Sexual Assault and Abuse
Experienced Sexual Assault and Abuse Lawyers Fighting for Victims
Sexual assault and abuse often happens to people who cannot protect themselves such as children, the elderly and the disabled. Perpetrators see them as easy targets because they are either too young, too old or too disabled, to fight back or report the crime. During their time as Assistant Prosecutors in Jackson County, Missouri, our partners, Jill Kanatzar and Lauren Dollar, came face to face with such perpetrators and used the criminal law to obtain justice. It was in this position Jill and Lauren found their callings to be the voice of victims.
Jill and Lauren carry this same passion and resolve to our firm in representing victims in civil cases. We work tirelessly to obtain justice for our clients and to ensure what has happened to our clients does not happen to others again.
It Is difficult to comprehend how often this happens to people who cannot help themselves such children, the elderly and the disabled. There is no solid understanding of how many of these people are sexually abused because the majority of these cases go unreported. When it Is reported, the perpetrator should be held criminally accountable. Dollar, Burns, Becker & Hershewe is here to hold those civilly responsible for allowing the abuse to occur and failing to protect our vulnerable.
Voice for Defenseless Victims
While representing the State of Missouri, Jill tried sexual assault and abuse cases including forcible rape and sodomy, statutory rape and sodomy and sexual assault. She has witnessed the strength survivors maintain and helped victims from an 89-year-old woman violently raped in her own home by an intruder to a 9-month-old child molested by a caregiver.
Two of Lauren’s cases in particular – a domestic assault trial with an 11-year-old witness and a child molestation sentencing – inspired her to be the voice of sexual abuse victims with our firm. After directing the 11-year-old witness to recount the abuse she witnessed her mother suffer in that one case, and then questioning the mother of two young girls who had been molested in another, Lauren knew she had to fight to protect those who cannot always protect themselves.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a perpetrator in an institution such as a church, day care provider, school, group home or nursing home, we want to help. No one should take advantage of vulnerable members of our community. No matter the situation.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault and abuse and would like to inquire about your legal rights, please give us a call.
Helping Navigate What’s Next
Incidents of sexual abuse go unreported because of the misplaced shame, intimidation and the feeling of hopelessness commonly experienced by victims. The physical and emotional distress left by these heinous crimes is something victims will confront for life.
Allowing the criminal justice system to protect others from this same harm should take priority. However, whether the perpetrator is a caregiver, clergy, nursing home staff or other resident, student or school employee, certain legal recourses may be available beyond criminal prosecution.
The criminal justice system cannot fully compensate the victim for the damage caused and the resources needed to help a victim heal. Both the perpetrator, and any entity which employed or supervised the perpetrator, may be held accountable in a civil legal action. Our team at Dollar, Burns, Becker & Hershewe has fought for and won millions of dollars in settlements for victims of sexual abuse.
A sexual abuse lawsuit not only provides financial compensation, but helps ensure that steps are taken nationwide to avoid similar conduct by other individuals placed in a position of trust.
Settlements and Verdicts
Lawyers against Sexual Abuse
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Sexual Abuse? Are There Different Categories?
The American Psychological Association’s definition of sexual abuse is “unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making treats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.”
Sexual abuse occurs to people of all ages, ethnicities and incomes. There are several types of sexual abuse including unwanted sexual touching, sexual contact with minors, incest, rape and sodomy, both forcible and statutory.
What are Signs of Sexual Abuse?
How people react following sexual abuse differs from person to person. However, there are several indications that may be noticeable.
Signs typical for children and adolescents:
- Nightmares or trouble sleeping
- Mood swings
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Poor self-image
- Refusal to take off clothing in front of others
- Knowledge that does not fit age, for instance, words for their private parts
Signs typical for the elderly:
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
- Any mention of sexual activity
- Fear of caregiver or fellow resident
What Percent of Victims Know their Attacker?
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 39 percent of reported attacks are by people the victim knew. Another 33 percent of attacks were by an intimate partner. Only 19 percent occurred by a stranger.
With the type of cases our firm handles, sexual assault and abuse in group homes, schools, churches, day-care or nursing home, the victim often knows their attacker. These victims, in particular, are preyed upon because they are either too young, too old or too disabled, to fight back or report the crime.
How does a civil case alleging sexual abuse differ from a criminal case?
Perpetrators of sexual abuse are prosecuted criminally by the state or federal government’s prosecutors. These cases impose a sentence on the defendant or perpetrators which may include time in jail. They also require the perpetrators to register as sex offenders that will eliminate their future ability to work in certain areas with children, the elderly or mentally disabled Individuals.
Civil cases are often brought against defendants other than the perpetrator alone. This includes those facilities or individuals who had the duty to protect someone from the harm of sexual abuse because of the special relationship as caregiver, school, or institution. Civil cases seek to recover monetary damages to make a person whole who has been damaged by sexual abuse.
Where Should I Report Sexual Abuse?
If you are a victim of sexual assault or abuse, you should immediately report this to your local law enforcement. Three out of four incidents are not reported. If you do not report the assault, the perpetrators cannot be brought to justice.
There are also several hotlines available such as:
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE
- Missouri Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-0210
- Kansas Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-877-662-8362
These hotlines can put you in touch with local organizations who specialize in assisting sexual abuse victims.
If you are a victim or know someone that has been a victim of sexual assault in a group home, school, church, day-care or nursing home, please give us a call – 816-276-2600.
What Can a Civil Attorney Do to Help Me?
An experienced sexual assault and abuse lawyer can help you and your loved one understand your legal rights. We will help you navigate the criminal justice system and bring your abusers to justice both civilly and criminally.
Whether the perpetrator is a caregiver, clergy, nursing home staff or other resident, student or school employee, certain legal recourses may be available beyond criminal prosecution.Both the perpetrator, and any entity which employed or supervised the perpetrator, may be held accountable in a civil legal action. Our team at Dollar, Burns & Becker has fought for and won millions of dollars in settlements for victims of sexual abuse.
Here are several useful resources if you or someone you love is experiencing sexual assault and abuse:
- National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline –1-800-656-4673 or chat online
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline – 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453), Call toll free
- MOSCA – for Kansas and Missouri residents