Sexual Assault: Commonly asked questions | Allen and Allen

Sexual Assault: Commonly asked questions

sexual assault information session flyer

Recently, the Allen Law Firm began accepting cases for Dr. Lewis Dabney, M.D. of Lynchburg Gynecology. Due to the overwhelming response, we wanted to help those seeking justice by providing some answers to frequently asked questions. This information does not only apply to this particular case, but sexual assault and harassment cases in general.

woman being asually harassed at work

How can I get justice against the person who sexually assaulted or harassed me?

If you have been sexually assaulted or harassed, you can pursue justice through the criminal and civil justice systems. You can also file a complaint with the Medical Board.

Criminal Justice

To pursue criminal charges against your abuser, you would call the police department and report what happened to you. The police will investigate the allegations. If they find sufficient evidence, criminal charges will be issued, and the police will arrest the suspect. The Commonwealth’s Attorney will prosecute the suspect. If he is found guilty, the Court could sentence him to imprisonment and order him to pay fines and restitution. The telephone number for the Lynchburg Police Department is (434) 455-6050. The non-emergency dispatch telephone number for the Lynchburg Police Department is (434) 847-1602.

If your case took place outside of the Lynchburg area, please call the police department assigned to your jurisdiction.

Civil (Monetary) Remedies

The civil justice system is designed to seek compensation for injury victims and to restore them, as much as possible, to the condition that they were in before they were injured. In the civil justice system, injured persons (called “plaintiffs”) can pursue monetary compensation against their abuser.

Medical Board Complaints

In addition to pursuing criminal justice and civil remedies, you can file a complaint against a medical provider who abused you with The Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP). The DHP’s Enforcement Division receives and investigates those complaints. You can find information about filing a complaint with the DHP, including how to file a complaint anonymously, at the Enforcement Division’s website.

depressed victim of sexual harassment

What types of monetary compensation are available in the civil justice system?

In the civil justice system, victims of sexual assault and harassment can pursue claims for compensatory and punitive damages against the abuser.

Compensatory Damages

Injury victims can pursue compensation for the physical pain and mental anguish that they suffered as a result of the abuse. Injury victims can also seek compensation for their past and future counseling bills, medical bills, prescription medications, and lost wages, that result from the sexual assault and harassment.

Punitive Damages

Injury victims can also pursue punitive damages against their abuser. In cases involving intentional and egregious conduct, courts can order defendants to pay punitive damages, which is an amount of money that is significant enough to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter them from engaging in similar conduct in the future. They are also intended to make an example out of the defendant, so that other wrongdoers will think twice before they engage in the same type of wrongful conduct.

Woman being sexually harassed at work

I am worried about my privacy. Can I protect my identity?

In Virginia, you pursue your claim pseudonymously, which means that you can file a lawsuit against your abuser under an anonymous name (such as “Jane Doe v. [Name of Abuser]”). In addition, the Court can issue a protective order to limit the people who have access to information about your claim, to require the parties to file documents under seal (so that they are not available the public), and to ensure that your information is handled in a private and confidential manner.

In addition, you can rest assured that your communications with your attorneys are protected by the attorney-client privilege. This means that you can speak freely with your attorneys about the abuse and your legal options, without worrying about whether the information that you share with your attorneys will be disclosed to others.

I cannot afford a lawyer. Is this going to be expensive?

At Allen & Allen, we do not get paid unless we obtain money for you in a settlement or through a verdict at trial. In addition, our law firm will cover the litigation expenses associated with your claim until it resolves in your favor, at which point we will be reimbursed from the proceeds of the settlement or verdict.

I am not sure if I have a claim for sexual assault or harassment. How can I find out?

The definitions for sexual assault and harassment are broader than you might realize. If you are unsure whether you have been sexually assaulted or harassed, please call us.

Sad woman after a sexuual assault

I was abused a while ago. Is it too late for me to pursue a civil claim?

The deadline for you to pursue your sexual assault or harassment claim (called the “statute of limitations”) depends upon a number of factors including:

  • When you were abused
  • How old you were when you were abused
  • Whether your abuser was facing criminal charges for his assault on you (which gives you additional time to file your lawsuit)
  • The law at the time of the abuse

Virginia’s statute of limitations in sexual assault cases has been amended three times since 2011, to make it easier for the victims of sexual assault to bring claims against their abusers. Our attorneys can advise you of the statute of limitations in your case.

Do I need a lawyer?

If you think you might want to pursue a civil claim against the person who abused you, we invite you to contact us. Our experienced and compassionate team of legal professionals will analyze and advise you about your claim, and determine whether or not you may be entitled to compensation. Our consultation is free, and we will not share the information that you tell us with others. Call today, at 866-388-1307.

The information above is intended to provide general guidance information and does not constitute legal advice. You should not rely upon the information above in considering your individual situation. If you have questions about your claim, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.