Virginia Sex Abuse Lawsuits

If you were the victim of sexual abuse or assault, either as a child or an adult, you have the right to bring a civil lawsuit against both your abuser and any school, company, or organization that might be liable for the abuse.

In this post, we will provide a brief overview of sexual abuse lawsuits in Virginia. We will look at the Virginia statute of limitations for sex abuse civil cases and the potential settlement value of these cases. We will also discuss how a new proposed law in Virginia could make it much easier for child sex abuse victims to bring lawsuits. If you have a Virginia sex abuse case, contact us today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082.


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Virginia Sex Abuse Lawsuit Updates:

February 6, 2024 – Revenge Porn Bill Advances in Va. Legislature

A bill advanced in the Virginia House of Delegates this week aims to broaden the state’s revenge porn law by encompassing a new category of “sexual” images that would be deemed unlawful to distribute.

Certainly, Virginians are well aware of this issue after videos livestreamed by Democratic House candidate Susanna Gibson and her husband were brought to the media’s attention.

Under the current statute, images depicting a person fully nude or in a state of undress with their genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or breasts exposed are covered. Shin’s bill seeks to broaden this law to include images “sexual in nature” even if those body parts are not exposed. However, it does not specify the definition of “sexual in nature.”  Furthermore, the proposed measure would extend the statute of limitations for prosecution to 10 years from the date the victim becomes aware of the offense, compared to the current five years from the date of the offense.

November 24, 2024 –Sheriff Employee Convicted of Sex Abuse

Former Franklin County Sheriff’s Office employee Justin Dale Sigmon was convicted of abusive sexual contact with a minor last week. The FBI brought the charges against the 47-year-old Sigmon following an incident involving a young girl on a cruise ship in May.

August 15, 2023 – Court Rules Sex Abuse Claims are Time-Barred

Yesterday, a court in Richmond decided E.E. v. Cumberland Hosp., LLC, a sex abuse lawsuit involves multiple plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse and other misconduct by the defendants at Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents. The defendants sought to dismiss the claims based on statute of limitations grounds. The court ruled that the Virginia Medical Malpractice Act did not apply to sexual abuse claims, allowing a 20-year statute of limitations to apply instead of the usual two-year limit for medical malpractice claims. Additionally, the court found that claims related to false imprisonment and violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act were timely filed within two years of the plaintiffs discovering the misrepresentations. However, the court ruled that two plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred due to reaching the age of majority before the effective date of the relevant statutes.

The legal action was initiated in October 2020 with 20 plaintiffs, later amended to include approximately two dozen additional individuals. These former patients of the facility in New Kent County assert various allegations, encompassing instances of sexual or physical abuse, claims of negligence, and accusations of falsifying medical records and diagnoses to extend their periods of stay.

July 1, 2023 – New Law on Adult Sex Abuse Claims Takes Effect

Virginia’s new law expanding the statute of limitations for certain sex abuse lawsuits involving adult victims goes into effect today. Va. House Bill 1647 (which amends Virginia Code § 8.01-243) takes effect today. Under this new law, adult sex abuse victims now have 15 years to file a lawsuit if the abuse was committed by a person of “authority” (e.g., a boss, police officer, etc.).

Definition of Sexual Abuse in Virginia

The legal definition of sexual abuse or sexual assault in Virginia is pretty much the same as it is in every other state. Virginia defines sexual abuse is as any intentional “sexual touching” without consent. There are 2 key parts or elements to this definition: (1) sexual touching, and (2) lack of consent.

Sexual touching is basically and type of contact or touching of another person’s sexual organs with intent and for the purpose of sexual gratification. Accidentally touching a woman’s breasts in the elevator does not amount to sexual abuse — but deliberately fondling her breasts does.

The other key element that makes something qualify as sexual abuse is the lack of consent. If the sexual touching is done without consent it is automatically abuse or assault. Minors (anyone under the age of 18) lack the legal capacity to give consent, which means any sexual touching by an adult with a minor is necessarily considered sexual abuse.

Civil Lawsuits for Sex Abuse in Virginia

Under Virginia state law, individuals who have experienced sexual abuse have the option of filing a civil lawsuit and seeking money damages. Virginia allows victims to bring a civil lawsuit regardless of whether they filed criminal charges. You can file a sex abuse lawsuit even if you never told anyone at all about the abuse.

To initiate a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse, victims are only required to be willing to provide sworn testimony regarding the details of the sexual abuse or assault. This testimony can be reinforced by additional evidence, such as medical records demonstrating physical injuries resulting from the assault. Moreover, testimony from other witnesses who can attest to the factual aspects of the case may also be presented.

While sexual abuse lawsuits become part of the public record, Virginia’s civil procedure rules permit victims involved in such cases to safeguard their anonymity in publicly filed court documents. For instance, if a person named Jessica Smith files a sexual abuse lawsuit, she can be referred to as “J.S.” or Jane Doe in the legal pleadings.

