Sexual Assault Versus Sexual Misconduct in Pennsylvania

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

If you are a survivor of sexual assault in Pennsylvania, then you are also a victim of sexual misconduct. The same isn’t true in reverse. Pennsylvania survivors need to know the difference between these terms to have the best chances of getting the justice they deserve.

In Pennsylvania, sexual misconduct is an umbrella term. It encapsulates various non-consensual sexual activity and behavior, including sexual assault. In Pennsylvania, sexual assault is a criminal term that generally refers to rape. While survivors of sexual assault can generally file a civil suit against an abuser in Pennsylvania, victims of other types of sexual misconduct can only sue in certain scenarios. Additionally, certain victims may have to abide by specific requirements and deadlines depending on the type of sexual misconduct they experienced, which is why hiring an attorney is crucial.

Our caring lawyers are dedicated to helping survivors hold abusers accountable. For a free case evaluation with the Pennsylvania sexual assault victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, call today at (814) 826-3586.

How Does Pennsylvania Define Sexual Misconduct?

The terms sexual assault and sexual misconduct can appear synonymous at first, but they are actually quite different. Although there is no legal statute in Pennsylvania that defines sexual misconduct, it is generally understand an umbrella term for various non-consensual or inappropriate sexual behaviors. It’s broad and applies to many different situations.

Sexual misconduct, generally, is an umbrella term that can be attributed to a wide variety of sexual violence or inappropriate behaviors. The following are examples of actions that are considered sexual misconduct:

  • Catcalling
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Consensual or non-consensual sexual behavior initiated by an authority figure
  • Dating violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Knowingly exposing another person to sexually transmitted infections without their consent
  • Offering promotions or favors in exchange for sexual conduct
  • Sending unsolicited nude photos
  • Sending unsolicited emails or texts of a sexual nature
  • Sharing nude photos without consent
  • Stalking and harassment
  • Taking nude photos without consent
  • Rape
  • Retaliation
  • Use of inappropriate sexual language
  • Use of sexually degrading language
  • Unwanted flirting
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Workplace sexual harassment

Essentially, any inappropriate and non-consensual sexual advancements or behaviors can be considered sexual misconduct. This term can apply situations in which individuals experience sexual harassment in the workplace or feel threatened by a co-worker or friend. Because sexual misconduct covers a wide range of behaviors, it can also refer to instances of sexual jokes or emails, or other forms of sex-based discrimination. For example, sexual misconduct can also behaviors that for which there is no legal recourse such as catcalling, but are generally viewed as inappropriate by society.

Since sexual misconduct is an umbrella term, Pennsylvania victims may be unsure whether or not their experience falls under this umbrella. Generally, any sexual actions or advancements that make you uncomfortable, whether intentionally or unintentionally, may be considered sexual misconduct.

What is Considered Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania?

While sexual misconduct is a relatively broad term, referring to all sorts of inappropriate and non-consensual sexual behaviors, sexual assault is the name of a specific crime under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1, but it also refers more generally to any sort of unwanted sexual touching, sexual violence, or rape. It’s important to know the difference so that you can better explain what happened.

That said, many Pennsylvania victims do not press criminal charges against an abuser due to fear or discomfort. If you do not wish to press charges but do wish to get justice through a lawsuit, you may wonder if you can still sue for sexual assault.

While Pennsylvania uses the term sexual assault to define specific criminal acts, the term can also refer to actions that warrant civil litigation in Pennsylvania. It’s also important to note that victims do not have to file criminal charges against an abuser to file a civil suit.

When survivors learn the definition of sexual assault, they may fear they cannot sue if their experience doesn’t meet the necessary criteria under these criminal statutes. In reality, survivors can file a civil case for assault and battery against a defendant for virtually any non-consensual touching. There may also be civil actions you can file for other forms of abuse and sexual misconduct, such as workplace sexual harassment or employment discrimination claims. Our Pennsylvania sexual assault victim attorneys believe that all experiences are valid and that everyone should have the opportunity to get justice.

Filing a Lawsuit for Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania

If you’re a survivor of sexual assault or sexual misconduct in Pennsylvania and wish to file a lawsuit against an abuser, you can. That said, the filing requirements and deadlines may change depending on a defendant’s specific sexual misconduct and a plaintiff’s age, so it’s important to speak with an attorney if you plan to sue.

Filing Deadlines

Generally speaking, adult survivors of sexual assault, including rape, only have two years from the date of injury to sue in Pennsylvania. Child victims of sexual assault generally have much longer to sue, until age 55. In Pennsylvania, there is no special statute of limitations for sexual assault or misconduct for adult survivors.

Reporting Requirements

If you experienced sexual misconduct at work or at school, you might need to report your experience before you can sue. For example, individuals who are victims of workplace sexual harassment need to report it to the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission or the appropriate equivalent federal office within 180 days of the last instance of harassment.

Victims may be unaware of these requirements, so it is important to consult an experienced Pennsylvania sexual misconduct victim attorney if you plan to sue. It’s vital that you take the necessary steps and comply with the necessary reporting requirements so that you can hold an abuser accountable in a lawsuit.

Hiring a Lawyer

Filing a sexual misconduct lawsuit can be overwhelming for survivors of all ages, regardless of their experiences. Every instance of sexual misconduct can be incredibly damaging to victims. Suppose you wish to file a lawsuit and hold a responsible party accountable for their actions. In that case, it’s important to reach out to a compassionate Pennsylvania sexual assault victim attorney capable of helping you achieve justice. Your lawyer can help you successfully file a lawsuit against an abuser in Pennsylvania for sexual misconduct, including sexual assault.

Call Our Pennsylvania Attorneys to File a Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Today

If you’re a survivor of sexual misconduct in any form, reach out to our lawyers. For a free case evaluation with the Pennsylvania sexual assault victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, call today at (814) 826-3586.


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