Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Were you sexually abused or assaulted in Illinois? The Chicago sexual abuse lawyers at Ankin Law have more than 100 years of combined experience helping survivors like you seek justice. We handle all types of sexual abuse and molestation cases, including those involving members of the clergy, teachers and school staff members, coaches, doctors, and police. 

Victims of sexual abuse often suffer lifelong physical, psychological and emotional injuries. Frequently, the damage caused by sexual abuse can manifest itself in other ways as well. Although sexual abuse is a criminal offense that is punishable by imprisonment, a victim may also pursue a civil lawsuit to recover compensation for the damages caused. Unfortunately, suing your abuser or another liable party can be emotionally overwhelming for victims – especially if these cases go to trial. As one of the largest injury law firms in Illinois, we have the knowledge, skill, compassion, and resources to ensure your perpetrator is held accountable, so you can begin to heal.

Call a Sexual Abuse Lawyer with Ankin Law to hold your abuser accountable for the suffering they caused. (312) 600-0000 .

Compensation for Sexual Abuse Cases

Winning compensation is a crucial element in healing and helping victims of sexual assault feel like they have obtained justice against the perpetrator. When survivors decide to sue their abusers, they can pursue compensation for the physical, emotional, and psychological damages they have suffered. Holding abusers accountable can be achieved through both civil and criminal legal processes. Civil proceedings provide financial recourse for survivors, while criminal proceedings punish abusers for their actions. 

Survivors of sexual abuse may seek financial redress to cover various losses, including medical expenses, therapy costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering. This compensation can help survivors like you rebuild their lives. 

Various types of compensation may be available through a sexual abuse lawsuit or settlement. Our lawyers may be able to help you recover:

Economic damages:

 Economic damages address direct financial losses resulting from abuse, such as medical expenses, therapy or counseling costs, loss of income or employment opportunities, and any other out-of-pocket expenses related to the abuse.

Non-economic damages:

These damages compensate survivors for the emotional and psychological suffering they endured. They can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible harms.

Punitive damages:

Punitive damages may be awarded to punish the perpetrator and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. These damages are meant to send a strong message that such behavior will not be tolerated.

The extent of compensation can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case, the laws in the jurisdiction, and the financial resources of the perpetrator. Our sexual abuse lawyers can help you understand your legal options and determine the appropriate forms of compensation you should pursue and from whom.

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Differences Between Criminal and Civil Court for Sexual Abuse Cases

In Illinois, sexual offenders can be held accountable for their actions in both criminal and civil courts. While both avenues aim to address wrongdoing, they have distinct purposes, procedures, and outcomes. The differences between criminal and civil court proceedings for sexual abuse cases include:


 The primary purpose of criminal court is to prosecute and punish the perpetrator for violating laws. It focuses on determining guilt and imposing penalties, including imprisonment, fines, probation, or sex offender registration. In civil court, the primary purpose is to seek financial compensation and redress for the harm suffered due to sexual abuse. It aims to provide financial relief to the victim and, in some cases, hold third parties accountable for their role in the abuse.


Criminal cases are initiated by the state or government through a prosecutor who brings charges against the abuser. Civil cases are initiated by the victim (plaintiff) or his or her sex abuse lawyer, who files a lawsuit against the abuser and any other parties who can be held responsible for the abuse.

Standard of Proof:

Criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning the evidence must be strong and convincing to establish guilt. In civil cases, the burden of proof is lower, and the plaintiff must establish the defendant’s liability by a preponderance of evidence, indicating it is more likely than not that the abuse occurred.

Penalties and Remedies:

If the accused is convicted in criminal court, he or she may face incarceration, fines, probation, or other penalties determined by the judge, along with the possibility of sex offender registration. In civil court, successful plaintiffs can recover monetary damages to compensate for various losses, including medical expenses, therapy costs, pain and suffering, and other related financial losses. Additionally, civil cases can hold institutions or third parties accountable for negligence.

Victim's Involvement:

Victims may participate in the criminal process as witnesses, but they do not have control over the prosecution’s decisions or case outcomes. In civil court, victims have more control over the litigation process. They can decide whether to settle, proceed to trial, or drop the case.

Alleged sex offenders do not have to be convicted in criminal court to be held liable in a civil lawsuit. A criminal conviction for the sex crime can, however, be used as evidence to support a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for Sexual Abuse?

Responsibility for sexual abuse can extend to various parties. The primary responsible parties are the perpetrators themselves. However, institutions, organizations, and even government agencies may also be liable if they failed to prevent or respond appropriately to abuse suspected on their premises. 

In cases of workplace harassment, employers and supervisors can be held responsible. Parents or guardians who neglect their duty to protect their children may face legal repercussions. Those who enable or cover up abuse can also be held accountable in court. Other liable parties might include schools, churches, nursing homes, daycare centers, camps, and hospitals. Survivors of abuse may be able to hold these entities accountable in civil court through a sexual abuse lawsuit, premises liability claim, or a negligent security lawsuit.