Third-Party Liability in Virginia Sex Abuse Lawsuits

The primary defendant in any sexual abuse or assault lawsuit would be the person who committed the sexual abuse. The problem with suing the abuser is that they might already be dead or in jail. Even if they are still alive and not incarcerated, they probably don’t have the money or financial resources to pay for any big verdict or settlement.

The most effective way to get money in a civil sex abuse lawsuit is to sue a third party for negligence in connection with the abuse. Schools, youth organizations, churches,  and gyms, are common examples of the type of third party defendant’s that can be held liable in sex abuse case. Third parties have liability if their negligence somehow enabled the abuse to occur or to continue. Third parties in sex abuse lawsuits can also be held liable if they attempt to cover up abuse incidents after the fact.

The following example will help illustrate how third parties can be liable in sexual assault cases. Let’s assume that Jack was a student at a private school in Richmond. In 4th grade, Jack’s teacher, Mr. Doe, sexually abused him over the year. The school had previously received numerous warnings indicating that Mr. Doe may be a sexual predator, including prior allegations of abuse by students and incidents of highly inappropriate behavior. Jack can file a civil lawsuit against the private school for negligently failing to investigate Mr. Doe and prevent him from abusing others like Jack.

Virginia Statute of Limitations in Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Virginia law has separate statute of limitations periods that apply in sex abuse cases depending on whether the sexual abuse occurred when the victim was an adult or a child. If the sexual abuse occurred when the victim was a child (under age 18), then Virginia law gives the victim until their 38th birthday (20 years after they turn 18) to file a civil lawsuit for that sexual abuse. Va. Stat. § 8.01-243(D)

If the victim was an adult when the sexual abuse occurred, however, they must file a lawsuit within 2 years of the date that the sexual abuse or assault occurred. In March 2023, however, Virginia enacted a new law that gives adult victims of sexual abuse 15 years to file a civil lawsuit IF the abuse was committed by a “person of authority.” The new provision in the statute provides: …

every action for injury to the person, whatever the theory of recovery, resulting from sexual abuse occurring when the person was 18 years old or older by a person of authority over a victim shall be brought within 15 years after the cause of action accrues. For the purposes of this subsection, “person of authority” means a person in a position of trust having influence over the victim’s life.

Va. House Bill 1647 (amending and reenacting Virginia Code § 8.01-243). The law took effect on July 1, 2023.

Virginia Sex Abuse Settlements & Verdicts

$828,000 Verdict: A two-year-old female suffered emotional distress after being sexually abused at her babysitter’s home. The plaintiff contended the babysitter’s sons, age 13 and 11, admitted raping, sodomizing and choking the girl in their home over a three-month period.  The defendant babysitter referral service claimed that it had investigated a prior complaint of the boys molesting another girl but found the complaint without merit. The defendant referral company claimed it could have done nothing to prevent the attacks.

$6,850,000 Verdict: The plaintiff said she was sexually molested by, assaulted, battered and raped by her father since the age of four. The woman claimed the abuse lasted until she was 14. According to the woman, her father used his power, control and elevated position, his physical strength, pressure, words, actions, threats of violence and discipline, judgment and drugs to intentionally and habitually sexually molest the woman. 

$637,000 Verdict: A 14-year-old female suffered emotional distress when she was sexually molested by the male defendant while she was babysitting for his children. The plaintiff contended that the defendant held her against her will, forced her to engage in indecent acts and that she did nothing to provoke or encourage the defendant’s actions.

$250,000 Verdict: The plaintiff, an 11-year-old male, suffered emotional distress when the male defendant exposed himself and suggested performing sodomy with the plaintiff.

$85,000 Verdict: A 20-year-old female suffered herpes and emotional distress when she was sexually molested by the male defendant, who was her father, when the plaintiff was 5 years old. The plaintiff contended that the defendant’s actions were malicious with the intent to harm, that he negligently sexually molested her, and that the attack was unprovoked.

$425,000 Settlement: A seven-year-old female suffered emotional distress when she was coerced into engaging in sexual activity with minor boys at the defendant’s apartment complex resident manager’s apartment.  The plaintiff contended that the manager had a history of child molestation and that the defendant was negligent for failing to properly check the manager’s background before hiring him.

$660,000 Settlement: Twelve females aged 6 to 9 years were molested by a kindergarten bus driver employed by the defendant county. The incidents occurred from 1979 to 1982, while the girls were kindergarten students at a county elementary school. The plaintiffs contended that the defendant was negligent in selecting, hiring, and retaining the driver. On several occasions, there had been complaints that the plaintiff had fondled children.

$5,013,868 Verdict: A plaintiff suffered sexual abuse while a patient at the defendant nursing home. The plaintiff contended that the defendant negligently hired its employees and breached its contract to provide proper care. The punitive damages award was initially $4.5 million but it was reduced to $350,000 due to a statutory cap.

Contact Us About Virginia Sex Abuse Lawsuits

If you were the victim of sexual abuse and want to file a sex abuse lawsuit in Virginia, contact us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.






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