Being the victim of a sex-offense is often a profoundly traumatic and disempowering experience. We work hard on behalf of our clients to achieve justice and facilitate the journey from victim to survivor. Our victims’ rights attorneys are sensitive to the unique struggles of sexual abuse survivors and particularly the challenges they face in pursuing justice through the courts.
We take a compassionate trauma-informed approach to our clients because the justice system should not be a re-traumatic experience for anyone. We have been successful in holding offenders and enablers accountable through the civil courts and won significant judgements for our clients.
- We represent victims of sexual assault in the state of California.
- Sexual abuse can happen to anyone; people of any age, race, gender, religion, or socio-economic status can be victims of sex-offenses. We represent victims from every walk of life, gender, age, economic status, etc.
Jennifer J. McGrath, Esq.
Jennifer has excelled in her career and uses her experience and skills to champion the cause of survivors of sexual offenses. She and Darren have built a sexual assault litigation team to handle complex civil suits on behalf of survivors of sex offenses. Through her tireless efforts, Jennifer has secured multi-million dollar awards for her clients.
Darren T. Kavinoky, Esq.
As Darren often says, “these aren’t just cases – they are a cause.” Darren founded the Kavinoky Law Firm and carved out a specialized sexual offense litigation team dedicated to representing survivors of sex crimes. As an attorney, husband, son, and father, he is dedicated to making the world a safer place for vulnerable people and obtaining justice for survivors. He has been successful in representing victims of sex offenses and secured multi-million dollar awards for his clients.
Rachel C. Aronowitz, Esq.
Rachel become an attorney to serve survivors of sexual abuse because of the tremendous impact such abuse has on victims and how unfairly victims are often treated in their search for justice. She is tenacious in fighting for her clients and takes a trauma-informed approach to client care. Rachel is sensitive and compassionate with her clients, yet aggressive an unrelenting against perpetrators and enablers.
Evonne Fisher, Esq.
Evonne is a talented attorney with a gentle, trauma-sensitive approach to clients. In addition to her legal skills, Evonne is a kind person who cares about her clients’ well-being first and foremost. Her respectful and compassionate demeanor makes her an easy person to talk to about difficult experiences.
Laura Vavakin, Esq.
Laura is a skilled attorney who cares deeply about helping victims of sex offenses obtain justice. She understands the emotional turmoil survivors often experience in telling their stories and makes every effort to ease that process. Her legal knowledge and experience allows every client to feel confident that they are getting excellent representation at all stages of the legal process. Laura’s goal is that each client walk away feeling confident and secure, and most of all, feel they were treated with dignity and respect.
- We represent victims of sexual assault in civil suits as well as criminal proceedings.
- Civil Suits:
- The criminal courts are not a victim’s only option for justice. In many instances, criminal conduct such as sexual battery can also be the basis for a civil lawsuit.
- Filing a civil lawsuit against an offender and/or their enablers is an excellent option for several reasons:
- civil suits, unlike criminal prosecutions, provide the victim more control over the litigation;
- the opportunity to win a money award (beyond what might be awarded as restitution in a criminal case);
- the opportunity to hold additional parties accountable for their role in enabling sexual abuse. For example, a school that employs a sexual predator as a teacher may not face any criminal consequences, but the school can be held responsible in civil courts. Civil suits therefore provide victims with an opportunity to hold sexual abuse enablers accountable for their misconduct in facilitating abuse;
- The burden of proof is lower in a civil court than in a criminal court. Most people have heard of the criminal court standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which in layman’s terms can be considered 99% certainty that the defendant is guilty as charged. But the standard of proof in a civil court is a “preponderance of the evidence,” which can be understood as basically more likely than not.
- A civil suit can be filed even if you never made a police report or if the perpetrator was found not guilty in criminal court.
- Criminal Proceedings:
- In any criminal prosecution the parties are the government, represented by the prosecution, and the defendant. The victim is considered only a witness and often times treated as a mere piece of evidence by both sides.