Holding an Institution Liable for Sexual Assault

Institutions, such as schools, businesses, or organizations, can be held responsible if they failed to protect individuals from sexual assault due to negligence or inadequate safety measures. To establish liability, victims need to demonstrate that the institution had a duty to protect them, breached that duty, and that this breach was a proximate cause of the assault. Victims may seek compensation for the harm they suffered, and successful legal action can also pressure institutions to improve their preventive measures, fostering a safer environment for future visitors.

Did a negligent organization allow your sexual assault to occur? Call Ankin Law at (312) 600-0000 to seek justice. Free consultation.

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    Types of Sexual Abuse Claims

    Sexual abuse can manifest in various situations, each causing significant physical, emotional, and psychological harm. Common types of sexual abuse cases include:

    Child Sexual Abuse

    Child sexual abuse involves the exploitation of minors for sexual gratification. It can occur within families, schools, religious institutions, sports groups, or other organized settings. Legal claims often focus on proving that the abuse took place and holding the perpetrator accountable, which may include both criminal and civil proceedings.

    Workplace Sexual Harassment

    This type of abuse occurs in a professional environment, where an employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, comments, or conduct by a colleague, supervisor, or employer. Victims may file claims against the abuser to seek compensation and stop the harassment, while employers can also be held liable for failing to address or prevent such behavior.

    General Sexual Assault

    Sexual assault involves non-consensual sexual contact or activity. These cases arise from attacks that occur in public or private settings against a non-consenting adult. Claims for sexual assault may be brought against the perpetrator, and they can result in criminal charges and civil lawsuits.

    Campus Sexual Assault

    In a university or college setting, allegations of sexual assault can give rise to campus disciplinary proceedings and civil lawsuits. Title IX regulations require institutions to address such cases and, if they fail to do so properly, they can be held liable for mishandling the allegations.

    Religious Institutions and Clergy Abuse

    This involves sexual abuse perpetrated by figures within religious organizations. Victims may sue the institution for failing to protect them and for harboring abusive clergy. Numerous cases have been brought against various religious institutions, resulting in substantial settlements.

    Sexual Abuse in Sports Organizations

    Sexual abuse claims can arise in sports organizations, particularly concerning young athletes. These claims often allege that coaches, trainers, or other officials engaged in abusive behavior. Victims may seek compensation for damages and hold both the abuser and the organization accountable.

    Sexual Abuse in Healthcare

    Healthcare providers may engage in sexual abuse or misconduct towards their patients. Victims can bring claims against the individual healthcare worker and the medical institution, arguing that they failed to protect them from harm.

    Elder Sexual Abuse

    Elder sexual abuse involves the mistreatment of vulnerable elderly individuals. This can occur in nursing homes, care facilities, or even within families. Legal action may be taken to protect the elderly and hold the responsible parties accountable.

    Sex Trafficking and Exploitation

    Victims of sex trafficking and exploitation may bring claims against the traffickers and those who enable or profit from such activities. These cases often focus on criminal prosecutions, but victims may also seek compensation through civil lawsuits.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Abuse Cases


    Will I Have to See My Abuser in Court?

    In sexual abuse cases in Illinois, victims may need to see their abuser in court if the case goes to trial. However, there are mechanisms to minimize contact, such as using screens or testifying via video, to help protect the victim’s emotional well-being.


    How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Sexual Abuse Lawyer?

    The cost of hiring a sexual abuse lawyer in Illinois can vary based on the length of the case, attorney fees, and the payment structure. Most injury lawyers will work on a contingency fee basis, where they only get paid if the case is successful. Others may charge hourly or require an upfront retainer. Fees for the sexual abuse attorneys at Ankin Law are contingent upon the success of the case.


    How Long Do I Have to Sue for Sexual Abuse?

    In Illinois, the statute of limitations for bringing sexual abuse cases was removed in 2013. Previously, victims had 20 years to bring a case. Now, survivors of abuse can come forward at any time. Associated claims, such as those for negligent security cases, may still have deadlines, however.

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    Helpful Resources From Our Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawyers

    Sexual abuse survivors seeking damages can recover economic, non-economic, and, in some cases, punitive damages. Economic damages cover the financial burden of abuse, while non-economic damages compensate for the human cost. Victims may bring lawsuits against perpetrators and others liable, like employers. Settlements vary depending on injuries, expenses, and liability. Survivors may consult experienced attorneys, who typically work on a contingency fee basis. In personal injury cases, victims can seek economic damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and more, while non-economic damages address pain, suffering, and emotional distress. In extreme cases, punitive damages can be awarded to punish the perpetrator.

    Intentional torts differ from negligent torts, as they involve actions with the intent to cause harm. Victims of intentional torts can recover compensatory damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and more. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the wrongdoer. While settlements in intentional tort cases depend on factors like the severity of injuries and expenses, insurance rarely covers intentional acts, so victims and their attorneys must sue the perpetrator directly. Personal injury lawyers assist in pursuing maximum compensation, helping victims decide between settlement and trial. The absence of insurance can streamline negotiations, but trials can be lengthy and costly.

    Intentional torts are unlawful actions committed intentionally, such as battery, assault, false imprisonment, and trespassing. Victims can pursue damages through a civil action, but criminal charges often accompany these cases. Unlike negligence, where liability results from failing to use reasonable care, intentional torts involve deliberate harm. Victims may recover damages including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages, aimed at punishing defendants, may also be awarded.