Sexual Abuse Attorney

Kennewick, Yakima, Auburn, Tacoma and Seattle Area

Ritchie Reiersen Law – Personal Injury Attorneys in Washington

The personal injury attorneys at Ritchie Reiersen Law understand the harm that sexual abuse victims endure. Statistics suggest that nearly 90 percent of sexual abuse victims know, love, and trust their abuser. To have such love and trust violated leaves devastating emotional scars that can affect a victim through their entire life.

While all incidents of abuse are tragic, it is especially devastating to have a child experience sexual abuse from an authority figure at a school, church, or other organization’s function.

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What kind of restitution can victims seek in these unfortunate situations? Because all cases are different, we recommend victims contact a personal injury attorney who has experience handling cases of sexual abuse by an authority figure. Generally speaking, it is important to give the victim a voice to speak out about their abuse.

Additionally, it is imperative that the offender be reported to the appropriate legal authorities. With the help of a confident and compassionate personal injury attorney, victims of sexual abuse can become advocates for their rights and the rights of others facing similar situations.

What is a Sex Abuse Victim Entitled to Recover?

Victims of sexual abuse are entitled to compensation for the injuries they have sustained. This compensation may be paid out of a federally-funded Crime Victims fund, although those funds are used as a last resort and are limited. If the victim wishes to pursue a civil case against the offender and the organization they represented at the time of the abuse, they may seek compensation for economic as well as non-economic damages – including pain and suffering, mental health treatment, etc. This also can include punitive damages.

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Ritchie Reiersen Law helps victims pursue compensation for the injuries and damages they experienced. We handle cases of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment that occur in church, employment, school, athletic, and organized social settings.

Call us today at (888) 884-7337 to find out how we can help you. 

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What To Do If You Have Been Sexually Abused

If you or a loved one is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse that happened at a church, summer camp, youth recreation program, school, religious organization, or other insitutuion, call Ritchie Reiersen Law today. Our compassionate personal injury attorneys may be able to help you recover compensation for the physical and psychological pain and anguish the abuse caused. 

With offices in Kennewick, Yakima, Auburn, Tacoma, and Portland, we have local personal injury attorneys who can help you. Sexual abuse by an authority figure is devastating to experience. Allow our sensitive attorneys help you access the help you need and feel empowered to face the future with confidence.  Call us today at (888) 884-7337. Our consultation is always free and confidential. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What can a personal injury attorney from Ritchie Reiersen Law do to help my family after someone I love was sexually assaulted by an authority figure?

At Ritchie Reiersen Law, we feel very strongly that anyone who has been harmed through sexual abuse by someone in an authority position should be given all the help they need to move forward into a happy and healthy life. We will ensure the proper authorities know about and investigate the abuse. We will work hard to help your loved one receive the compensation they deserve, as sexual abuse can affect a victim psychologically throughout their lifetime. Not only that, we will make sure your loved one receives the honor and respect they deserve for being brave enough to report the abuse. No one should ever have to face life after institutional sexual abuse alone – we are here to support you through the process.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual, verbal, physical, or visual act that forces someone to have sexual contact against their will. Sexual assault is often motivated by the need of the perpetrator to control, humiliate, or harm the victim. Sexual assault can include, but is not limited to, unwanted touching, forcing someone to pose for pictures, petting, molestation, incest, and rape.

What is institutional sexual abuse?

Institutional sexual abuse is abuse that happened when the victim is under the care and supervision of a public or private entity, such as a school or church. Institutions have a legal duty to keep those who are in their care safe from sexual abuse. Institutional abuse is more likely to happen to minors, disabled individuals, or seniors.

What is different about sexual abuse by an authority figure?

Any kind of sexual abuse or assault is horriffic and illegal. Sexual assault by an authority figure includes abuse that happens by a coach, teacher, youth leader, church leader, camp leader, or other person who has authority over the victim. Often the perpetrator uses their position in authority to groom their victims, earning their trust prior to abusing them. The abuse often is accompanied by threats that keep the victim from reporting the abuse. While abuse by an authority often happens to youth, anyone can be a victim.

