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Illinois Sexual Assault in Prison Attorney

You do not lose the right to be free from unwanted sexual contact as a prison inmate. If you or a loved one were a victim of sexual assault in prison, you have rights. You can help hold your attackers criminally and civilly liable for their actions. Contact the Mahoney Law Firm to hold the responsible parties accountable and get the compensation you deserve.

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    Unfortunately, sexual assault is a frequent occurrence in prisons. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported that there were 2,886 substantiated incidents of sexual victimization by another inmate and 2,496 incidents of sexual victimization by a prison staffer from 2016 through 2018. Moreover, half of the sexual assaults happened in areas without video surveillance.

    Sexual assault can range from unwanted sexual touching to rape. It is important to understand that sexual assault in prison is a crime. And it is illegal in Illinois and all United States states for a prison guard or other prison staff member to engage in any sexual activity with a prisoner. It is also grounds for a civil lawsuit to pursue monetary damages compensating you for your losses.

    As a survivor, you may blame yourself or feel you could have done more to prevent the prison assault. But you are not to blame. You can hold your assaulter criminally and civilly liable for their actions and recover compensation. Call the office of the Mahoney Law Firm in Illinois for a free consultation on how we can help you get your life back.

    Why Choose Us for This Case?

    • Our sexual assault attorneys have years of experience handling challenging cases. We understand Illinois’ civil justice system and have recovered over $100 million in verdicts and out-of-court settlements on behalf of our clients.
    • We care about our clients. As your prison sexual assault lawyers, we will take the time to listen to you and understand the issues related to your prison sexual assault case. You will benefit from personalized legal services throughout your case.
    • Your first consultation about a potential sexual assault lawsuit is free. You will speak to our attorneys in confidence and receive trustworthy legal advice at no upfront cost or obligation to hire our law firm. You will not pay us unless we accept and win your case.

    What Is the Definition of Sexual Assault?

    Sexual assault is the crime of touching another person’s private parts without the victim’s consent for the purpose of sexual gratification, arousal or abuse. Under Illinois law, criminal sexual assault is defined as committing an act of sexual penetration while using force or threat of force or while knowing that the victim is unable to give knowing consent or understand the nature of the act.

    There are also special rules for victims who are under the age of 18. If an individual is a family member of a victim who is a minor, any act of sexual penetration constitutes sexual assault. If the perpetrator is 17 years of age or older and holds a position of trust, authority or supervision over a victim who is between the ages of 13 and 18, it is also recognized as sexual assault.

    How the Mahoney Law Firm Helps Victims of Sexual Assault

    The Mahoney Law Firm has extensive experience in representing victims of sexual assault in prison. Attorney Ryan Mahoney has been recognized by the “National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40” and was peer selected as one of the “Leading Lawyers” for 2022 and 2023. Ryan has advocated for the rights of sexual assault victims for 17 years. He will explain your rights with kindness and compassion and stand by you through the litigation process. He will help you hold your abuser responsible.

    At the Mahoney Law Firm, we treat every survivor of sexual assault with care. We understand that your basic human right to treatment with respect and dignity is not forfeited in prison.

    Legal Framework for Sexual Assault in Prison

    Sexual assault in any form is illegal in the U.S. prison system. There are state and federal laws that protect inmates who have been victims of sexual assault crimes while incarcerated and laws that hold perpetrators accountable.

    Examples of sexual assault in prison can include the following:

    Note that for a prison guard or staff member, consent to the sexual act is not a defense. Because a prison guard or prison staff member has a position of authority and “control” over the inmate, even if the inmate gave consent, it is not valid.

    Laws Governing Sexual Assault in Prison

    Various laws are in place criminalizing sexual assault in prison and providing a mechanism for inmates to hold their attackers liable for the prison assault.

    Constitutional Rights

    Sexual assault or abuse in prison is a violation of your constitutional rights. The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. As an inmate, you have the right to be free from sexual assault, abuse, and harassment.

    Right to Safety and Security

    By law, prison inmates must be housed in environments that ensure their reasonable safety and security. This includes security from fellow inmates as well as prison guards and security staff who may attempt to sexually harass, abuse and assault prisoners.

    Access to Medical Care and Counseling

    Prisoners have the legal right to receive the medical care and counseling services they need to address physical and emotional trauma caused by sexual assault incidents. If necessary services are withheld, legal action can be taken.

    Civil Rights

    The Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. 1983, allows inmates who were sexually assaulted to sue those responsible, including prison guards, staff, and the facility. This law allows for civil liability and recovery of compensation.

    Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003

    The Prison Rape Elimination Act is a federal law enacted in 2003. Its purpose is to eliminate sexual assault and harassment in prisons.

    This act set forth a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault in prisons and stated the following:

    Inmates are encouraged to report allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. They can submit a grievance, tell a prison staff member, or ask a family member or friend to report it.