- Fortunately, in California we have the Victims Bill of Rights (also known as Marsy’s Law), which provides crime victims certain rights and protections in the criminal justice process. Victims need to understand that the prosecution’s client is the government, not the crime victim and therefore victims cannot rely on the prosecution to act in the victim’s best interest or honor their rights. As victims’ rights attorneys, we aggressively enforce our clients’ rights to be heard, respected, protected, and considered through the criminal justice process – from preliminary hearings through parole.
- We keep all our client matters guarded with strict confidentiality. In the early stages of a civil case, we file Protective Orders to keep your name and information private and shared with the other side on a firm need-to-know basis.
- We are paid on contingency – no upfront cost to the client. Our services are paid for as a percentage of the civil award.
- Our victims’ rights attorneys are skilled and equipped to enforce your rights in any manner provided by California or federal law.
- Your options for legal recourse will depend upon your specific facts. Contact us at (310) 953-4002 (or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org) to speak with a licensed attorney and find out what options you have.
- Am I the only one/alone?
- No, you are not alone. Every day our firm serves clients who have been abused in horrific manners. Feeling isolated and alone in trauma is a common experience for many victims, but the reality is that you are not alone and there are resources available to help you heal.
- How do I know if I have been victimized or abused?
- While some abuse is extreme and obvious, other instances of abuse may be less overt and leave the victim questioning their experience and whether what they experienced was abuse. Struggling to understand an experience or only later realizing that experience was abusive does not mean you were not abused. Trauma responses are unique to each individual; there is no right or wrong way for a victim to respond to trauma.
- In terms of legal action, the answer to this question will depend on your specific set of facts.
- To find out if your experience was an actionable instance of abuse, please call and speak with one of our trauma-sensitive attorneys: (310) 953-4002 (or email us at email@example.com)
- What can I do after I have been abused?
- The most important thing to do after sexual abuse is to get the help you need. If you have been abused very recently, it is important to seek medical care and preserve whatever evidence you can. Even if you do not want to file a civil suit or police report right now, you may change your mind later on. RAINN assists victims of sexual assault find medical treatment with professionals who are trauma-informed and will conduct an exam in a manner that preserves evidence.
- Psychological trauma can haunt you long after physical injuries have healed. Trauma-informed counseling may be necessary to your recovery.
- You should also consider the options available to you under the law. You can file a police report to start a criminal prosecution and have the offender arrested. Although restitution is sometimes awarded in criminal cases, the goal in a criminal prosecution is to convict the offender and have them jailed. Restitution is also much more limited than what you can demand and win in a civil lawsuit.
- You also have the option to file a civil lawsuit. You can file a civil lawsuit even if you do not file a police report or if the prosecution declines to charge the offender. You can sue the offender, and in some circumstances, also sue those who enabled or assisted the offender. In a civil suit, the goal is to hold the offender (and enablers) morally accountable and win a financial award.
- For more information on the best possible course of legal action for you, call our office and speak with a trauma-informed attorney: (310) 953-4002 (or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Can you sue someone for abusing you?
- Yes! Many people do not know that often times criminal conduct can also be the basis for a civil lawsuit. Sexual battery, for example, is both crime and a civil cause of action. In addition to the perpetrator, there may be other liable parties. For example, a student who was molested by a teacher can sue the teacher and the school if the school knew or should have known the teacher was a sexual predator.
- How long do I have to pursue a claim?
- A “statute of limitations” is the law for how long a you or the prosecution has to bring a case against an abuser or enabler. Statutes of limitations vary by state and are different in criminal versus civil courts.
- The criminal statutes of limitations depend on the particular charge, which will depend on how the prosecutor interprets the facts of your specific case as well as the available evidence and what the prosecutor believes he or she can actually prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Some sex offenses, such as sexual assault against a child or aggravated rape, can be prosecuted at any time. However, other sex offenses must be prosecuted within 6 years. This is a determination that will be made by prosecutors based on the specific facts of a given case and the evidence.
- In civil cases, the statute of limitations depends these factors: when the abuse occurred, how old you were at the time, and when you realized you had been abused or that the abuse negatively impacted your life (i.e., when the injury is discovered).
