Although once considered to be rare, recent high-profile cases involving sexual misconduct by doctors whose victims were their patients are becoming more common in both the national and local news media.
In today's blog post, the sexual assault/sexual battery lawyer at the Doan Law Firm presents a review of the known facts in lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct by a doctor at the University of Southern California's Student Health Center. He will then discuss the legal options that may be available to the victims of sexual assault/sexual battery by doctors and other health care providers.
The case of sexual abuse
On May 18th of this year, the Los Angeles Times published an investigative news story under a headline that read "A USC doctor was accused of bad behavior with young women for years. The university let him continue treating students". This story alleged that the University of Southern California had been aware of numerous complaints filed against Dr. George Tyndall, who was the only board-certified gynecologist at USC's student health services clinic, some of which had been made as early as the mid-1990s.
Following the story's publication, USC announced that it had established a "hotline" for victims of Dr. Tyndall's abuse. In the first week after its publication, that phone number had documented over 300 unique claims of abuse by Dr. Tyndall.
The law surrounding sexual abuse by doctors
According to the California Penal Code, Section 243.4, sexual assault/sexual battery occurs when an assailant commits the unwanted touching of another person's "intimate parts", where "intimate parts" are defined as the victim's "… sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female."
Under California law, victims of sexual abuse have two options if they seek to hold their abusers accountable. Their first option is to cooperate with their county's District Attorney and agree to testify in the abuser's criminal trial. However, even with California's liberal Statutes of Limitations rules governing "time limits" in sexual abuse cases, many of the earliest incidents alleging abuse by Dr. Tyndall cannot be prosecuted simply because the Statutes of Limitations have "run out" or "expired." Furthermore, a criminal conviction does not allow the victim to seek the payment of damages by a convicted abuser to the victim of his or her abuse.
The second option available to sexual abuse victims is to file a civil lawsuit against the alleged abuser and/or the abuser's employer if that employer knew, or should have known, about the abuser's patterns of behavior. According to follow-up articles to the original story, this second option has been exercised by at least 20 of Dr. Tyndall's former patients.
The role of a sexual assault/sexual battery lawyer
It is a fundamental principle of law that anyone who suffers an injury that was caused by the deliberate actions of another, or through a non-deliberate act of negligence by some individual or a business, has the legal right to file a lawsuit asking a court to order the negligent party to pay damages to the party that has suffered some loss that was a direct consequence of the negligent party's action or inaction. These rights are usually restricted, sometimes severely, when a state agency is named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
From the information presented in previous sections of this article, it should be obvious that winning a sexual assault/sexual battery lawsuit will require that you retain the services of a law firm with experience in areas such as:
- How your state criminal code defines sexual assault/sexual battery;
- The types of evidence that may be submitted in both criminal prosecutions and in civil lawsuits;
- Your state's Statutes of Limitations in both criminal prosecutions and in civil lawsuits, and
- Whether or not your state places a "cap" or "upper limit" on the types and amounts of damages that you may be awarded in a civil lawsuit.
One such sexual assault/sexual battery lawyer can be contacted at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide law firm that represents the victims of sexual assault/sexual battery in civil lawsuits against their abusers.
When you contact our sexual assault/sexual battery lawyer to arrange a free case evaluation of your potential sexual assault/sexual battery lawsuit, your case evaluation is always free of any charges to you and does not obligate you to hiring our firm as your legal representative in your potential lawsuit against your abuser. Should you decide to ask us to represent you in your lawsuit, we are willing to assume all responsibility for preparing your case for trial in exchange for a previously-negotiated percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.