We help victims of rape and sexual assault fight back.

Too often, sexual attackers get away with it. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, there are over 300,000 victims of sexual assault each year in the United States. Sadly, many attackers escape the criminal justice system—the overwhelming majority of rapists are never imprisoned. We help victims use the civil justice system to hold sexual attackers and their enablers accountable.

Standing up to a sexual attacker is hard.  Calling a law firm about a rape or sexual assault takes bravery. We admire our clients who have found the strength to come forward. Many of our clients say that they called us so that what happened to them wouldn’t happen to anyone else. That is courage.

Preventing Rape and Sexual Assault

Often, rape or sexual assault at apartment complexes or other businesses can be prevented by commonsense security measures. Businesses like apartments, hotels, or clubs should have enough lights, gates, and security guards to protect residents, customers, and their guests. Georgia law requires that business owners take reasonable measures to protect the people invited onto their property. Sturbridge Partners Ltd. v. Walker, 267 Ga. 785, 787 (1997).  Apartment or business owners who know about previous crime on the property should take extra steps to make sure that they aren’t placing their residents and customers—from whom the owners are making money, after all—at risk of sexual violence or other crimes.

Institutions like treatment centers, schools, and churches should also take steps to make sure that their patients, students, and members aren’t in danger of rape or sexual assault. The steps are simple. Institutions should run background checks and hire the right people.  After hiring the right people, institutions should train and supervise them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen—and when it doesn’t, victims can hold institutions responsible for negligent hiring, negligent training, or negligent supervision. See Allen v. Zion Baptist Church of Braselton, 328 Ga. App. 208, 212-15 (2014). Our firm has handled cases against a psychological treatment facility where an employee raped a minor patient, against schools where teachers sexually assaulted or molested students, and against churches where a pastor committed statutory rape against his own members. None of that should ever happen. If it does, we hold the responsible parties accountable.

Criminal Prosecutions vs. Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Assault or Rape

The criminal and civil justice systems are different. Most people are more familiar with the criminal justice system because it is featured on television shows like Law and Order and Matlock. In the criminal justice system, the state or federal government brings a case against an individual person. The government may prosecute a defendant for O.C.G.A. § 16-6-1 (rape), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.1 (sexual assault), O.C.G.A. § 16 6-22.1 (sexual battery), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5.1 (sexual contact between teacher and student), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-4 (child molestation), O.C.G.A. § 16-6-5 (enticing a child), or O.C.G.A. § 16-6-3 (statutory rape). In order for the state or federal government to win at trial, the government must prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  If the defendant pleads guilty or is convicted, the defendant is likely to serve time in prison.

In the civil justice system—the area in which the Butler Law Firm works—an individual person who has been harmed or wronged can bring a case against the person or business who committed the wrong. The person bringing this lawsuit specifies, in a document called a “Complaint,” what was done to harm him or her. Such claims could include the crimes referred to above (i.e., rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual contact between teacher and student, child molestation, enticing a child, or statutory rape) or additional claims such as negligent hiring, negligent training, or negligent supervision. To win at trial, the harmed person must prove his or her case by what the law calls the “preponderance of evidence,” which means “more likely than not.” If the harmed person wins at trial or if the defendant settles, then the person who was harmed is normally entitled to monetary compensation. In certain cases, the court can enter an “injunction,” a special order that gives the defendant a specific directive. For instance, our firm has sought an injunction to prevent a sexually abusive pastor from ever preaching again.

Sex Crimes in Georgia: Punishment for Sexual Assault or Rape

The criminal code has strict definitions and punishments for sexual assault, rape, and other sex crimes. Aggressors can be charged with sexual assault, statutory rape, sodomy, and sexual battery. In Georgia, a person commits the crime of sexual battery when he intentionally makes contact with the intimate parts of someone else’s body without consent. As defined in O.C.G.A. § 16-6- 22.1, “intimate parts mean the primary genital area, anus, groin, inner thighs, or buttocks of a male or female and the breasts of a female.”

These rules can be enforced in civil cases as well. Further, property owners must provide adequate security for their customers or tenants. Georgia imposes a “non-delegable duty”—meaning that the duty can’t be passed on to someone else—on property owners to provide reasonable safety measures. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1. Property owners must “exercise reasonable care to make the premises safe” for customers, tenants, or tenants’ guests. Robinson v. Kroger, 268 Ga. 735, 741 (1997). Institutions like treatment centers, schools, and churches must provide reasonable safety through their hiring, training, and supervision programs. O.C.G.A. § 34-7-20; Allen v. Zion Baptist Church of Braselton, 328 Ga. App. 208, 212-15 (2014).

PornHub, XVideos, xHamster, XNXX: Exploitation, Revenge Porn, and Underage or Nonconsensual Pornographic Videos

When a nonconsensual pornographic video is uploaded to a “porn tube” site like PornHub, XVideos, xHamster, or XNXX, the consequences can haunt victims for years.

Too often, these porn tube sites refuse to remove nonconsensual pornography from their websites. Even if they do remove a video, they may allow it to be uploaded again later. The embarrassment or shame that victims feel about these videos can last for the rest of their lives. Victims must live each day wondering what present or future romantic partners, children, employers, or clients will think – or are thinking – if they’ve seen “that video.” Victims may be ridiculed or ostracised. Many victims turn to drugs. Some attempt suicide.

This needs to stop. We aren’t talking here about pornographic actors who are of legal age and decide of their own free will to make pornographic videos for compensation. That practice is legal and as lawyers, we don’t challenge it. We do stand against nonconsensual pornography that porn tube websites feature and profit from.

Some of these videos show the worst types of sexual exploitation – rapes and sexual assaults. Others show videos of underage victims, or of women who were promised that the videos they made would not be published online. Others show videos from secret cameras installed in showers or dressing rooms. Others show “revenge porn” in which a former sexual partner uploads sexual videos to the internet to hurt a former partner. Some videos show women who made a single error in judgment – maybe beliving a promise that the video would only be distributed in other countries in DVD format – and then have to spend the rest of their lives haunted by a single mistake. That is not okay.

The legal liability of porntube sites like PornHub, XVideos, xHamster, or XNXX is not perfectly clear. This is an area of the law that is changing. For years, porn tube companies hid behind the so-called “Communications Decency Act” of 1996, which largely absolved them for liability for videos or images that a user uploaded, but that may not help them anymore. In 2018, Congress amended Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to allow certain bad actors (such as Backpage.com) to be held accountable for the sexual exploitation it was enabling and profiting from. See 47 U.S.C. § 230. Those amendments may also allow victims to hold PornHub, XVideos, xHamster, XNXX, and other websites like them accountable for the nonconsensual videos that those websites are profiting from. The relatively recent Trafficking Victims Protection Act may also make a porn tube site liable if it “knowingly benefits” from hosting nonconsensual pornographic videos. See 18 U.S.C. § 1595.

Lawyer Explains Nonconsensual Videos on Porn Tube Websites

Representing Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault

We understand how severe the effects of sexual assault can be, and we understand how sensitive the issues are for our clients. All potential clients who call our firm are entitled to attorney-client confidentiality under Bar Rule 1.6, even if we do not formally represent them. We understand that some of our clients want to publicly identify their attackers, and others want to keep their names confidential. Those wishes should be honored.

Sexual violence takes away a sense of security that may never be fully recovered. If you are reading this page because you or someone you love has been a victim of rape or sexual assault, we are sorry. We hope the page has been helpful.