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Child Sexual Abuse Case Q&A

Answers from Trusted Attorneys

There is nothing simple about a child sexual abuse case. Simply bringing up the topic and considering filing a claim against the person or parties that abused you when you were younger can be painful and intimidating. Yet to seek justice and a sense of closure, such a claim may be necessary.

Our attorneys from Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP are here to make this legal process as less stressful for you as possible. To start, we have shared information about child sexual abuse cases and lawsuits, organized here in a helpful questions-and-answers list. Please review the list as you wish.

If you have further questions or want our help with a child sex abuse claim filed in New York, call (212) 684-1880 whenever you are ready.

Q: What is child sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse includes any instance of unwanted sexual advances, harassment, or assault. Many cases originate in religious settings and commonly involve priests and other church leaders who force or coerce young church members to engage in abusive acts.

A sexual abuse case may center on incidents such as:

  • Rape
  • Molestation
  • Harassment
  • Coercion
  • Sharing of sexual images or messages

Q: What is the difference between criminal charges and civil liability?

Sexual abuse is a crime. A perpetrator can be charged with a crime and sentenced to jail time or fines to penalize them for committing abuse. Although abusers can be held accountable in criminal court, civil lawsuits provide victims with another outlet for justice.

The goal of sexual abuse civil lawsuits is to hold perpetrators accountable and provide justice to victims in the form of financial compensation. In sexual abuse cases, the resulting damages are primarily non-economic, such as those related to pain and suffering, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). No amount of money can undo what the perpetrator did, but it can help bring a sense of closure and much-needed financial stability, especially if you have struggled to hold gainful employment due to mental health difficulties triggered by the abuse.

Q: What are some of the different entities that the attorneys at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP are litigating against?

Our attorneys have experience bringing claims against these defendants and more:

  • Catholic Church
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • United Methodist Church
  • Presbyterian Church
  • Baptist Church
  • Temples and Synagogues
  • Daycare providers
  • Boy Scouts
  • YMCA
  • Public and private grade schools, high schools, and colleges
  • Boarding schools
  • Doctors and hospitals
  • Foster care agencies

Q: How much time from the abuse do I have to file a lawsuit?

In New York, victims who were sexually abused as children can now file lawsuits against abusers and other responsible parties until they are 55 years of age. This extensive statute of limitations is meant to give claimants ample time to come to terms with what happened and decide when they are ready to take action.

The Child Victims Act also includes a “look-back window” provision for a period of time in which all childhood sexual abuse and assault claims will be considered, regardless of when an incident occurred, an accuser’s current age, or the validity of their claim under the previous statute of limitations laws. From August 14th, 2019 to August 14th, 2021, there will be no statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases.

Q: Do I have to live in New York to file a lawsuit with Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP?

For a New York lawsuit, the abuse had to occur in New York. However, if you live in another state where the abuse occurred, there may be courts where your claim can be filed.

Q: How much money do I have to pay for a lawsuit? How much are settlements?

We represent people on a contingency fee basis. Our firm gets paid only if you get a recovery. Settlements values obtained against sexual offenders are kept confidential. Although, reports state that churches have paid billions of dollars in settlements that have been spread among many victims. There are many considerations that go into the ultimate settlement amount. We can discuss that with you confidentially. However, sometimes defendants have limited funds or are bankrupt, which can reduce settlement amounts in ways outside of the court’s control.

Q: Do I have to speak with an attorney in person at any time?

No. Interviews are done over the phone. Everything remains confidential.

Q: How can I prove my sexual abuse case?

Many religious and private institutions have detailed records of abusers and abuse. There can also be records of your attendance or participation with a certain group. Cases can be proved on your memory of the incident and the name of the abuser, too. If you do not remember or know the name, we have access to certain names of employees at a given location and time. Our attorneys are well-versed in complex evidence discovery to find proof of the abuse wherever it might be.

Q: Can you file a child abuse case anonymously?

In many cases, we try to settle a case before a suit is filed. This can be done through a discrete settlement process. Information that does not go to trial often remains confidential. If a lawsuit needs to be filed, we can seek to have this filed anonymously by discussing the matter privately with court officials.

Q: Will I have to make court appearances?

As most claims get settled prior to suit, court appearances are often not needed. If a lawsuit is filed, you probably would not have any reason to appear in court up to the point of the trial. It is possible to reach a settlement after filing a lawsuit but before going to trial, too.

Q: Do the sexual abuse attorneys at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP handle criminal cases?

No, we only handle civil lawsuits for plaintiffs. Criminal cases are done by district attorneys. We will, nonetheless, cooperate with them as needed to improve your claim’s chances of success.

Remember:If you have more questions or need our help with your claim, then we are always ready to accept your call. Dial (212) 684-1880 to schedule a free consultation.