The legal 'ins and outs' of sexual assault allegations

The legal 'ins and outs' of sexual assault allegations

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Allegations of sexual assault seem to be a daily headline, but despite all these accusations, few cases have been inside a courtroom.

Legally it's a complex topic, ranging from case to case, but what can be done about the sexual misconduct, assault or harassment?

Local attorneys said legally, victims can file a criminal or civil case or even both, but there are several factors to consider beforehand.

"That's the first thing you have to look at the age of the victim, the age of the defendant, the place that this happened, the state that it happened in," explained attorney Jerome Phillips. "What are the laws of that state regarding either civil or criminal liability for that unwanted touching."

One major factor in sexual assault cases is the statute of limitation. Phillips said the length of time varies depending on the charge, age of the victim and the type of case. He believes the reason to have a statute of limitations though is to bring finality to actions. He said the length of time to report is longer for criminal cases, than it is for civil cases and more criminal cases are filed than civil.

Several of the victims speaking out now about their sexual harassment do fall outside the statute of limitations meaning they can't file charges, but still they share their story.

"You may not be able to get into a courtroom," said Phillips. "You may not be able to file criminal or civil charges, but you may be able to stop the activity or at least embarrass the person sufficiently that the activity will cease."

Legally, whether you are the accuser or the accused, Phillips suggests you follow the same protocol after an incident.

"Record it, someway make a history of it, make notes about it, gather information," said Jerome Phillips, an attorney. "Who's available to testify on your behalf and report it. It's as simple as that, record it and report it. "

Obviously every claim is different and those wanting to pursue legal action should contact a trusted legal advisor.

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