Georgia Sexual Assault & Abuse Lawyers
Sexual abuse or assault is traumatic and devastating for survivors and their families. When it happens by someone you’re supposed to be able to trust or someone in authority such as a doctor, teacher, or caregiver, the emotional trauma can last a lifetime.
Our sexual abuse attorneys understand the severity of sexual assault and can help you navigate the legal system to hold your attacker and others responsible accountable. We will not charge you for a consultation and every sexual assault case is handled with sensitivity and discretion. We have offices in Athens, Atlanta, and Lake Oconee, and take cases throughout Georgia.
Types of Sexual Violence
- Sexual Assault
Any type of unwanted sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the recipient. Unwanted sexual advances can include molestation, rape, attempted rape, fondling, oral penetration, or any type of forcible sexual contact.
The penetration, no matter how slight, with any body part or object, including oral penetration, without consent.
- Sexual Coercion
Sexual coercion is when someone makes you feel obligated to say yes to a sexual activity by pressuring you using guilt, drugs, alcohol, bribery, or force. Sexual coercion can manifest in multiple ways, including persistent attempts to have sex (or various sex acts) with someone after they’ve already refused.
- Statutory Rape
Georgia defines statutory rape as sexual intercourse with someone who is under the age of 16-years-old. No force is required to be in violation of the law because the State’s legal age of consent is 16.
- Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault
A sexual assault that’s carried out on a person who is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.
- Sexual Harassment
Bullying or coercion of a sexual nature and unwanted or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.
Unwanted and often repeated surveillance by someone (or a group of people) towards another person.
Sexual activity between family members, close relatives, or adopted family members.
- Human Trafficking
The trade or sale of humans for forced labor or sexual slavery/commercial sexual exploitation.
What is the Definition of Consent?
In Georgia, consent is permission from a person who can give such permission. A child under the age of 16-years-old cannot legally give consent.
A person commits the offense of statutory rape when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years and is not his or her spouse, provided that no conviction shall be had for this offense on the unsupported testimony of the victim. Georgia Code § 16-6-3.
A survivor who has a developmental disability or lacks the mental capacity to make ordinary judgments on his or her own is unable to give consent to sexual acts. Drake v. State, 239 Ga. 232 (1977); Baise v. The State, 502 S.E.2d 492, 232 Ga. App. 556 (1998).
Someone whose will is temporarily lost due to unconsciousness arising from drug use, alcohol, sleep, or another cause is also unable to consent to sexual activity.
The relationship between the survivor and attacker also impacts the survivor’s ability to give consent. If a person has supervisory or disciplinary authority over another individual, they commit sexual assault when they are the following person to the survivor:
- A school teacher
- A coach
- A principal
- An assistant principal
- A school administrator
- A probation officer
- A parole officer
- A law enforcement agent where the survivor is contained at that law agency
- A doctor
- An employee of the hospital or staff where the survivor is a patient
- A counselor
- A practitioner of psychotherapy
- A nurse, administrator, or staff at a nursing home or long-term care facility
- A caregiver
Physicians, nurses, therapists, and other medical professionals are required to abide by the Hippocratic Oath, which obligates them to a standard of ethics. A boundary can be defined as the edge of appropriate professional behavior. When a doctor, nurse, or therapist violates their clinical role with a patient, it can be harmful. There are both sexual and non-sexual boundaries within a physician/patient relationship. There are also professional boundaries in place such as student/teacher boundaries, coach/ student boundaries, administrator/student boundaries, religious leader boundaries, etc.
ACC SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) offers help and hope for survivors of sexual assault. The non-profit 501 (c) 3 agency provides both forensic and medical services at no cost to survivors and their families. Even if you don’t want to report the assault to police right away, it’s still important to have a medical exam to make sure you are all right.
Forms of Sexual Violence
While everyone is potentially at risk for experiencing sexual violence or abuse at some point in their life, there are people who may be more vulnerable based on life circumstances.
- Child Sexual Abuse
- Elder Sexual Abuse
- Sexual Abuse by a Medical Professional
- Sexual Abuse of a Person with a Disability
- Prisoner Abuse
- Military Abuse
- Sexual Abuse by a Teacher or Coach
- Sexual Abuse by a Religious Leader
Premises Liability in Sexual Assault Cases
Business owners are required by law to protect patrons. This includes preventing foreseeable sexual assaults at hotels, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, concert venues, apartment complexes, parking garages, schools, rehab facilities, treatment centers, hospitals and other facilities. It’s important to determine why the criminal was able to attack in the first place. Property owners are required to take proper precautions to prevent such attacks like including adequate lighting, fences, or performing appropriate background checks. Hospitals and other medical facilities or long-term care facilities are held to a certain standard of care for patients.
