Indecent exposure is a type of sexual assault that is punishable as a crime in Missouri. But victims also have the right to pursue civil damages against the individuals who engaged in this conduct or allowed it to happen. Privette Law Office represents victims of indecent exposure in seeking the monetary compensation they deserve. Whether the perpetrator has been convicted in criminal court or not, talk to us today.
What Is Indecent Exposure in Southern Missouri?
The crime of indecent exposure covers several public sexual behaviors, including the following:
- Exposing one’s genitals under circumstances in which the perpetrator knows that his or her conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm
- Engaging in sexual contact in the presence of a third person or persons under circumstances in which the perpetrator knows that such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm
- Having sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse in a public place in the presence of a third person
While indecent exposure can be and often is sexual in nature, it isn’t always. For example, public urination could meet the definition, especially where it is done intentionally in front of a group of onlookers. Other examples are public masturbation and exposing one’s genitals to others suddenly (known commonly as “flashing”).
Indecent exposure is especially grievous when children are involved. Although such behavior is a crime regardless of who the witnesses are, Missouri judges will severely punish indecent exposure when a child is present.
The Trauma of Indecent Exposure
Everyone has the right to be in public without fear that someone will expose themselves or engage in sexually offensive conduct in their presence. This is especially the case with parents and their young children, who are sometimes deliberately targeted for this behavior.
Indecent exposure is therefore a violation of one’s sense of security and well-being. In many cases, these crimes occur near walking trails, wooded areas, or otherwise secluded locations and with few if any other people around. Victims rightly fear that they or a loved one may be sexually assaulted during the process. This makes indecent exposure a serious offense.
Victims are initially shocked and offended when confronted by indecent exposure. But this can develop into genuine psychological trauma due to the alarm, distress, and feeling that one’s safety has been jeopardized. Victims of all ages may experience the following, among other issues:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance abuse
- Sleep disorders
- Eating disorders
When children are victims, the effects can be even more pronounced. It is not uncommon for child victims to suffer long-term behavioral and psychological issues stemming from this form of sexual assault.
Damages Related to Indecent Exposure
The criminal courts can see to it that an individual who is convicted of indecent exposure is punished accordingly. But criminal courts do not generally award monetary compensation to the victims. This is where civil courts play a vital role. Depending on the circumstances, a victim of indecent exposure can ask a court to order the responsible parties to pay compensation for:
- Psychological counseling, therapy, and other mental health treatment
- Prescription drug medication to treat anxiety, depression, and other disorders
- Lost wages due to inability to work or time needed to obtain treatment
- Lost future wages if the victim is unable to return to the same job or work in the same capacity
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
Quantifying these and other damages can be difficult. For instance, many victims will suffer career problems due to the psychological distress of being victimized. Calculating the amount of lost wages and other work-related benefits means reasonably estimating future damages. Expert witnesses are routinely used to assess the sum total of a victim’s losses – past, present, and future – and assign a dollar figure that fairly covers them.
Who Is Responsible By Southern Missouri Law
Perpetrators of sexual assault – including indecent exposure – can personally be held liable for the above damages. But these individuals often lack the resources to fully compensate victims. The reality of sexual assault crimes is generally more complex than this. There are often other individuals or entities who are responsible for these crimes. Examples include:
- Business establishments. Businesses are responsible for ensuring that their patrons are reasonably safe from sexual assault crimes. In many cases, indecent exposure happens because of unsafe conditions around the business such as poor lighting.
- Property owners and managers. These parties can also be held liable for similar reasons. For example, the company that owns or manages a mall may have been negligent in failing to provide ample parking lot security.
- Schools and daycares. Since many victims are children, courts naturally expect schools and daycares to keep children safe on their premises. Failure to do so, thereby allowing a child to be subjected to indecent exposure, could be grounds for a civil suit.
- Private security companies. Sometimes, the failure lies with the companies hired to provide private security for businesses, properties, entertainment venues, and other places where this commonly occurs. These companies may themselves be liable.
- Governmental agencies. The government is responsible for taking care of various public properties where indecent exposure happens. For example, a parks and recreation department may be held responsible if the assault occurs on a walking trail. There are different rules for suing governmental entities, so consult an experienced sexual assault injury attorney.
In many cases, multiple parties can be named as defendants. If an out-of-court settlement can be reached with the persons and entities who are responsible, our firm will do so. But we are prepared to take your case to court if necessary.
Contact Our Southern Missouri Indecent Exposure Prosecution Attorney
No one should be subjected to indecent exposure. When you hire Privette Law Office, we start investigating the incident immediately and work to hold all responsible parties liable. To learn more about how we can help you and your family, call us today.