Michigan Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Attorney
Sommers Schwartz, P.C., is one of Michigan’s leading sexual abuse and sexual assault law firms, with an accomplished team of attorneys equipped to handle cases involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. Beyond our success in the courtroom, we are committed to aggressively and compassionately obtaining justice for any sexual offense survivor.
Sexual Offenses Are Serious
Few crimes are as invasive and violative as sexual offenses, and the pain they inflict goes far beyond just physical injury.
If you or a loved one have been harmed by sexual assault or sexual abuse, you have the right to sue the perpetrator for damages, even if they have not been charged with or convicted of the crime. You could potentially recover compensatory and punitive damages in a civil suit against the person who hurt you and any institution that allowed it or was complicit.
You could possibly obtain compensation for:
• Medical bills
• Pain and suffering
• Loss of wages or earning potential
• Emotional trauma
• Post-traumatic stress
• Anxiety or depression
Survivors have many reasons for not pursuing criminal charges against their perpetrators:
• Embarrassment and shame surrounding the incident
• Denial of what happened or minimizing the severity of the crime
• Fear of retribution through physical, financial, and emotional harm
• Concern that law enforcement will not take an accusation seriously or handle it appropriately
Any of these thoughts can keep survivors of sexual offenses from speaking out.
A civil lawsuit, however, provides survivors a path to justice while allowing them to remain in control of the way their claims are handled. At Sommers Schwartz, you will have a top Michigan sexual assault attorney at your side every step of the way.
Sexual Offenses Come in Many Forms
Many actions constitute a sexual offense. Some involve a single incident, while others occur over time. They are both grievous and worthy of damages, and they could be the basis of a lawsuit.
Sexual assault is generally defined as sexual contact that occurs without consent. Assault and abuse can encompass the same acts, but specific examples of assault are:
• Attempted rape
• Forced sodomy
• Forced oral sex
• Forced intercourse
Sexual abuse is a blanket term for many actions, but all are unwanted and sexual in nature. Examples include:
• Fondling, grabbing, or groping
• Revealing one’s genitals
• Sexual advances
• Exposing someone to pornography, sexual images, language, or other materials
• Performing sexual acts in front of someone
• Requesting or forcing someone to take explicit pictures of themselves
Sexual abuse usually includes some degree of coercion or inappropriate abuse of power. For example, sexual contact of any kind between a child and an adult is abusive because children inherently trust the authority of adults. A student or employee may feel pressured to engage in sexually abusive acts with a teacher or supervisor because that person is in a position of authority over them. The imbalance of these power dynamics make claims of sexual abuse particularly vile.
Doctor Sexual Assaults or Abuse
Unwanted touching by a physician or other medical professional is a form of sexual abuse and medical malpractice. Recent high-profile cases involving USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar and the University of Southern California gynecologist George Tyndall have brought to light the sexual abuse in doctor’s offices across the country.
Nassar, accused of abusing over 500 girls and women under the guise of medical treatment, is now serving what amounts to a life sentence in prison. Tyndall has been arrested and charged with committing more than two dozen felonies that carry potential prison terms of up to 53 years. The charges concern allegations by 16 women, but nearly 400 women have accused Tyndall of sexual abuse over 27 years.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzed public records from every state and identified over 3,000 doctors accused of sexual misconduct. They found that many violations never came to the attention of state regulators.
The sexual abuse attorneys at Sommers Schwartz will hold the physicians or medical professionals accountable when they violate the trust patients place in them.
Clergy Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other religious leaders in the United States and elsewhere have been reported for decades. Besides child abuse, there have also been revelations of widespread clergy sexual abuse of vulnerable adults. These acts are especially sinister because the perpetrators hold positions of trust over those who may have less emotional strength and spiritual power. For survivors of clergy abuse, the often life-long physical, mental, and emotional trauma compromises their faith.
More than 18,000 survivors have come forward with stories of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Attorneys General in Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and several other states have opened investigations into clergy abuse and cover-ups by the Catholic Church.
In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel is comprehensively investigating Catholic clergy sexual abuse in the state. The investigation has resulted in two convictions, and nearly a dozen people have been charged. Nessel’s investigation has identified 270 priests accused of abusing 552 victims.
The Sommers Schwartz team helps those sexually abused by their trusted clergyman seek justice. We take every measure to protect the privacy of these survivors while holding the church and priests accountable. It is also imperative systems are developed to ensure that this widespread abuse does not happen again.
Boy Scout Sexual Abuse
If a Scoutmaster or Scout leader sexually abused you or someone you loved, the Sommers Schwartz sexual abuse team is here to help you obtain justice and healing.
Since the early 1900s, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have maintained internal filings of scout leaders, Scoutmasters, and other volunteers accused of misconduct, including sexual assaults and abuse on member scouts. These files are called the Ineligible Volunteer Files, and they include Perversion Files that illustrate the knowledge the BSA has accumulated.
In 2012 and 2013, the Perversion Files from 1965 to 2008 were made public, and more than 1,500 individual Ineligible Volunteer files were produced. Nearly 100 Michigan Scout leaders, Scoutmasters, and BSA volunteers were identified, going back as far as the 1950s. The Boy Scouts of America knew sexual abuse was occurring within the troops, yet allowed it to continue for decades.