It’s crucial that anyone’s negligence that may have led to your assault, that person or persons be held accountable to prevent future assaults. A business owner or manager must prove that the business, facility or organization has exercised reasonable care and implemented proper management procedures to successfully defend against a premises liability claim. Many times, this isn’t the case and criminal activity could have been stopped if it weren’t for negligence.
What Are the Effects of Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence in any form can have emotional, psychological, and physical effects on a survivor. Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder can make it difficult for a survivor to adjust in every-day circumstances. It’s normal for survivors to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and fear following a traumatic experience such as sexual violence or abuse. Flashbacks, intentionally or subconsciously changing your routine or behavior, difficulty sleeping, being startled easily, being prone to bouts of crying, or losing interest in activities you formerly found joy in is also common.
Other effects of sexual assault may include:
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Broken bones
- Involuntary shaking
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Feelings of helplessness
- Feelings of vulnerability
- Self-blame or guilt
- Substance Abuse
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Sexual dysfunction
- Eating disorders
- Attempted Suicide
Some important things to keep in mind:
- Georgia law requires business owners to take reasonable measures to protect people on their property
- Property owners must provide adequate security for customers or tenants
- Businesses that are aware of a previous crime that occurred on the property should take extra precautions
- Hospitals, facilities and schools have a responsibility to protect patients and students
- Organizations should always run background checks prior to hiring staff
- Apartment complexes and other businesses should provide adequate outdoor lighting
- If a crime occurs, all residents or patients should be notified of the crime
Your Rights Under the Criminal Justice System
Below is Georgia’s Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights.
- The right to be treated fairly and with dignity
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay
- The right to reasonable, accurate and timely notice of:
- An arrest warrant issued for the accused
- The accused’s arrest
- The condition that the accused is prohibited from contacting the victim
- The accused’s release or escape from custody
- Any court proceeding where the release of the accused is considered
- Any scheduled court proceeding changes
- The accused’s release
- The right to be present at all criminal proceedings in which the accused has the right to be present
- To not be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings except as provided in O.C.G.A. 17-17-1 or otherwise provided by law
- The right to a waiting area during proceedings that’s separate from the accused and his/her friends or family
- To be reasonably heard at any court proceedings involving the release, plea or sentencing of the accused
- The right to waive notifications
- To be notified of community-based victim service programs
- To complete a Victim Impact Statement and have it presented to the court prior to trial
- To restitution as provided by law
- To refuse to submit an interview by the accused, accused’s attorney or agent
- To a requirement by court that defense counsel not disclose victim information to the accused
- To be notified by the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities if the accused is committed for an evaluation, is mentally incompetent to stand trial or is evaluated as not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime — at least 10 days before the release or discharge of the accused
- To request not to be contacted by an inmate who was convicted of a criminal offense against them
- To be advised on how to file a complaint with the Judicial Qualifying Commission if a judge denies the victim’s right to be heard
- The right to designate a spouse, adult child, parent, sibling, or grandparent to act on behalf of him or her, when the victim is physically unable
- The right to be notified of availability of compensation through the federal government when the victim has been trafficked for labor or sexual servitude
View a PDF of Victim’s Bill of Rights here.
You Have the Right to Hold the At-Fault People Responsible
If you were assaulted due to a lack of security or an exploitive relationship, you may be entitled to compensation.
Examples of Negligent Security:
- Poor lighting
- Lack of notification from a business or organization about prior attacks
- No video equipment
- No security guards
- No security fencing
- Improper training
- No background checks
- Overgrown vegetation
- Lack of action from management or authority when there’s suspected abuse
Examples of an Exploitive Relationship:
- Religious leader
- Camp counselor
You May be Entitled to Compensation for your Losses:
- Pain & Suffering
- Lost Wages
- Hospital Bills
- Doctor visits
- Other Treatment
We can help you navigate the legal system and hold those responsible for your attack accountable. Initial consultations are free and confidential. Every case is handled with sensitivity and discretion.
Get Help from Our Georgia Sexual Abuse Lawyers Today
At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., our sexual abuse attorneys are strong advocates for our clients. We have the skills and experience needed to hold negligent businesses, organizations, or landowners responsible. If you or your loved one suffered a sexual assault due to someone else’s negligence, we can help.
To schedule a free, fully private consultation, contact our law firm at (706) 354-4000 or fill out the case review form. Headquartered in Athens, we handle sexual assault and abuse cases across Georgia. There is no fee unless we resolve your claims.
If you’re a survivor of sexual assault, below is a list of organizations that can help you:
ACC SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners)
Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
UGA Women’s Resources
Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at: 1-800-656-HOPE