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Can I Sue the Employer of an Employee Who Commits Sexual Assault or Sexual Abuse?

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Being sexually abused is a nightmare no one should experience, but unfortunately, many do every day. But if the criminal is an employee that was working at the time of the assault, there may be more than one avenue to justice for the victim. Read on for what you need to know.

What Is the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse?

In some ways, these are similar actions done to someone against their will. However, sexual assault is often used to describe offesnes against an adult, while sexual abuse often refers to offesnes against a child.

Sexual assault can include:

  • Forced nonconsensual intercourse. This often involves a situation that occurs only once, especially when strangers are involved. Rape is one form of forced nonconsensual intercourse, but not the only one. It can also involve unwanted rectal or genital contact, or it can be the victim being forced to perform sexual acts on the abuser against the victim’s will.
  • Unwanted touching. In this circumstance, the assaulter usually touches the victim somewhere around the genitals or breasts without the victim’s permission.

Sexual abuse can include:

  • Any sexual act done to a minor under the age of 16, which is the age of legal consent in Pennsylvania. That includes intercourse or fondling. Prior to turning 16, the minor has no legal right to consent to intercourse or any sexual activity.
  • An adult deliberately exposing their genitals to a minor.
  • Showing pornography or sending obscene messages to a minor.

Can an Employer Be Held Liable for the Employee’s Crime?

There are situations where the employer may be held responsible for the employee committing sexual abuse.

Here are a few:

The employer knew or reasonably should have known that the employee was a risk for committing sexual crimes and did nothing to prevent the crimes from occurring. This can sometimes be difficult to prove, and it’s highly recommended that someone work with an experienced sexual abuse attorney to develop the strongest case possible.

The employer either didn’t do proper due diligence in researching the employee’s background before hiring them, or did a background check that uncovered past crimes and hired the person anyway.

The employer has been given reason to believe that the employee has problematic behaviors and hasn’t taken steps to alleviate or correct them or let the employee go.

What Evidence is Used in Sexual Abuse Cases?

There are different kinds of evidence that can be used to prove sexual abuse cases. In a case that involves penetration, any semen left behind can be analyzed. In other cases, there may be traces of DNA that can be studied, whether on the victim or at the location the crime occurred.

  • The victim may have various injuries that are consistent with assault or abuse, including signs of struggle, including black eyes or bruises, and there may be bruising or tears to the victim’s genital area.
  • If there were witnesses, their testimony can make a compelling case. They may not have had to witness the actual crime, but may have noticed odd behavior on the part of the attacker before the crime, or noticed them slipping something into the victim’s drink.
  • Digital traces. These can be as overt as the criminal posting video or photos of the actual abuse online. It can be more subtle, such as social media posts that indicate the whereabouts of the attacker at the time of the attack. Cell phone records can also be helpful.
  • In cases of sexual abuse, searching the computer of the charged individual may turn up pornographic materials that match what the child says they saw, or there may be child pornography which, while not proving the abuse, could be a separate charge.

Would the Employer Face Criminal Charges for the Sexual Abuse Committed by an Employee?

Criminal charges are usually reserved for the person who actively committed the crime. When an employee of a third party organization, didn’t commit the crime, but was responsible for allowing it to occur they may not be charged. This can seem frustrating to the victim, who would like to see criminal charges facing all involved.

However, it’s crucial to understand that a successful civil suit could lead to financial damages paid to the victim, which could help pay medical bills, therapy fees, lost wages, relocation costs if they need to move, and provide the victim compensation for the emotional pain and suffering caused by the crime.

What if the Employer Offers Me a Settlement?

If the employer, their insurance representative, or their attorney reaches out to discuss a settlement, don’t respond to them. Their goal is to get you to say something that could weaken your case or to convince you to accept a settlement that’s far lower than you might otherwise receive. Whether they call, send a letter, or write an email, do not engage. Instead, refer all communications to your attorney.

What Should I Do if I Was Sexually Assaulted or Abused by an Employee Who Was Working?

Call Andreozzi & Foote at 866-311-8640 for a free confidential consultation. This was no doubt one of the most terrifying and stressful situations you’ve encountered in your life. You deserve to have a compassionate, experienced sexual abuse attorney handling your case to work for the best possible outcomes for you. These are complicated cases that benefit from a lawyer who’s knowledgeable about the law and how to construct a strong case.

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