Oct 6, 2020
For over 20 years the Sexual Assault Justice Experts (SAJE) Team at Dordulian Law Group has helped countless rape survivors prevail in successful civil lawsuits. As the leading sexual assault firm in Los Angeles and throughout California, we’ve handled virtually every type of rape case imaginable, including date rape, statutory rape, spousal rape, group rape, campus or student rape, and much more. As you might expect, the cases are never easy. Although survivors feel emboldened by confronting their attackers and pursuing a claim, reliving the incident can be a harrowing experience.
Today, with a significant number of intimate relationships being formed over the internet, a new trend in rape cases is emerging. A young woman being sexually assaulted by an older, often wealthy and powerful man is a common scenario. But the frequency of these types of cases is increasing, as are the inherent complexities when pursuing a legal claim. The rise in online dating combined with hookup culture and “sugar daddy” websites is said to be impacting societal and sexual norms. Nevertheless, one common denominator still exists that applies to every sexual relationship: consent is mandatory.
A common question we hear from potential new clients is: “if I was raped by an ex-boyfriend/former partner, can I file a lawsuit?”
Such a question is truly unfortunate, as it indicates a number of survivors actually question whether or not they have a right to legal recourse after being raped. If you are ever sexually assaulted, you absolutely have a right to file a civil lawsuit and pursue financial damages. The facts pertaining to your specific case can certainly affect the degree of difficulty involved in proving a claim, but rape is never legal, and you always have rights under the law.
DLG recently prevailed in a complex rape case that will hopefully help demonstrate that critical point, and perhaps put to rest the notion that rape is ever, under any circumstances, permissible. Let’s take a look at the facts of the case, which ultimately led to a multimillion-dollar settlement for our rape survivor client.
Proving a rape case in civil court is a slightly different process than doing so in criminal court. For a criminal case to prevail, charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a jury trial, all 12 jurors must vote to convict. In a civil proceeding, however, the burden of proof is not as high.
In a civil rape case, instead of proving that the defendant committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it must be proven that the act was “more than likely” committed. By removing the threshold of reasonable doubt, the burden of proof is in fact reduced. Additionally, in civil jury trials only 9 of the 12 jurors must vote to convict. That said, rape civil cases are still incredibly challenging to prove.
Without any context, a woman being drugged and raped is a despicable act and a clear-cut guilty verdict.
However, the burden of proof is clearly challenging when the case involves details such as:
If the overall question of whether or not one has legal recourse if raped by a former intimate partner commonly exists, it’s not surprising that survivors have additional – though equally unfortunate and unfounded – questions requiring clarification from a DLG sexual assault lawyer.
In this case, our client reached out to DLG after rightfully being encouraged to do so by friends. Thankfully, her friends were able to convince her that she should pursue a claim against the rapist. However, whether due to societal expectations or changing cultural norms, she had a number of concerns:
Whenever a rape occurs and the plaintiff and defendant had a previous history of consensual sexual relations, an additional layer of difficulty exists when proving the case. Nevertheless, as stated previously, rape is never permissible under any circumstances.
Therefore, the answers to the above questions are as follows:
Sex always requires consent, and the simple fact that this sexual act occurred when the plaintiff was drugged and unconscious – regardless of all the other circumstances related to the complicated relationship – means that it qualifies as rape, and is therefore a crime.
“It’s astounding, but many survivors come to us with the notion that a previous relationship or intimate encounter somehow nullifies an instance of rape. Even if you met on a supposed “sugar daddy” website and had a relationship based on a financial arrangement, that arrangement can never include nonconsensual sex,” said Samuel Dordulian, DLG’s founder and the lead counsel on this case.
“We had to ensure that the focus remained on this single occurrence of rape. That’s all that mattered,” he said.
In the end, despite the many difficult layers of this case, Dordulian Law Group was able to secure a multimillion-dollar settlement just three months after the survivor came to us with the complaint. It’s an excellent case study demonstrating that rape is always intolerable, but also that survivors can secure swift justice in difficult claims by choosing DLG and our Sexual Assault Justice Experts (SAJE) Team.
“It’s hard to believe that, after questioning and hesitating for so long, this could all be resolved in just three short months. Really, my only regret is not contacting you sooner.” -DLG’s rape survivor client in this case
Had our client not taken that first step and contacted DLG, she would still be incorrectly assuming that she didn’t have a valid claim despite being raped while unconscious by an ex-partner. Three months after making the call, our client has secured a multimillion-dollar damages settlement, and is able to move forward with her life following such a difficult ordeal.
If you are a survivor of rape or sexual assault, contact DLG today to begin the process of pursuing justice against your perpetrator and recovering the financial damages you deserve. Regardless of the circumstances – whether you met online, dated, had a sugar daddy/sugar baby arrangement, or previously engaged in consensual sex – rape or any other type of sexual assault is never permissible, and you have legal recourse.
We are here to help you in any way we can. At Dordulian Law Group, we provide free legal advice to survivors who may be unsure about whether or not they have a claim and should pursue a sexual assault civil lawsuit. We are here to answer any questions you have – discreetly, professionally, and with the care and attention you deserve.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a claim but are hesitant or fearful due to potential uncertainties, we are here to help guide you through the entire legal process. At Dordulian Law Group, we offer a unique type of sexual assault survivor representation through our SAJE Team. With DLG, you have a team of experts fighting on your behalf. Contact us today to learn more at 800-880-7777.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and workers compensation concerns.