    Unique Aspects of Sexual Assault in Prison Cases

    If you suffered any form of sexual assault while in prison or jail, it is important to hire an attorney to help you with a civil claim. These lawsuits come with unique aspects compared to other personal injury and sexual assault cases. You may face unique challenges in seeking justice, such as proving that the assault occurred. 

    Witnesses may be too afraid of retaliation to provide statements to support your claim, for example, or power dynamics within the prison hierarchy may lead to cover-ups of known cases of sexual assault by prison guards. Our assault attorney for prison in Illinois can help you overcome these obstacles and use the legal protections that are in place for inmates to support your case.

    Holding Perpetrators and Prisons Accountable

    Reporting sexual assault can be scary. The truth is that most sexual violence cases go unreported for the following reasons:

    Nevertheless, reporting the truth will hold the perpetrators accountable in the justice system. The Mahoney Law Firm can help you navigate the process.

    Prison Litigation Reform Act

    The first step is to exhaust all remedies before you file a lawsuit. The Prison Litigation Reform Act was enacted in 1996. It mandates that a prisoner may not bring a Section 1983 claim or any other action until they go through the entire administrative law process to obtain a remedy before they can go to the court for relief. This process involves filing detailed written grievances with prison officials.

    The issue with this law is that it makes it harder for inmates to defend their rights and hold their abusers accountable. Many inmates are deprived of justice by denying immediate access to the court system because they do not have the finances to hire an attorney to utilize all administrative remedies and then move to the court system. Thus, many inmates decide not to go forward with their lawsuits.

    Two Legal Avenues to Justice

    There are two avenues to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The first is criminal liability. It is an Illinois state crime and a federal crime for prison guards or staff to sexually assault an inmate, and it is also a crime for an inmate to sexually assault another inmate.

    Upon notification of the assault and filing a complaint with the prison, the prosecutor’s office can file criminal charges for violating federal or Illinois state law. The perpetrator then faces potential prison time and fines. Like any other criminal case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the perpetrator committed the sexual assault.

    The other legal option is to file a civil case. Here, the victim files a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator or the prison where the assault occurred. The legal basis for the claim may include sexual assault, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The burden of proof in civil cases is lower than in criminal cases. The case will either be settled before trial or end with a trial verdict where the victim can recover compensation for the physical injuries, mental trauma, and medical bills relating to the assault.

    How the Mahoney Law Firm Fights For You

    At the Mahoney Law Firm, we will help you through the hurdles of exhausting the required administrative options. Then we will file your case.

    The prison controls most of the evidence of the assault, including the following:

    But don’t worry; we have the knowledge and skills to obtain that evidence. Our firm will subpoena the relevant parties as soon as possible to recover the needed evidence. We will pursue all avenues of justice while negotiating with prison officials.

    Compensation for Victims of Sexual Assault in Prison

    If you file a civil suit against your attacker or the prison where the attack occurred, you can recover compensation for any physical and emotional injuries you sustained from the assault.

    Examples of compensation include:

    Our sexual assault in prison lawyers will help you recover damages to help you and your family rebuild your life and eliminate the financial burden the assault may have placed on you.

    Contact the Mahoney Law Firm

    Sexual assault in prison is not your fault. If you or a loved one has experienced sexual assault in prison, it is essential to seek legal support from experienced attorneys who understand the complexities of this issue. The Mahoney Law Firm has a proven track record of representing victims of sexual assault in prison in Illinois and fighting for justice on their behalf. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.

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    Sexual Assault in Prison FAQs

    What Is the Time Limit for Filing a Claim?

    In Illinois, there is a legal filing time limit of two years for the majority of sexual assault and abuse lawsuits. If the victim is under the age of 18 when the prison sexual assault occurs, however, the clock on the statute of limitations does not start to run until his or her 18th birthday.

    It is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible about a potential civil lawsuit if you are a survivor of sexual assault in a prison in Illinois. If you miss your deadline, you will most likely forfeit the right to hold someone responsible and seek financial compensation.

    Note, however, that there is no statute of limitations for criminal charges against a sexual abuser. No matter how much time has passed since a prison sexual assault incident, an individual can face criminal charges in Illinois. This has been the law since 2017.

    How Frequent is Sexual Assault in Prison?

    Sexual assault in prison is a systemic problem in American jails. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 80,000 men and women are sexually abused in prisons every year.

    What is Prison Sexual Abuse?

    Prison sexual abuse can occur between inmates or between an inmate and a prison guard or prison staff member. It can include rape, attempted rape, sexual touching, sexual harassment, and sex by threat or coercion.

    Who Can I Speak to About a Sexual Assault in Prison?

    There are many different avenues you can pursue. You can speak to family, but if you are uncomfortable doing so, there are ways to seek professional help.

    One option is to call 800-656-HOPE (4673). This is the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline, where you can speak to trained professionals from a local sexual assault service provider.

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