Evidence in DC Civil Sexual Abuse Case

John Yannone explains what evidence can be presented and admitted in civil sexual abuse or assault claims in DC court. He also discusses how attorneys may collect evidence to build a strong case.

What Type of Evidence Do You Present in a Sexual Abuse Claims Case?

You’re going to present the victim and his or her experience. You’re going to present evidence of those around them who perhaps didn’t know what occurred but saw a change; we call them a “before and after” witness because they knew the person before and knew the person after, and can testify to any changes, problems, or anything that was going on. When sexual abuse is not reported and people suffer psychological trauma, they go to their therapist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist, and they don’t talk about exactly what happened until they’re comfortable coming out with it.

So in the meantime, in the eyes of the therapist or observer there’s a lot going on with the victim without a particular context. Once the victim reveals what occurred, the context becomes what happened to them, and these changes start to make sense, like why they had these psychological problems, or why they didn’t perform as well in school, or at their work, or in their relationships, or anywhere else.

So this is the evidence that has to come out. Next, you have medical experts who are specialists in trauma  and can say that this is a very typical presentation of what victims can exhibit when they go through this kind of abuse. Then, you have to present what the treatment has been, what treatment is needed currently, and what treatment will be needed in the future. So it can be witness intensive to corroborate not only the incident but also what they have gone through as a result of it.

How Do You Collect Evidence to Build a Sex Abuse Claims Case?

Well, we do our own investigation. We build the strongest liability case we can in terms of what establishes the duty for whatever the liability is going to be in the case. Typically, the damages somewhat speak for themselves, and you have medical experts to come in and testify to those. They include the doctors treating the victims, as well as forensic medical experts used to tie everything together. In terms of the liability, many times you have to have experts to establish what the duty was and what the breach was in order to make your strongest liability case.