Sexual abuse includes any sexual act which is intended to do any of the following to another individual:
- Harass; or
The state laws which govern criminal sexual abuse will vary depending upon whether the victim is a minor or an adult. Adult sexual abuse may be referred to as rape or aggravated sexual assault.
Child sexual abuse may be referred to as child molestation. An individual has committed sexual abuse if they cause another individual to engage in any sexual act by threatening them or causing fear in the other individual or if they engage in any sexual act with another individual who is incapable of comprehending the exact nature of that conduct or who is physically incapable of communicating their unwillingness to engage in the sexual act.
Sexual assault refers to any sexual activity which occurs without clear and uncoerced consent of all of the parties involved. Sexual assault is a crime in each state in the United States and sexual activity with any individual who is unable to consent is forbidden.
Certain categories of individuals are unable to consent to sexual activities, including individuals who are:
- Mentally ill;
- Under the age of eighteen; or
There are several different types of actions which constitute sexual assault, including, but not limited to:
- Forced sodomy; and
In certain states, including Texas, the term sexual abuse is typically used to describe a criminal act of sexual conduct against a child. The term sexual assault is typically used to describe a criminal act of sexual conduct against an adult.
These types of offenses are typically subject to a statute of limitations (SOL). Statutes of limitations are time limits for an individual or a prosecutor to file a lawsuit.
Usually, if a lawsuit is filed after the SOL expires, the case will be dismissed. Because of this, it is important to report any instances of sexual abuse as quickly as possible.
An early investigation can lead to stronger evidence in the case. In addition, the statute of limitations which applies is the one which existed at the time of the incident.
This means that although the statute of limitations may have been extended since the incident, it will typically not renew a time-barred case.
Pursuant to Indiana sexual abuse laws, there are different statutes of limitations for criminal and civil sexual abuse cases.
Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse
In a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse, the victim is demanding damages and compensation from their abuser. An individual may be entitled to economic damages as well as non-economic damages, which includes compensation for their pain and suffering.
In Indiana, there is a longer statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases. If an individual is a victim of childhood abuse, they are required to file their civil case within:
- Seven years of their 18th birthday,
- Seven years from the time they could have reasonably discovered the abuse, or
- Four years from the end of their dependency on an abuser.
Adult sexual abuse cases are required to be filed within two years of the incident. The statute of limitations on sexual harassment varies by state, typically between 2 and 4 years.
The statute of limitations on rape is 7 years but there are exceptions and limitations to this rule. It is important to note that the statute of limitations may vary based upon the specific offense.
If sexual abuse occurs at an individual’s place of employment, they may also have a sexual harassment lawsuit under federal laws. The individual is required to file their complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of when the sexual abuse or harassment occurred.
The EEOC will investigate the individual’s claim and determine whether it will pursue a lawsuit on their behalf. If the EEOC decides not to litigate the claim, it will issue a Right to Sue letter. An individual is required to file a lawsuit within 90 days of receiving the EEOC’s Right to Sue letter.
Criminal Cases for Sexual Abuse
Criminal cases in Indiana, as well as in other states, are filed by the state itself. In order to file a criminal charge, an individual must notify law enforcement of the sexual abuse.
Law enforcement will investigate any claims and a prosecutor may file charges against the offender. If the suspect is found guilty of the criminal offense, they may:
- Be sentenced to significant jail time;
- Be required to pay criminal fines; or
- Be required to participate in sex offender registration.
The statutes of limitations for sexual abuse charges in Indiana will vary depending upon the severity of the offense, including:
- No SOL for violent sexual assaults and sexual assault of a minor by a perpetrator who is at least 21 years old;
- 5 years from the incident for other adult felony sexual offenses;
- By the victim’s 31st birthday, if involving;
- Child molestation;
- Vicarious sexual gratification with a minor;
- Solicitation of a child;
- Seduction of a child; or
- For other child sexual abuse charges: within 10 years of the act or within four years of becoming independent from the abuser, whichever is later; and
- 2 years from the offense for misdemeanor cases.
If a felony sexual abuse case involves DNA evidence, criminal charges are required to be filed within one year after a perpetrator could have reasonably been identified.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Statutory Rape in Indiana?
In the State of Indiana, an individual may be convicted of statutory rape by engaging in any type of sexual activity, even consensual, with a child who is under 16 years of age. Statutory rape in the state may also be referred to as:
- Sexual misconduct; or
- Child seduction.
In addition, engaging in a sexual activity with an individual 16 years of age or older by force or without the other individual’s consent may also result in criminal charges. The statute of limitations on statutory rape in Indiana is 5 years, one of only seven states with a SOL of 5 years or less for rape charges.
Other Compensation for Sex Abuse Victims
In Indiana, the Violent Crime Victim Compensation Fund will pay for a victim of sexual abuse to receive a forensic exam, which is performed to document evidence of abuse. This fund may also pay up to $15,000 for crime-related medical or other expenses.
The individual may be required to reimburse the state if they receive additional compensation through a civil lawsuit. In order to receive compensation, other than for a forensic exam, an individual is required to report the crime to law enforcement within 72 hours as well as apply for benefits within 180 days.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
It may be very helpful to have the assistance of an Indiana criminal lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns you have related to a sexual abuse case. These types of claims can be emotionally challenging.
These claims also involve strict procedural rules as well as detailed legal analyses. Your lawyer can inform you of your rights and guide you through the process.
If you are charged with a sexual abuse, your lawyer can defend your rights and represent you in court. A conviction may result in many more consequences than simply incarceration, so it is important to have a lawyer on your case.