Options for Redress for Sexual Assault — Civil Sexual Assault Law Video Series Episode 1
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Options for Redress for Sexual Assault — Civil Sexual Assault Law Video Series Episode 1

November 20, 2019


I started practicing in the area of
civil sexual assault because I wanted to give a legal voice
to the widespread problem of sexual abuse in society. There are actually many legal avenues of redress that are
available either alone or in combination. This is
because sexual abuse is a serious wrong and it’s
recognized as such in various legal context, so aside
from the criminal justice system which aims
to punish the wrongdoer there are some
several options. The primary one is a civil lawsuit against the individual wrongdoer and it can also be against others, other
involved parties such as an employer and that process aims to compensate a victim of sexual abuse. Another option is alternative dispute resolution and that is a process that is out of court and
works where the parties are prepared to work together cooperatively to try to
find a solution. That’s a process that can give rise to
compensation like a lawsuit or non-monetary remedies Yes there are what I would call
administrative legal processes so for example and internal or disciplinary proceeding in which a person’s right to practice their chosen profession is
stopped or suspended. So for example a therapist can be subject
to a disciplinary hearing by the body that governs the therapist
and that could be for instance, the college’s social
workers and the college’s psychologists. Likewise, a Priest or Minister can be disciplined by his or her church.
There are human rights proceedings that apply
where there has been sexual or another form of discrimination or harassment and that
process can give rise to monetary and a
non-monetary remedies. Also, provincial and
territorial governments have established schemes for compensation. It’s modest
compensation, but compensation for victims of crime
and that includes of course sexual offenses and
then there can sometimes be societal responses and I’m thinking here of a public
inquiry where there is an attempt to understand how and why abuse
occurred and how to stop it from occurring again in the
future and here I am thinking of a process like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that
was instituted by our federal government to
try and understand why First Nation children were abused
and mistreated in residential schools across the country. There are many considerations when I advise a client about the
options. These include legal fees, some of the
process as I’ve described legal fees are lower or even nil. There’s also the issue of compensation. Some of the processes
provide for more, some for less compensation. Non-monetary
remedies… some of the processes don’t allow for any non-monetary, many others
do and then there’s the issue of the extent of the control
over the process and one has to remember that survivors
of sexual abuse have had power and control taken away from them so the extent to which they can direct or shape a process can be very
important.

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