Minnesota’s Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Lawyers
We help survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault by giving them the opportunity to hold their abusers fully accountable for all the harm that was created. Using the law to hold a sexual abuser responsible for what he or she has done takes courage. While it is often an empowering experience for our clients, it is not an easy task. Those survivors who are willing to stand up and expose their perpetrators should be commended. They make it easier for other sex abuse victims to come forward, and they make it harder for perpetrators to continue operating "under the radar." Sexual abuse is a persistent and damaging problem in our society. Only by exposing abusers and forcing them to face justice can we bring about the change necessary to stop more abuse from occurring.
Our lawyers have secured some of the most substantial sexual abuse and sex assault victories in Minnesota state history. Recent results include a $10,500,000.00 verdict obtained by Michael Hall III, in which a Stearns County jury held an adult male responsible for having sexually abused his own niece. Another recent lawsuit also handled by Mr. Hall involved a $4,000,000.00 judgment against a man who was found guilty of sexually abusing his own minor children.
Sexual abuse cases present unique legal challenges that require the skill of an attorney experienced in this area of the law. The attorneys at Hall Law are experts in sexual abuse cases. Firm lawyers have litigated sex abuse claims in both Minnesota and California and have been holding perpetrators accountable for for years.
From our two main offices in Edina and St. Cloud we serve sex abuse clients statewide, from the Minneapolis metro, to Central and Northern Minnesota. If you're a survivor of sexual abuse, and you're wondering about your legal options, you are welcome to call our office for advice.
What is sexual abuse?
According to Minnesota law the term "sexual abuse" describes those physical acts which, if committed, would constitute criminal sexual conduct. Criminal sexual conduct includes an array of wrongful acts set forth in Minnesota statute sections 609.342 through 609.345. In this context it is probably not useful to recount all the different circumstances of sexual abuse contemplated by the statute. Instead, it is sufficient to note that sexual abuse typically involves either: (1) acts of intentional sexual contact or sexual penetration upon a minor, or (2) intentional, non-consensual, sexual contact or sexual penetration upon an adult. Non-consensual abuse can occur in a variety of contexts including situations involving force, coercion, or situations where the victim is mentally incapacitated and thus unable to give consent.
Unfortunately sexual abuse and sexual assault remain a significant problem in our society. Abuse can occur in multiple different venues including our schools, the work place, and even in our religious centers. Such abuse can take on many forms and can include acts such as rape, sexual assault, improper touching and/or fondling. Moreover, the perpetrators of such abuse can come from all different sectors of our society. By their very nature, acts of sexual abuse and sexual assault often remain secret and hidden from public scrutiny. As a result, those who perpetrate such acts often go on with their lives without ever being held responsible for their crimes. In recent years that phenomenon has been changing. More and more victims are coming forward and holding their attackers responsible for their actions in civil court.
what is the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases?
Minnesota state law requires that actions for sexual abuse be brought within specified time periods. This period is commonly referred to as the statute of limitations. Claims that are not brought within the limitations period may be barred forever. If you or one of your loved ones has a potential claim for sexual abuse, it is important that you contact a lawyer well in advance of the limitations deadline.
In Minnesota the statute of limitations for damages caused by acts of sexual abuse, commonly called the delayed discovery rule, provides: "An action for damages based on personal injury caused by sexual abuse must be commenced within six years of the time the plaintiff knew or had reason to know that the injury was caused by the sexual abuse." Minn.Stat. § 541.073, subd. 2(a). The Minnesota Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean the six year statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases begins to run when a victim is abused unless there is some legal disability, such as the victim's age, or mental disability, such as repressed memory of the abuse, which would make a reasonable person incapable of recognizing or understanding that he or she had been sexually abused
Minor victims of sexual abuse are a special case. As alluded to above, a victim's minor status will be considered a legal disability, and pursuant to Minnesota case law, it appears that unless there is some additional disability which would make the victim incapable of recognizing that he or she had been abused, a victim who was a minor at the time of the subject abuse should commence suit before reaching the age of 24.
The above discussion regarding the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases is accurate as of October 11, 2010. Laws change over time. If you are viewing this after October 11, 2010 and you have questions about the statute of limitations for sex abuse claims you should consult a lawyer.
What legal options are available to a victim of sexual abuse?
In Minnesota, in the civil law context, a victim of sexual abuse may bring an action against (1) the person who committed sexual abuse against the victim, or (2) the entity which negligently permitted sexual abuse against the victim to occur. Thus, Minnesota law permits sexual abuse actions against both the actual abuser and against those who were in such a position that they could have and should have stopped the abuse from occurring.
Ramifications of Sexual Abuse
The residual effects of sexual abuse can develop and intensify over time. Symptoms which are common in survivors include: feelings of guilt, shame, helplessness and hopelessness. Victims of sexual abuse often turn to alcohol or drug dependence as a way to escape these feelings. Many sexual abuse survivors have problems in their personal relationships and in their careers.
Abuse survivors often suffer severe emotional harm requiring long term counseling and other forms of mental health treatment. If you are the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault, we recommend you see a mental health professional so they can provide you with professional assistance as you work through the difficulties that abuse victims often face. We believe victims of sexual abuse are well served by establishing a relationship with a therapist so that in times of emotional crisis they have someone they can turn to.
Preserve Your Rights
At Hall Law, our attorneys are experts in sexual abuse litigation. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault you are welcome to call and talk with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys to discuss your legal options. Consultation with our attorneys is free and confidential. 1 (800) 292-1979.