Most attackers who commit sexual assault think their victims won’t tell. They think their victims will be too afraid or too weak to confront them. These sexual attackers often move from one victim to another, never believing that their victims will take action or that they’ll have to face the consequences of what they do.
We empower victims. We help survivors of sexual assault regain their power by fighting back against their attackers.
The state or federal government usually has the ability to prosecute the sexual attacker in a criminal case, but for a variety of reasons, that doesn’t always happen. Even if it does, victims have civil remedies—and that is where our lawyers come in. Victims have the right to sue their attackers and other entities that contributed to or allowed the assault under several different laws. For example, our firm has fought for our clients using O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.1 (sexual assault), O.C.G.A. § 16 6-22.1 (sexual battery), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.1 (sexual contact between teacher and student), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-4 (child molestation), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5 (enticing a child), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-1 (rape), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 (statutory rape), O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1 (premises liability), and other laws.
Sexual Assault in Schools
When it comes to the abuse of power, it does not get much worse than a teacher who sexually assaults a student. Parents are required by law to send their children to school, where the children are under the control of teachers and other school administrators. Sexual assault upon a minor student by a teacher is inexcusable.
Tragically, it happens.
Our firm has represented students who were sexually abused by teaches or coaches at their schools. Sometimes, the sexual assaults were caught on cameras that had been installed in classrooms or gyms. Where an educator abuses his or her authority by taking advantage of a student, we hold that educator and the school system responsible.
Schools sometimes defend these cases by claiming that the student “consented” to the sexual contact. That is nonsense. In the first place, a person under the age of consent in Georgia cannot legally consent to sexual contact with an adult. In the second place, law prohibits teachers from having sexual contact with their students even if the students are over the age of consent. The so-called “consent” of student to a teacher’s sexual advances is no excuse.
Children are remarkable healers—skinned knees get better and bruises fade quickly. But the psychological effects of sexual assault can last for a long time. We can’t undo that wrong, but we can help to provide a financially stable future.
Sexual Assault in Churches and Religious Organizations
It is hard to imagine a betrayal of trust worse than when a religious leader takes advantage of a person he is supposed to help. We trust our pastors, preachers, priests, or rabbis to provide spiritual guidance. When a religious leader betrays that trust by sexually assaulting or abusing a person he is supposed to help, the consequences can be severe.
Sadly, these betrayals happen. In recent years, certain churches have been exposed for having hidden their sexual abuses from the public, as described in the documentary “Spotlight” and in other places. We have represented victims of such abuse. It is inexcusable.
Religious leaders who sexually assault or abuse their followers often justify their actions in fake, fraudulent ways. Sometimes they misuse the Bible or other religious authorities to falsely claim that what they are doing is right. They may tell their victims that the victims must stay silent for religious reasons. They may tell their victims that submitting quietly to sexual abuse will help the church or religious institution in the long run. Too often, religious or church leaders who sexually assault or sexually abuse one victim do the same thing to many, many others.
These religious leaders will face their own special kind of judgment when this life is over. Until then, the laws of Georgia have a role to play. Those laws protect victims. For instance, a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse may sue the religious leader and the religious organization for sexual battery (O.C.G.A. § 16-6-22.1), child molestation (O.C.G.A. § 16-6-4), statutory rape (O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3), enticing a child (O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5), or fraud (see generally City Dodge, Inc. v. Gardner, 232 Ga. 766, 769 n.1 (1974)).
You do not have to stay silent. We have been honored to represent victims of religious sexual assault who took a stand and, for the sake of other church members, put a stop to the religious leader’s abuse.
Sexual Assault in Apartments or Hotels
We all have the right to feel safe from sexual assault—especially if we’re paying an apartment or hotel to live or stay there. Owners or operators of land are responsible for keeping customers safe, as Georgia law recognizes in O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1.
If an apartment complex or hotel fails to do that, the consequences are serious. Often, the owner or operator of an apartment or hotel knows, from a series of prior crimes, whether the tenants and guests are at risk of sexual assault, rape, or other criminal activity. Even if the owner only recently acquired the property, it is very easy for owners or landlords to get a report of prior crimes—called a “crime grid”—from the local police department. That crime grid tells the story. Even free internet sites can tell landowners about the property. Owners know, or should know, what is going on with their property.
If the property is not safe—that is, if tenants and their guests are at risk of sexual assault or other crimes—the owner must do something about it. Responsible owners will, if necessary, install gates, build guard stations, install working security cameras, hire security personnel, and increase lighting. Responsible owners will also warn tenants and their guests about any danger of criminal activity.
Unfortunately, not all owners act responsibly. Some would rather put the rent money in their own pockets than protect their tenants and guests. When that happens—when an owner puts profits over safety—and someone gets assaulted or harmed as a result, that victim can file a lawsuit against the owner. Our lawyers have experience in winning these assault or attack cases in court.
Sexual Assault Lawyer
Sexual attackers are among the lowest of the low: they take something that can never be given back. But victims don’t have to remain silent. If you are ready to speak out, Butler Tobin is ready to help. We have women and men in the office available for an initial conversation.