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Apr 302012

Sex abuse is horrific, sometimes worse than the most physically violent crimes. The damage sex abuse causes can be tremendous. Lives are shattered. Many victims will never be the same.

Sex abuse is often perpetrated by those in a position of power over others, such as: priests, clergy, teachers, coaches, bosses, therapists, doctors, etc.

Here are three common questions that sex abuse victims ask about filing a civil lawsuit:

1. What is the difference between the civil system and the criminal system?

There are many differences between the two systems. The main difference is the result, or what happens to the defendant. The civil system punishes a defendant by granting the victim/plaintiff money damages. The criminal system punishes a defendant with actual punishment (jail, probation, etc.). The process in both is similar: investigation, trial or settlement.

Another difference is in the length of the process. Criminal cases can be resolved within 1-2 years, whereas civil cases may take 2-3 years, on average.

2. Can a civil case be filed even if a criminal case was never filed?

Criminal cases and civil cases are entirely separate of each other. Neither depends on the other. For a sex abuse victim who never came forward to file a criminal case or if a criminal case was dismissed, a civil case can always be brought, so long as the statute of limitations for the sex abuse case has not expired.

3. Can the victim’s privacy be protected?

There are measures which can be taken to protect the victim’s privacy. For instance, the victim’s initials can be used in pleadings, addresses can be redacted, and deposition transcripts and other written discovery can be sealed. However, the victim will still have to testify at a deposition and possible trial.

Related Article: Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey Sex Abuse Civil Justice Cases

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

 Posted by on April 30, 2012 Sexual Abuse