It is important to recognize, report, and punish not only the abuser, but also hold the organization they are a part of, and in which the relationship was established, accountable for the abuse. It is legally and morally required that organizations that cater to children take care to properly screen as well as train anyone who will work with the youth, in order to save the children from the pain that comes with abuse.

Where is institutional sexual abuse most likely to occur?
  • Foster care
  • Youth organizations (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA)
  • Schools
  • Sports teams
  • Churches or other religious organizations
  • Mental health facilities
  • Daycare, respite care, or elder care centers
What should I do if I am or was a victim of sexual assault or abuse?
At Ritchie Reiersen Law, we know how important it is to work through the emotional effects of abuse with people who are trained to support you in that. We suggest you reach out to the following organizations for some initial help and support. If you have questions regarding your legal options, contact us – we would love to offer you a free consultation.

RAINN: Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network
Website: www.rainn.org
Phone: 1-800-656-HOPE

National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)
Website: www.nsvrc.org
Phone: 1-877-739-3895

Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
Website: www.wcsap.org
Phone: 360-754-7583

What is the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims?
The Washington legislature increased the time that a victim has the right to come forward and file a claim against their abuser. Legal action by the victim of childhood sexual abuse is to be taken within three years from the time the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought. The legislature recognizes that childhood sexual abuse can cause lifelong effects – some of which may not be recognized for years. Essentially this means that there is no definable time limit to when a sexual abuse case can be filed.

In Oregon, the statute of limitations regarding childhood sexual abuse is more defined. Legal action is able to take place until the victim turns 40 or 5 years after the victim knew or should have known of the causal connection between the injury and the childhood abuse, whichever is later. This law also leans in favor of victims and recognizes the fact that childhood abuse can affect a person for a lifetime and there is not always a defined point in time that a person “should” recognize the injury they are experiencing from the abuse.

What are the signs or long-term effects of sexual abuse or assault?

There isn’t necessarily a specific pattern that sexual abuse or assault takes, and the effects of it can be different for each person. Some may respond immediately to the traumatic situation, while others can take months or even years to react. The effects of sexual abuse can be experienced through mental, emotional, and physical issues. Some victims may be able to come to terms with their abuse and move on in a short amount of time; others may experience problems stemming from the abuse for their entire life.
Victims of sexual abuse or assault often have a sudden change in their mood or temperament and behaviors. The following behavior changes could be signs of having experienced sexual abuse or assault:

  • Fear, particularly in situations that remind them of the abuse
  • Overall sense of anxiety
  • Flashbacks
  • Guilt
  • Inability to focus and concentrate
  • Anger
  • Negative self-image
  • Depression
  • Disruption in relationships
  • Loss of interest in sex

Sexual abuse or assault in teenagers sometimes comes with different behaviors being displayed. The following could be signs of teenage sexual abuse or assault:

  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Self-harm behaviors
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Compulsive behavior regarding food (excessive eating or dieting)

Each of these above-mentioned behaviors can change the life of a victim who is trying to deal with the ramifications of the abuse they received. Open communication and accepting and supportive relationships will help the victim of abuse work through it at their own pace.

How does a civil lawsuit differ from a criminal case?

A criminal case seeks to punish the abuser for laws that they violated. Alternatively, a civil lawsuit seeks to hold the perpetrator accountable for the actions they committed against the victim. This is done by providing compensation to the victim for the emotional and physical injuries that were caused by the abuse.

An abuser does not have to be convicted in a criminal case in order to bring a civil suit against them. A civil lawsuit has a lower burden of proof requirement and therefore the abuser could be found liable for damages in a civil case but not found guilty in a criminal case.

If I file a sexual abuse claim, will my name and the details of the case be public?

Knowing sexual abuse cases can be emotionally difficult to go through, and understanding how important it is to be able to hold offenders accountable for their actions, courts often allow victims of sexual abuse to file the civil suit using a pseudonym (Jane Doe, John Doe) to protect their privacy.

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    Figuring out the best course of action after experiencing abuse from an authority figure can be overwhelming. Without taking the correct steps to protect your rights, you could miss out on a significant sum of money. Our attorneys will go the extra mile to secure the maximum compensation you deserve. To discuss the specifics of your case during a free consultation, get in touch with our office.