Will We Win the Case?

Sexual assault can be difficult to prove. There are no guarantees of winning a civil lawsuit. There are usually no witnesses. The alleged offender may claim that the survivor actually consented to the sexual assault, deny that the abuse occurred, blame the survivor, or rationalize their own conduct. These factors often compound the anxiety of going to court and telling the world what happened.

Before having a survivor of sexual assault go through this process, a lawyer will first decide if there is a realistic chance of winning the case. The lawyer must be able to prove on a balance of probability (i.e., more likely yes than no) that the assault occurred and that damage was suffered. There is no true consent if it is obtained by threats, intimidation, or through breach of trust.

Evidence is an important part of winning a case. Although there may be no eyewitness proof of a sexual assault, there can be other corroborating evidence. Perhaps the survivor told a friend, family member or health care professional of the assaults. In some instances, there may be evidence in the form of letters or diaries that the survivor kept during the abuse. The alleged offender may have a history of abuse, relevant medical or psychological history, or a tendency to violence. If the offender has been criminally convicted, this will help the survivor's case.

In reality the vast majority of civil cases do not end up in a trial. Rather they are settled out of court. The amount of the settlement depends on the strength of the case and the damages which the survivor has suffered.

Date

Type

Title

Related People

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October 2022

Article

The Problem with Class Actions for Historical Sexual Abuse Cases

Loretta P. Merritt

August 2022

Presentation

Confidentiality Agreements

Aug 2022 OTLA webinar 

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2022

Presentation

Sexual Assault Proceedings

John Howard Society Learning Session 

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2022

Presentation

Criminal and Civil Legal Proceedings

Abuse Hurts Hope Conference Series: LEARN

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2022

Article

The New Tort of Family Violence

Money & Family Law Publication

Loretta P. Merritt

January 2022

Article

NDAs and Gag Orders in Sexual Misconduct Cases

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2021

Presentation

Ontario Trial Lawyers – Women Lawyers Roundtable: Effective Business Development

November 2021

Presentation

The Psychologist as Expert Witness: Report Writing and Testifying

Ontario Psychological Association’s 74th Annual Conference

Loretta P. Merritt

November 2021

Article

Institutional Response to Disclosure of Sexual Abuse

Loretta P. Merritt

August 2021

Article

Privacy in Civil Sexual Assault Cases

Loretta P. Merritt

June 2021

Article

Summary of Ontario Class Actions for Historical Abuse

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2021

Presentation

Practicing in the Pandemic: The New Normal

OTLA Spring Conference

Loretta P. Merritt

April 2021

Presentation

Making the Most of Expert Evidence

OTLA Webinar

Loretta P. Merritt

March 2021

Article

Economic Losses in Civil Sexual Assault Cases

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

February 2021

Presentation

Civil Sexual Assault: Critical and Emerging Issues

Osgoode Professional Development

Loretta P. Merritt

February 2021

Presentation

Mentoring

Torkin Manes

Loretta P. Merritt

February 2021

Presentation

Compensation and Financial Management

Torkin Manes - Justicia Committee

Loretta P. Merritt

January 2021

Presentation

Imposter Syndrome

Torkin Manes - Justicia Committee

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2020

Presentation

Financial Management of Your Practice

Torkin Manes

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2020

Article

Publication Bans: Do They Help or Hurt Abuse Survivors?

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

December 2020

Presentation

Litigating Class Actions Claims Amidst Profound Change

12th Annual Class Actions Colloquium presented by the Canadian Bar Association

Loretta P. Merritt

October 2020

Presentation

Sexual Abuse: Developing a Claim for Vicarious Liability

OTLA 2020 Fall Conference

Loretta P. Merritt

July 2020

Presentation

Civil Sexual Assault - Practical Considerations - Civil litigation and other options beyond criminal charges

OTLA Webinar

Loretta P. Merritt

July 2020

Article

School Board Liability for Sexual Assaults by Teacher

Torkin Manes LegalPoint

Loretta P. Merritt

May 2020

Presentation

Girao v. Cunningham: Latest Word on Trial Evidence by the Ontario Court of Appeal

Torkin Manes

Loretta P. Merritt

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Loretta P. Merritt quoted by <em>The New York Times</em> on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal

by Melissa Partland | Nov 01, 2021
Loretta P. Merritt was quoted by The New York Times on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.

Loretta P. Merritt was quoted by The New York Times on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.


With Accusations of Abuse, Kyle Beach Forces N.H.L. to Confront Its Failings

The cultural problems of hockey seem to have met a moment that makes them impossible to ignore, and when consequences — however belatedly — are finally being meted out.

One day after an investigation commissioned by the Chicago Blackhawks publicly disclosed that the team’s top officials had ignored a player’s accusation of sexual assault by a coach during the 2010 playoffs, that player was revealed to be Kyle Beach.

Organizations that ignored or cover up reports of sexual assault are not unique to hockey. But these problems can be heightened in hockey, or in other sports that Loretta Merritt, a Canadian lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse, described as the “more macho boys club kind of sports.” Merritt wondered if hockey’s culture made Aldrich, who has said his sexual contact with Beach was consensual, “think there is sort of more of a tolerance or willingness to turn a blind eye. Possibly.”

To read the full article, please visit The New York Times' website.

Loretta P. Merritt quoted by <em>The New York Times</em> on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal

by Melissa Partland | Nov 01, 2021
Loretta P. Merritt was quoted by The New York Times on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.

Loretta P. Merritt was quoted by The New York Times on the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.


With Accusations of Abuse, Kyle Beach Forces N.H.L. to Confront Its Failings

The cultural problems of hockey seem to have met a moment that makes them impossible to ignore, and when consequences — however belatedly — are finally being meted out.

One day after an investigation commissioned by the Chicago Blackhawks publicly disclosed that the team’s top officials had ignored a player’s accusation of sexual assault by a coach during the 2010 playoffs, that player was revealed to be Kyle Beach.

Organizations that ignored or cover up reports of sexual assault are not unique to hockey. But these problems can be heightened in hockey, or in other sports that Loretta Merritt, a Canadian lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse, described as the “more macho boys club kind of sports.” Merritt wondered if hockey’s culture made Aldrich, who has said his sexual contact with Beach was consensual, “think there is sort of more of a tolerance or willingness to turn a blind eye. Possibly.”

To read the full article, please visit The New York Times' website.