We can all agree that sexual assault committed by anyone is unacceptable. However, what we often do not consider is how certain institutions condone or allow sexual assault to continue. There are some institutions or people who choose to turn a blind eye while sexual assault is taking place. You do not have to travel too far to see examples of people choosing to ignore sexual assault at the workplace. Look at the entertainment industry. NBC, one of the most popular channels on television, must respond to sexual assault allegations made against one of their most popular shows, Saturday Night Live.
Last year, a woman filed a lawsuit against former Saturday Night Live (SNL) star Horatio Sanz for grooming and groping her when she was a minor. Now, Jane Doe has named additional defendants in her lawsuit, who she alleges enabled Sanz’s behavior. The defendants named are other SNL personalities Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels, and Tracy Morgan.
Jane Doe alleges that from 2000 to 2002, she and her friends regularly attended the show’s afterparties and were provided alcohol by Fallon. At the times Jane Doe attended these parties, she was 15 to 17 years old. Although Fallon was aware that she was underage, she alleged that she was still given alcohol.
Jane Doe also alleges that Morgan rented out a space for one of the afterparties where Sanz groped her without her consent. Doe plans to hold all liable parties at NBC accountable for enabling and condoning Sanz’s behavior. She states that she has suffered “lifelong trauma” because of the sexual assault.
In Jane Doe’s lawsuit, she alleges that she was introduced to Jimmy Fallon after he reached out to her for developing a fan website. From that connection, she alleges that Sanz began to groom her and invite her out to tapings of the show.
How Sanz harassed Jane Doe online
The contact between Sanz and Jane Doe did not end when the two were not in the same room at SNL tapings or after parties. In fact, the lawsuit filed by Doe alleges that Sanz aggressively messaged her using the instant messaging services AIM from AOL. The lawsuit states that the messages sent by Sanz via AIM were: “sexual experiences, sexual activities, sexual fantasies, masturbation and Sanz’s instruction of plaintiff in sexual acts.” He also allegedly told Doe, “Don’t tell anybody. Promise?”
Doe was able to disconnect from Sanz once she went to college, but claims that the two ran into each other in 2019. During this encounter, Sanz reportedly told Doe that he would masturbate when he sent messages to her via AIM. Later in 2019, Doe claims that Sanz sent her apologetic and remorseful text messages, claiming that he was “very sorry,” “very dumb,” and a “wounded creep.”
The complaint goes on to say that Sanz told Doe “If you want to metoo me you have every right. Just believe me I’m not like that anymore.” In other messages, he allegedly said, “I was very immature and had very limited sexual awareness.”
What does online harassment/stalking look like?
Victims of online harassment/stalking experience different things. Cyber stalking is not a catch-all. It can include any of the following:
- Creating fake accounts online to follow the victim
- Joining the same groups and forums as the victim to monitor what they say and post
- Threaten to release pictures of the victim or their confidential information
- Send lewd, violent, or threatening messages to the victim
- Posting offensive, lewd, or suggestive comments online about the victim
- Send multiple messages to the target
- Send the target unwanted gifts
- Overwhelm the victim with unwanted photos of the stalker, most often nude photos
- Create fake posts that are geared towards intimidating and shaming the target
- Hack into the computer of the target to control their computer’s camera
What damages Jane Doe can seek in the sexual assault lawsuit against Sanz?
Jane Doe can recover compensatory damages in her sexual assault lawsuit that include the following:
- Medical expenses
- The costs for a hospital stay
- Physical and emotional scars
- Treatments for physical or emotional damage
- Relocation expenses
- Emotional distress and pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Physical disfigurement
- Mental anxiety
Jane Doe and other victims of sexual assault can also recover non-tangible damages in lawsuits. This type of damage does not have a number attached to it like bills for medical care. Non-tangible damages are often related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain and suffering. Other damages that fall into this category include the following:
- Damage to the reputation of the victim
- Emotional distress
- The loss of enjoyment of life for the victim
Loss of companionship and consortium with a spouse, children, other family members, and friends
Recovering punitive damages in a sexual assault case
Victims of sexual assault can also recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded by the judge in your case as a method of punishing the defendant for their actions. You can pursue punitive damages if the actions of the defendant were malicious, willful, or oppressive. You might be able to hold multiple parties accountable when it comes to punitive damages, including any business, or institution that failed to report allegations of sexual assault or who made it possible for the defendant to sexually assault you.
What are warning signs of sexual abuse in teenagers?
Jane Doe was a teenager when the abuse began. Unlike with much younger children, adolescents and older teens may exhibit different signs of abuse or assault. Parents need to be aware of the signs that teenage children present if they have been sexually assaulted or abused, which include the following:
- Excessively talking about sexual topics
- Developing an STD
- Unexplained bleeding
- Trauma to the pelvic region
- Being scared when away from home
- Not wanting to be left alone with a specific person
- Regressive behaviors
- Behavior that has become overly compliant
- Significant change in eating habits
- Excessive fearfulness or worry
- Sudden behaviors of self harm
- A decrease in previous interests or activities with friends
At Taylor & Ring, we have the experience and the resources to help victims of sex abuse, no matter how high profile their abusers are. We are ready and willing to hold all institutions liable for failing to act in your best interest. Please call our Los Angeles sex abuse attorneys at 310-776-6390, or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.