- The recent passage of AB 1619 extends the statute of limitation for a civil sexual offense lawsuit from three years to 10 years. However, this law is not retroactive. Abuse that occurred prior to AB 1619 will still be subject to a shorter statute of limitations.
- Whether you were above or below the age of 18 at the time of the abuse will be an important factor in determining how long you have to file a civil claim. In cases of child sexual abuse, the statute of limitations is put on hold until the victim turns 18 and gives victims an additional eight years to file a civil suit. For adult victims, the statute of limitations is only three years from the date the “injury” was discovered.
- In some instances, a victim may not realize until years later that what happened to them was abuse or that the abuse has negatively affected their life. In these instances, if the abuse occurred prior to AB 1619, the victim has three years to file a claim from the time they come to understand they have been abused and negatively impacted. Now, under AB 1619, abuse that occurred from 2019 forward will be subject to a 10 year statute of limitation.
- The statute of limitations might also be truncated if a government entity is implicated. Your time to file a claim against a pubic entity is much shorter – usually, only six months.
- Am I going to have to go public?
- No! Plaintiffs in sexual assault cases are allowed to file under fictitious names (i.e., John or Jane Doe names). Clients who have come forward and made public appearances have done so of their own choice, for their own reasons. Often those reasons are to encourage other victims to come forward and to regain a sense of empowerment. Deciding to go public is a personal choice for each person and we support our clients whether they want to speak publicly or remain anonymous. Your choice will not affect the quality of representation we provide; we fight as hard as we can for each and every client.
- What do I do now? Next steps?
- Contact our office and speak to a trauma-informed attorney to determine what options you have under the law and what the appropriate next steps are for you: (310) 953-4002 (or email us at email@example.com)
- You do not need to provide a full, graphic account of the abuse you suffered in the initial consultation phone call. Our attorneys will ask you relevant questions such as:
- The general nature of the abuse you suffered?
- Where and when the abuse occurred?
- How old were you at the time?
- Who perpetrated the abuse?
- What are you goals in taking legal action?
- Do I need to go to the police first (or at all)?
- No! This decision is entirely up to you. The criminal and civil courts are entirely separate. If a client chooses to file a police report and pursue criminal prosecution, we will fully support that choice and represent you under Marsy’s Law. We will make the criminal process as painless and compassionate as possible, including by communicating with the prosecution, attending criminal proceedings on your behalf, and ensuring your rights are respected.
- However, we also understand that the criminal process is not something every victim wants to pursue and we will represent clients in civil suits regardless of any criminal prosecution.
- Why pursue a lawsuit or legal action?
- This is one of the most personal choices a victim can make. We consistently hear from our clients that they chose to pursue legal action
- a) to hold the perpetrator accountable,
- b) to see justice carried out; and
- c) to protect other potential victims.
- Another reason to take legal action is to literally force the offender and their enablers to pay for the damage they have caused you with a monetary award. Recovery is a long difficult path, and often involves a lot of professional help, which is expensive. Many victims develop serious issues as a result of sexual abuse such as eating disorders, substance abuse/addiction, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. These painful consequences of abuse can be crippling and require years of expensive professional help such as therapy and inpatient and/or outpatient rehabilitation. In a civil lawsuit, you can be awarded money to cover the costs of these treatments and more.
- This is one of the most personal choices a victim can make. We consistently hear from our clients that they chose to pursue legal action
- Would I have to join a class action lawsuit?
- None of our cases are brought as class actions. Each case, and client, is treated individually. Due to the sensitive and personal nature of sexual abuse cases, we do not believe that class actions are the best or most appropriate avenue of obtaining justice for victims.
- I have other questions that are not answered in this FAQ, how can I get answers?
- Call our confidential phone line to speak with a licensed attorney who can conduct a free phone consultation and answer your questions: (310) 953-4002 (or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- What if I cannot afford an attorney?
- You do not pay us anything up front or out of pocket. We take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we are paid only if we win by collecting a percentage of the money the defendant is ordered to pay you.