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Dave Kennett
Dave Kennett, Lawyer (JD)
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27689
Experience:  25 years experience in general law, including real estate, criminal, traffic, and domestic relations
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My 15 year old daughter was assaulted today at school by a

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My 15 year old daughter was assaulted today at school by a 19 year old young man. He placed his hand in her crotch and lifted her into the air about 5-6 feet. It was caught on tape my the school CCTV. The PE coach and other students witnessed the act. What can I do?
Dear JACUSTOMER - You need to do two things. First you need to call the police and file sexual assault charges and second you can file a civil suit on behalf of your daughter for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. I doubt the kid has any money but you can get a judgment and he will have it hanging over his head if he ever gets a job or comes into some money in the future. There is no excuse for this and if there are witnesses I cannot imagine the prosecutor will not pursue the case. You definitely need to act on behalf of your daughter and file criminal charges.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The Assistant Police Chief said according to the local D.A. and Alabama law that it has to be skin on skin contact to constitute sexual abuse. Is this true? They told me I could only file for assault in the 3rd degree which is a slap on the wrist Class A Misdemeanor. He is the local rich kid in town with a history of this behavior since middle school. The school has always turned a blind eye to his behavior. I was told by the school to file charges with the police which I have. This will require the local superintendent of education to be involved at the school level. Is this enough? Should he be suspended or expelled from school? Should I seek civil action right away or wait on the criminal action and school's decision? This just happened today and I just can't seem to let this go. My 15 yr old daughter is surprisingly resilient and does not want to make trouble. She is distraught, embarrassed and humiliated by the whole incident. We live in a small town and she is afraid of rumor and lack of others believing her. It is however all on CCTV and the coach at her school witnessed the whole incident.

I understand the situation. You cannot force the police or the prosecutor to accept charges in a criminal case and if they do not believe the facts constitute sexual harassment then you can't force the issue. My opinion is that any touching of the private area is sexual contact regardless of whether there was clothing in between but that is my opinion and I can't influence your local police. I would file the civil suit as soon as possible. That gets publicity. If the kid is from a prominent family call the press and see if they will report it. You can cause the kid a lot trouble beyond a criminal conviction. Even if he's only charged with a misdemeanor it will be on his record when he seeks a job so all is not lost. You have no control over what penalty he receives so all you can do is file your case and let the prosecutor do what the prosecutor will do.You also need to talk to your daughter and get her to understand that if she doesn't stand up to a jerk like this she will be subject to more abuse in the future.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I deeply appreciate your expert advice. I too agree that any touching of the private area is sexual contact regardless of whether there is clothing in between. I know there is a difference in civil & criminal law. Would this be a winnable case in a civil court? I understand the power of publicity and press involvement but what kind of settlement are we talking here? I have some money but I know a civil suit attorney may cost lots of money. If they attorney up and my attorney is not as strong or to put it another way, they get a high dollar attorney. I am concerned that this could this end up costing me more than I can afford. Please advise... The proof is there, but do I subject my daughter to a long drawn out process that may create quite a stir in such a small town. She still has three years of high school left. I just don't think I have enough money to endure the process. Is this a real possibility? Could this backfire?

There are never any guarantees in a legal case and when you say "backfire" I assume you mean that you could lose the case. Anything is possible and a civil case would require your daughter to testify in open court which is something that may cause her more trauma. So I can't, in good conscience, tell you to file a suit unless you are willing to go through the entire process. Certainly you should continue to pursue the criminal case as best you can but only you can decide whether the cost of a civil case, both emotionally or financially is worth the effort. There are attorneys who take cases on a contingency so you may be able to find someone to at least talk to about that possibility and to review all the facts and give you an expert opinion on your chances of success.
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