If you or a loved one was abused by a Scout leader, Scoutmaster, or other boy scout volunteer, you do not have to suffer in silence. As experienced sexual abuse attorneys, we are dedicated to exposing predators in the Boy Scouts of America and other institutions, both in Michigan and across the country.
Sexual Abuse by Coaches
Coaches play important and influential roles in the lives of children and young adults. Like doctors and priests, coaches exert power and control in our lives. Athletes spend their early years taking direction from coaches without question. They are taught that they need to conform and not to disrupt the team that has become their second family. This power dynamic makes young athletes vulnerable to grooming techniques often employed by abusers to create trust and secrecy.
In just the last decade, we have seen several instances of coaching abuse at all ages and levels of sport. For example, the Penn State child sex abuse scandal resulted in the 2012 conviction of Jerry Sandusky, an assistant coach for the Penn State football team. Sandusky was indicted on 52 counts of child molestation, which resulted in a minimum 30-year sentence. The first alleged instance of his misconduct was in 1998.
More recently, brave athletes stepped forward to reveal sexual abuse by Larry Nassar at Michigan State University and Richard Strauss at Ohio State University. Nassar has been accused of sexually assaulting several hundred gymnasts and other female athletes as far back as 1992. Strauss, employed by Ohio State University’s Athletics Department, has been accused of abusing at least 177 male student-patients, including numerous male wrestlers.
Sadly, the pattern has shown that, all too often, it takes multiple complaints and multiple acts of misconduct before charges are brought against sexual predators. With the #MeToo movement, we hope this will change.
The attorneys at Sommers Schwartz have experience holding sexually abusive coaches and their employers accountable for their wrongdoing. Please contact us so we can obtain justice for you.
Rideshare Sexual Abuse
Using an Uber or Lyft has become an easy and convenient way to get around, but with the growth of these companies has come unfortunate incidents of sexual assault. In December 2019, Uber released a report showing it had received nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault from both riders and drivers in 2017 and 2018. Overall, passengers accounted for 45 percent of the accused parties. Women and female-identifying individuals comprised 89 percent of the victims.
Sexual abuse by an Uber or Lyft driver or a fellow passenger can cause a person serious physical and emotional harm. As a passenger, you have the right to expect you will not be the victim of sexual assault, rape, molestation, or harassment during your ride.
Rape and sexual assault survivors have sued Uber and Lyft, claiming that the companies knew or should have known of drivers’ histories, or that they adequately check drivers’ backgrounds.
Our rideshare sexual assault attorneys have experience holding large companies like Uber and Lyft accountable. Sommers and Schwartz has decades of experience negotiating substantial settlements for our clients. Contact our attorneys today – we will help you obtain the justice you deserve and protect your identity if you wish.
Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking
U.S. law defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person into commercial sex acts, labor, or services against his or her will. The one exception involves minors and commercial sex. Inducing a minor into commercial sex is considered human trafficking regardless of the presence of force, fraud, or coercion.
Lawsuits have been filed across the country against hotels and motels alleged to have turned a blind eye while men, women, and children are trafficked under their roofs. Hotels and motel brands named in these lawsuits include:
• Red Roof Inn
• Choice Hotels
• La Quinta
• Microtel Inn and Suites
• Inter-Continental Hotel
• Holiday Inn
• Best Western
• Econo Lodge
• Days Inn
• Motel 9
• Economy Inn
• Extended Stay America
• Red Lion Hotel
Support and Compensation for Survivors Is Available
It is extremely difficult for survivors of sexual assault and abuse to come forward. Attorneys at Sommers Schwartz, understand this and strive to protect the identity and privacy of survivors of sexual offenses and to be tenacious advocates on their behalf. If safety or privacy is a concern for you and your loved ones, it is possible to remain anonymous throughout the process and protect your identity.
The devastation caused by sexual assaults and abuse cannot be overstated. At Sommers Schwartz, we recognize this, and will do anything possible to support survivors as they do the difficult work of recounting their stories and potentially facing the person and institutions who hurt them. This is part of the continued victimization survivors face long after the initial assault or abuse occurs.
For some, pursuing compensation and punitive damages may be the most effective way to hold their perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Why Choose a Sommers Schwartz Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
The attorneys at Sommers Schwartz stand with survivors of sexual abuse and assault. We are not afraid to fight for what is right and will confront even the most prominent institutions and individuals if they are somehow responsible for or complicit in sexual offenses.
We promise to use the depth of our experience and tireless commitment to secure the compensation and resources that can help you move forward. Our team is accomplished, sensitive, caring, and ready to take down those who have committed these terrible crimes against you or your loved one.
Sommers Schwartz senior shareholder Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller is one of our sexual assault and abuse attorneys. Contact her to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case in complete confidence and to learn more about the services we provide and how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation. The phone call to 866-335-9517 is free, and because we work on a contingent-fee basis, you will not receive a bill for our representation unless we win your case.