Sexual Abuse & Assault Lawyers Whitby Oshawa Ajax Pickering
Sexual Abuse lawyers specializing in sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape claims, insurance claims, disputes, settlements and lawsuits for victims. Serving Toronto, Southern Ontario
Sexual Abuse Lawyer discusses abuse victims lawsuits and settlements
Persons who, as children, teenagers and/or adults, are the victims of sexual abuse have the right to sue their abusers and, if applicable, the institutions or organizations that placed these abusers in a position to abuse them. Similarly, persons who are infected by sexual partners with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) are entitled to sue if, at the time of contact, they were not informed that there was a risk of infection. The right to sue for compensation through the civil courts is a remedy that is distinct from pursuing an abuser though the criminal courts, or through other available legal channels.
See our Toronto Ontario Abuse Lawyer Elizabeth Grace’s article “Legal Redress Options Available to Abuse Victims” in Hospital News, October 2010, which discusses the legal channels available to victims of sexual abuse and assault.
There are many institutions or organizations that may be responsible for paying compensation where abuse has occurred. They include employers of all kinds (small and large, private and public), churches and religious institutions of all denominations, school boards, private schools, camps and care and residential facilities for children and adults, including those with disabilities.
Compensation for sexual assault or sexual abuse aims to put a victim back in the position he or she would have been in had the abuse not occurred. While it is never possible, though money alone, to remedy such a serious abuse of power and betrayal of trust as sexual abuse or assault, the courts have recognized that victims must be compensated. The compensation most commonly awarded to abuse victims covers the following:
- Pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life;
- The humiliating and degrading circumstances of the abuse;
- Past and/or future therapy and counselling costs; and
- Past and/or future income loss attributable to the abuse.
See our Toronto Abuse Lawyer Elizabeth Grace’s article “Trend develops for higher sexual abuse non-pecuniary awards” in The Lawyers Weekly, February 2010, for her analysis of the trend towards higher compensation awards in sexual abuse cases.
In some instances, the civil courts will also award what are called “punitive damages”. This is money awarded to victims of sexual abuse or assault that is specifically intended to punish the abuser for his or her serious misconduct.
How Canadian Courts Deal with Sexual Abuse and Assault
Courts across Canada have repeatedly recognized the serious and often devastating and long term nature of the harms caused by sexual abuse and assault. This recognition is clear from comments made by judges, such as the following:
“It cannot be forgotten that a sexual assault is very different from other assaults. It is true that it, like all other forms of assault, is an act of violence. Yet it is something more than a simple act of violence…. It is an assault upon human dignity….”
— R. v. Osolin,  4 S.C.R. 595 per Cory J. at 669
“By definition, a sexual assault deprives the victim of her dignity, her self-respect, her sense of self-confidence and leaves her fearful of places where she had previously found safety and solace.”
— S. (J.) v. Clement (1995), 122 D.L.R. (4th) 449 (Ont. Gen. Div.) per Lang J. at 520
“To assess damages for the psychological impact of sexual abuse on a particular person is like trying to estimate the depth of the ocean by looking at the surface of the water.”
— Y.(S.) v. C.(F.G.) (1996), 26 B.C.L.R. (3d) 155 (C.A.) per Macfarlane J.A. at para. 55
“Rape is unlike any other sort of injury incurred by accident or neglect. Survivors of rape must bear social stigmatization which accident victims do not. Rape is not about sex; it is about anger, it is about power and it is about control. It is … “an overwhelming life event.” It is a form of violence intended to create terror, to dominate, to control and to humiliate. It is an act of hostility and aggression. Forced sexual intercourse is inherently violent and profoundly degrading.”
— Jane Doe v. Metropolitan Toronto (Municipality) Commissioners of Police (1998), 39 O.R. (3d) 487 (Gen. Div.) per MacFarland J. at 532
Noteworthy trial decisions awarded the following compensation for the victims’ pain and suffering and the humiliating and degrading circumstances of the sexual abuse and assault they suffered (additional amounts were awarded in other areas):
- Doe v. O’Dell – 2003 Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision awarding $175,000 to a man who, at approximately age 12, was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a priest.
- Waters v. Bains – 2008 British Columbia Supreme Court decision awarding $325,000 to a woman who had endured more than ten years of sexual abuse, starting at age 8, by her uncle.
- Evans v. Sproule – 2008 Ontario Superior Court decision awarding $150,000 to a woman who, as a young adult, was sexually assaulted on one occasion by a police officer. The assault did not include any genital contact.
- C.C.B. v. I.B. – 2009 British Columbia Supreme Court decision awarding $250,000 to a woman who was sexually abused by her father between the ages of 5 and 9.
Toronto Ontario Lawyer Elizabeth Grace’s Legal Team
Our recommended Ontario Abuse lawyer Elizabeth Grace has almost twenty years of experience working on behalf of, and achieving results for, those who have suffered sexual abuse and assault. Elizabeth and her team of lawyers from the law firm Lerners LLP, which includes Toronto Ontario lawyer Gillian Hnatiw and Elizabeth’s paralegal staff, work fearlessly to advance their clients’ rights and interests.
A civil lawsuit can yield not only compensation for harms attributable to sexual assault and abuse, but when handled by a lawyer experienced in the area of abuse who brings passion, creativity and sensitivity to the task at hand, it can also bring a sense of empowerment, vindication and closure for the victim.
