving Sexual Assault

An important question that victims of sexual assault ask is about the calculation of the damages. Note that the purpose of a verdict in a civil case is to put the victim back in the position they would be in had the sexual offence not been committed. Sure, no amount of money can reverse the horrific wrongs done to you. However, it’s a theory that Canadian courts work under. Here are the damages you can seek.

Pain and Suffering

This category of damages quantifies the emotional and physical distress you endured due to the assault. It covers both the immediate trauma and its lingering effects. In Canada, there is a notable cap on pain and suffering damages, set by the Supreme Court at approximately $300,000.

This ceiling applies regardless of the severity of the physical or emotional injury. It ensures a standardized approach across similar cases, although it limits the compensation for this specific type of damage.

Future Income Losses or Diminished Earning Capacity

Sexual assault can profoundly affect your career trajectory. The calculation of future income losses involves estimating the potential earnings you would have achieved had the assault not occurred. This estimation considers the assault’s impact on your educational pursuits and career progression. After all, the trauma can lead to educational interruptions, hinder job performance, or even limit overall career opportunities.

The court will delve into your circumstances to derive a figure that aims to offset these lost opportunities and earnings. Remember, having experienced sexual assault lawyers in your corner empowers you to present credible information and evidence to support your claim. This increases your chances of obtaining the highest possible compensation under this category.

Punitive Damages

Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed to punish the perpetrator and serve as a deterrent against such egregious conduct. While not as common in sexual assault cases, when awarded, these damages reflect the perpetrator’s financial status and the severity of their actions. The rationale is that the sum should be significant enough to impact the assailant or their employer in cases of vicarious liability.

Consequently, the amount can vary widely, tailored to the specific context of the perpetrator or the entity held responsible. Keep in mind that our lawyers have assessed many sexual assault allegations and handled numerous sexual assault trials. Thus, they have first-hand experience and will fight for your right to justice.

At Joshua Goldberg Law, we know that no monetary compensation can fully rectify the harm done to you. However, the pursuit of these damages is a crucial step in your unique journey toward healing and justice.

Why Joshua Goldberg Law?

Choosing Joshua Goldberg Law for your sexual assault claim means partnering with a law firm that prioritizes your well-being and justice. Our legal team has a deep understanding and experience in sexual assault law and ensures every client receives representation that is not only skilled but also empathetic and respectful of the sensitive issues involved.

Our lawyers specialize in sexual assault cases and bring a wealth of knowledge of the legal challenges these cases present. This specialization means that sexual assault survivors are supported by professionals who are well-versed in the complexities of sexual assault law.

The journey through the legal system can be daunting, especially in cases as personal and sensitive as sexual assault. At Joshua Goldberg Law, we stand by our clients at every step, offering clarity and guidance. From the initial consultation to evidence collection, filing legal documents, and courtroom representation, our team ensures survivors of sexual assault are fully informed and supported throughout the entire process.

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