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Three Tips to Consider if You Fear You May Be Accused of Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment

In the midst of the news onslaught about the Harvey Weinstein-Bill O’Reily-Donald Trump-Roger Ailes-et cetera-et cetera-ad nauseam sexual assault scandals, one concept has crossed my mind, namely the often blurry line between a civil and a criminal sexual assault case. Some of the allegations alleged against these men could easily be prosecutable as crimes in my state (California). I should know, having represented clients in numerous civil and criminal sexual assault and harassment cases. In fact, in my criminal law practice, I have concentrated on defending men accused of raping, assaulting, abusing, kidnapping, and even murdering their girlfriends, domestic partners, spouses and children. My clients hail from all socio-economic strata. Yes Dorothy, it’s not only poor people who are accused of committing these crimes.

To lawyers I know who also are in the trenches, the current allegations against these powerful men are hardly news. I’m sure my colleagues agree that these types of cases and stories won’t go away any time soon. Because they have always been here. They are happening everywhere, all the time. It’s safe to say that we will most likely see many more of them as consciousness continues to raise amongst the ongoing #metoo postings, as more victims come forward, and as others are implicated in enabling or covering up the misconduct.

So here are three tips I suggest to all people (men and women) who are concerned that they may be accused of civil or criminal sexual harassment or sexual assault, or of aiding and abetting one as the case may be:

Tip №1: Do not delete any emails, electronic communications, voice mails, or social media posts that in any way relate to your relationship to the victim, the perpetrator, or what allegedly happened: the knee-jerk reaction many people have who are frightened is to delete and cover up. DON’T. Depending on what you delete, this could be considered obstruction of justice and make your “situation” even worse.

Tip №2: Don’t post anything in social media, write any emails or (non)electronic communications about the incident, the victim, your involvement, or your feelings about what happened. And, don’t speak to anyone about what happened. From here on out, mum’s the word. The only person you should discuss the incident with is your lawyer, or your priest if you have one.

Tip №3: Find a lawyer you can trust, one you feel safe enough with to tell everything to — not only the gritty details of what happened, but also your entire life story, the good, the bad, the ugly. Find someone you feel you can open up to, who you feel understands you, because the best lawyers I know will need that level of openness and communication from you in order to do their best work. They will need to understand not just what happened, but all about the circumstances in your life that led you here, to this place in time, where you are facing horrific allegations which may or may not be true.