If a claim is historical in nature – i.e., it happened many years ago, such as in childhood or adolescence – it is particularly important not to delay obtaining legal advice about your options because there may be limitations periods that apply to bar or stop a claim for compensation. See our abuse lawyer Elizabeth Grace’s recent article in The Lawyers Weekly, February 4, 2011, “How distinct limitations apply to sexual abuse claims”, for a discussion of the limitations periods that can operate in sexual abuse and assault cases.
To help you navigate through the different legal options available to victims of sexual assault or abuse, contact recommended abuse lawyer Elizabeth Grace who leads a team experienced in the areas of sexual assault and sexual abuse. Elizabeth and her team have been involved in abuse-related lawsuits involving large, medium and small-sized institutions, including many public and private organizations, religious institutions of various denominations, professionals like teachers, lawyers, and dentists, and numerous individuals such as family members and neighbours.
Elizabeth is the co-author of the leading Canadian legal text in the area of sexual abuse, Civil Liability for Sexual Abuse and Violence in Canada (2000: Butterworths), as well as other publications in the abuse area. She is also a frequent speaker at conferences dealing with abuse-related issues. She has advocated before all levels of court as well as before various administrative tribunals. She frequently assists clients whose cases involve criminal and civil court processes as well as other legal processes, such as the Ontario government-run criminal injuries compensation system, human rights applications and professional disciplinary hearings.
Examples of women and men whom Elizabeth and her team have successfully represented include:
- Victims of childhood sexual abuse committed by priests and clergy;
- Victims of sexual abuse committed when they were children by persons in positions of power at Indian residential school facilities, a school for the blind, various public and private schools and the Boy Scouts;
- Victims of sexual and physical abuse who, as adults, experienced abuse in various employment, housing and caregiving contexts; and
- Victims of childhood sexual abuse committed by trusted professionals (e.g., lawyer and teacher), relatives, friends and neighbours.
For an example of the public recognition that Elizabeth’s work and cases have received, see the Chatelaine Magazine article, “Judgment call”, October 1998 (http://lernerspersonalinjury.ca/lawyers:72).
What Clients Are Saying About Elizabeth Grace and Her Team
Former clients (who have requested their anonymity be respected) have made the following comments about the legal representation they received from Elizabeth Grace and her team:
“It was at this vulnerable time in my life, in the mid-1970’s, that I was raped by a trusted professional in Toronto. At the time and for a very long time afterwards, I was devastated, confused, isolated and terribly ashamed and did not know where to turn. I told no one…Elizabeth partnered with me in dealing with my personal triumph. She is the epitome of what an attorney “should be”. She sets the bar high for the legal profession and client advocacy. Elizabeth helped bring closure to a chapter in my life that I thought would never have an ending…Elizabeth was a relentless advocate for my rights and helped restore the dignity that I once lost.”
“I was raised in a traditional, Irish, Catholic family. During my teen years I was sexually assaulted hundreds of times by two highly respected and trusted priests who were also family friends. I was devastated by the priests’ abuse and the lack of intervention by adult witnesses. I was violated physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually for years…. Elizabeth and her team were very sensitive to the long-term impacts of the abuse. I was consistently treated respectfully and professionally….Throughout the process, I found Elizabeth to be honest, conscientious, trustworthy and approachable. I felt supported, respected, informed and in control of decisions. Most significant to me was that I felt valued by Elizabeth. For the first time, the trauma I suffered and its impacts on my life were understood, acknowledged and validated. Undertaking civil litigation and facing the defendants was extremely difficult. Elizabeth was an excellent and true advocate.”
“A friend recommended Elizabeth Grace and Lerners to me in the spring of 2006 when she heard I was looking for a lawyer. The year before I had been sexually assaulted by the superintendent of the building where I lived, who used his keys to enter my apartment in the middle of the night and attack me with a knife. The criminal trial was coming up, and I wanted legal advice about how to proceed, knowing I may want to consider a civil suit, but not knowing much about what that would entail….I met Elizabeth Grace and Gillian Hnatiw…and from our first meeting on, they epitomized the best of professionalism, efficiency, as well as appropriate personal sensitivity. I was anxious and nervous about proceeding, and they explained each step fully and clearly, explaining the potential implications of each facet of my situation for the suit, as well as what was and was not under anyone’s control. They were sympathetic and realistic. We proceeded despite the fact that I was not able to offer a retainer…Both the experience of going through the civil suit, and the material security of the resolution, have helped me slowly redevelop a sense of being able to take care of myself and pursue my personal and professional goals.”
Elizabeth Grace will ensure you receive a prompt initial consultation regarding your matter at no charge so that you can understand what options you have for recourse in relation to the sexual abuse or sexual assault you have suffered.
Our Ontario sex abuse and sex assault lawyers offer victims respect and experienced guidance based upon our record for success in obtaining fair compensation for injuries and losses in sex abuse, sex assault and other abuse cases. Offering flexible payment structures (including contingency fee/do not pay unless you win). Providing services to Whitby, Oshawa, Ajax, Pickering, Port Perry, Scugog, Kawartha, Lindsay, Kitchener, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Markham, Thornhill, Vaughan, Toronto, Scarborough, GTA Ontario and beyond.
Our Toronto lawyers have handled all manner of sex abuse cases, including church abuse cases, claims and abuse/assault lawsuits against priests and clergy, as well as cases against institutions and individuals.Sexual Abuse lawyers specializing in sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape claims, insurance claims, disputes, settlements and lawsuits for victims. Serving Toronto, Southern Ontario. Our main information page can be found at Ontario Lawyers