We all know that child sexual abuse is illegal, and the law rightly provides serious criminal penalties for those who perpetrate such crimes. The criminal justice system is meant to hold the perpetrator responsible for his or her acts. In criminal cases, it is the state that is acting on behalf of its citizens, not the individual.  The purpose of civil litigation is for the victims to obtain their own personal justice by way of actions to seek monetary damages. But when should victims pursue civil litigation? Why is the prudent course for victims to wait until the criminal case is resolved one way or the other?

You have legal options if you were a victim of child sexual abuse. Reach out to attorney Paul Mones to learn more.

Criminal Versus Civil Cases

The law punishes a number of sexual crimes committed against children, with the possibility of serious prison time for those who engage in these despicable acts. However, there are limitations to what the criminal justice system can do. For one, the criminal courts only punish the individuals who directly commit these crimes. Also, the criminal justice system is only concerned with punishing and deterring criminal actions. It’s not concerned with obtaining just compensation for victims. That’s the job of the civil justice system. Victims of child sexual abuse can file a civil lawsuit to seek monetary compensation from from institutions that shielded their abusers s or facilitated their actions. 

Why Does Victim Compensation Matter?

Some child sexual abuse victims are not sure whether to demand compensation through a civil suit. There are some explanations for this uncertainty. Many victims think that as long as their abusers are arrested and sent to prison, they can close the chapter and move on with their lives. Still, others are not aware that they can pursue other parties, besides the abuser, in civil court.

While sexual abusers certainly deserve to be held accountable in the criminal courts, monetary compensation is an essential part of the victims’  healing process. It’s been well-documented that child sexual abuse victims have higher incidences of depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and many other problems. These problems will sometimes last for several years or perhaps even a lifetime.

Victims typically need professional medical and psychiatric treatment to deal with these issues before they can begin to recover. Monetary compensation can help them get the services they need. Compensation may help pay for:

  • Hospitalization in the event of a suicide attempt
  • Psychiatric treatment and therapy
  • Mental health counseling
  • Prescription drug medications for anxiety and depression
  • Rehabilitation and other treatment for drug and alcohol abuse that develop later

Why Sexual Abuse Victims Should Wait Until The Criminal Case Is Done

So why would a victim want to wait to pursue a civil case until the criminal one is complete? Victims can use evidence introduced in the criminal trial to hold the defendant, and others, liable in a civil lawsuit. The evidence might concern not just the abuser’s actions, but actions taken by companies or organizations that covered up and perpetuated the sexual abuse.

Remember, too, that civil cases have a different and  lower burden of proof than criminal cases. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did what he or she is accused of. In a civil case, the standard of proof is typically, based upon the state, a preponderance of the evidence. Under this evidentiary standard, the plaintiff meets the burden of proof by showing that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true.

Ask Us About The Best Strategy For Bringing Your Abuser To Justice

While every case is different, it’s often a good idea to wait until the defendant’s criminal trial is over before pursuing a civil claim. Paul Mones, P.C. can help. He has worked on behalf of countless child sexual abuse victims for decades, winning them the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one were abused as a child, give us a call to learn more about your legal rights.