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Case Study: Creative Investigation & Evidence Gathering in Civil Sexual Assault Case Leads to Justice

Case Study: Creative Investigation & Evidence Gathering in Civil Sexual Assault Case Leads to Justice

Victims of sexual assault face many obstacles in their quest for justice, especially when it comes to alleged offenders being charged and convicted for their crimes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

But even when criminal proceedings prove fruitless or are nonexistent, sexual assault victims have grounds to pursue civil claims to recover the justice and compensation they deserve.

As Biren Law Group has shown, positioning a civil sexual assault claim for a just resolution, particularly after failed criminal proceedings, requires Plaintiffs’ attorneys to double down on their persistency and explore creative ways to investigate and gather evidence.

Case Facts

Biren Law Group’s case involved Jane Doe, a young female victim who was sexually assaulted by a wealthy, older family friend.

Prior to Biren Law Group becoming involved, the case was largely stagnant. Despite strong evidence, the criminal trial did not secure a conviction and instead ended with a hung jury. Notably, all female jurors voted to acquit the Defendant while all male jurors voted to convict.

In the criminal case, female jurors did not believe Jane Doe was a victim because of her looks and because the Defendant was wealthy. Further complicating the matter, the Defendant was best friends with the victim’s father, and the parents took the side of the Defendant over their own daughter.

Following the hung jury, the District Attorney plead the Defendant out on minor criminal charges.

Because the Defendant pleaded No Contest (a plea by which a criminal defendant accepts conviction but does not admit guilt), these minor charges were of no benefit to civil proceedings. As a result, prior counsel in the civil case was unable to obtain any offer and ultimately abandoned the case.

Creative Evidence Gathering & Ruthless Investigation Position Case for a Just Resolution

After being retained by the Plaintiff, Biren Law Group ordered and reviewed all transcripts from the criminal trial. This was a tedious but crucial task, as statements made by the Defendant during the criminal case were given under oath and were therefore impeachable.

In civil cases with parallel criminal proceedings, it is wise for Plaintiffs’ attorneys to obtain and review all trial transcripts and documentation from those cases – not only for the fact that it offers a complete and cost-free investigation, but also because it provides ample opportunity to find evidence of a Defendant or Witness compromising their credibility or committing perjury.

Of note in this case was the Defendant claiming he had never engaged in prior acts like the assault, that he was a man of faith, that he never cheated on his wife, and that any admissions of wrongdoing were void because he had never done anything like the assault before and was merely trying to make the Plaintiff feel better.

The Persistent Search for Witnesses

Given the sensitive nature of the case and because the Defendant would have to produce significant cash to resolve the claim without insurance, litigation was contentious and combative.

Biren Law Group chose not to take deposition at the start of the case, but instead chose to meticulously phone interview and speak with anyone who knew the Defendant. This included friends, family, and his fellow churchgoers.

While the strategy proved difficult initially, Biren Law Group was able to strike gold when they located a witness who frequented brothels and purchased prostitutes with the Defendant. The witness signed a declaration confirming he participated in visits to brothels and having sex with prostitutes with the Defendant.

A Game-Changing Discovery

One good witness or piece of evidence is helpful, but it alone is not enough to hammer the defense. This is particularly true in cases of sexual assault and rape, as there is typically no available insurance and the Defendant is confronted with very difficult and scandalous allegations for which they are unlikely to accept, or even appear as though they accept, fault.

Biren Law Group kept diving deeper. Driven by the existing evidence indicating the Defendant was in fact a sexual predator who likely had prior bad behavior, the strategy became one of persistence. Every person possible in the Defendant’s life was approached.

Eventually, Biren Law Group was able to track down the Defendant’s former 65-year-old nanny. After deliberating, she decided to come forward under oath with a harrowing story describing how the Defendant sexually assaulted and raped her a decade earlier. Some of the details were very similar to Jane Doe’s case.

Biren Law Group continued the investigation and eventually discovered stories about missions to Mexico where the defendant engaged in inappropriate relations with minors and orphans. Multiple individuals who used to attend church with the Defendant, who was not the head of the church, provided specific details as to the alleged crimes in Mexico.

At the time Biren Law Group had taken over, there were zero offers. But discovery of this additional evidence would drastically alter the trajectory of the case.

Mediation

At mediation, Biren Law Group went the extra mile to make it clear the Defendant was in trouble.

The Plaintiff arrived at mediation with an armed guard and a note to the Defendant and his wife, who was present at mediation, advising that the Plaintiff was in an extremely vulnerable state and not to be approached. This sent a message to the Defendant that he would not be able to skirt justice as easily as he had done in his criminal case.

In addition, numerous copies of the settlement brief, which detailed all of the Defendant’s bad actions as told by the witnesses, were printed and brought to the mediation. To ensure all parties in attendance were aware of how significantly bad the evidence had become, copies of the brief were distributed to the Defendant’s counsel, the Defendant, and the Defendant’s family.

The Defendant, who was originally emboldened by the hung jury and who made no offer or attempt to resolve the case before Biren Law Group took over, had emergency conversations with his wife and financial advisers at mediation, which led to the immediate sale of the Defendant’s seven-figure vacation home to satisfy the settlement.

Ultimately, the case was settled at mediation for a confidential, substantial sum.

Key Lessons from This Case

For Plaintiffs and the attorneys who represent them, civil sexual assault claims can be a powerful mechanism for obtaining justice – even when other systems of justice fail at that same purpose.

At Biren Law Group, we believe this particular case provides meaningful lessons about the power of persistence and the need to pound pavement and cast a wide net to find what you are looking for.

Additionally, while e-mails or texts may have their utility in cases, live and real-time communications may be more prudent when it comes to investigation. Had Biren Law Group not spoken with witnesses on the phone, where the witnesses could hear what happened first-hand without being able to easily ignore, it is unlikely that any of the damning evidence would have been acquired.

In cases like these, it is important to keep pushing. Though Biren Law Group could have stopped after obtaining the witness declaration, the investigation continued. One good piece of evidence became several pieces of strong evidence, and ultimately the support for a narrative that could withstand even the most conflicted views and imperfect opinions of people who comprise our juries.

At Biren Law Group, our Father-Son legal team is passionate about helping victims fight for justice, especially when their voices have been muted by forces outside of their control. If you have questions about our firm, our areas of practice, or how we may be able to assist in a potential case, call or contact us online.

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