Sexual Assault: You Can Help Hold Abusers Accountable

In the fight against sexual assault, supporting victims is paramount. Often, one of the best ways to advocate for victims is to encourage them to report the crime and seek the guidance of an experienced sexual assault attorney. 
At Bachus & Schanker, our team is committed to helping victims of sexual assault and related crimes get the justice they deserve. If you have experienced this, we are so sorry that it has happened to you. Or, if you are here on behalf of a loved one, we are still here to help. We are dedicated to helping victims hold their abusers accountable while offering critical resources to assist in their recovery and healing.

Bachus & Schanker Wins – Over $1 Billion Recovered

Home » Practice Areas » Sexual Assault Lawyers » Sexual Assault: You Can Help Hold Abusers Accountable

How Common Is Sexual Abuse in Colorado?

Sexual abuse in Colorado follows the national trend in that it is, unfortunately, severely underreported. According to the most recent data, 1 in 4 Coloradans fall victim to some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports that an overwhelming 42% of victims experience their first rape before the age of 18. 

In an alarming 80% of reported cases, the abuse takes place before the victim reaches 25 years of age. For victims under the age of 18, the likelihood of repeat assaults increases.  


Colorado Sexual Assault Laws

There are two primary categories of sexual assault law in Colorado. They both fall under the criminal code and include C.R.S. 18-3-404 (unlawful sexual contact) and C.R.S. 18-3-402 (sexual assault).

Colorado Unlawful Sexual Contact

C.R.S. 18-3-404 outlines unlawful sexual contact as an event where an actor knowingly subjects a victim to any sexual contact. A violation of this law applies if: 

  • The victim does not consent
  • The actor knows that the victim is incapable of consenting
  • The victim is physically helpless, and the actor knows this, and the victim has not or cannot consent to the behavior
  • An actor has drugged or intoxicated the victim and has severely impaired their ability to appraise or control their conduct
  • A victim is in the custody of the law or detained in a hospital or other institution, and the actor is in a position of authority and abuses that position of authority
  • An actor who engages in medical treatment or an examination of the victim for purposes that are not consistent with reasonable medical practices
  • An actor entices a child to expose his or her genitalia or coerces the child to engage in any sexual contact, intrusion, or penetration with another person for the purpose of the actor’s own sexual gratification

What Is Sexual Assault in Colorado?

C.R.S. 18-3-402 of Colorado’s criminal code outlines violations that fall under sexual assault. A violation occurs if an actor knowingly inflicts sexual penetration on a victim in any manner described in the statute of unlawful sexual contact listed above (C.R.S. 18-3-404). Additional violations of this law include: 

  • At the time of the assault, the victim is less than 15 years old, and the actor is at least four years older than the victim
  • At the time of the assault, the victim is at least 15 years of age but less than 17 years of age, and the actor is at least 10 years older than the victim
  • The victim is physically helpless, and the actor knows they are physically helpless and the victim is unable to consent

How Can You Help Hold Sexual Abusers Accountable?

If your loved one was the victim of a sexual assault, there are ways you can help hold a sexual abuser accountable. Even the smallest actions can make a big difference in a victim’s recovery and their ability to pursue justice. 

Stand Up to Inappropriate Behavior

If you feel safe and can do so, standing up against the abuser, whether it be stopping inappropriate behavior, distancing the victim from the abuser, or offering support to the victim, can make it clear to the abuser that their actions will not be tolerated. 

Be Conscious of Victim-Blaming Behavior

A victim is never to blame for a sexual assault. No matter the circumstances, it is never the responsibility of the victim to be held accountable for the actions of their abuser.

Report Sexual Abuse When You Become Aware

No matter the circumstances of a victim’s abuse, their age, or the nature of the assault, you should always report sexual assault if you become aware of it. 

What Does Accountability for Sexual Assault Look Like?

Although all cases are unique, accountability in sexual assault often looks the same. When a victim has the support of their friends, family, and other loved ones behind them, they have a greater chance to see their abuser held accountable. 

Individual Accountability 

An abuser’s individual accountability surrounding sexual assaults can be one of the hardest for a victim to reconcile with, in part because it requires the abuser to acknowledge their actions. It also requires the law to do its job in holding an abuser accountable. 

Legal Accountability  

Filing a sexual assault lawsuit allows a victim to recover damages that resulted from their abuse. In some cases, the victim can also hold institutions, schools, and workplaces accountable. 

Institutional Accountability via Criminal Charges

Sexual assaults are crimes that can be prosecuted by the state. As such, it’s important to encourage a victim to report the abuse to get the criminal process started. 

How Long Does a Victim of Sexual Abuse Have To Take Action?

As with most criminal and civil matters, victims who want to pursue legal action must do so within the available statute of limitations. There are also different types of legal actions that can be brought against an abuser as well. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes in Colorado?

A statute of limitations is the period of time a victim has to take legal action against a defendant. Some felony sex crimes have a statute of limitations that ranges from 11 to 20 years. There are exceptions to the statute of limitations in cases where DNA evidence is involved, whether the victim was a child, and other circumstances. 

What Are Colorado’s Criminal Charges Against Sex Crimes?

Because sex crimes are regarded as crimes against the state, charges can range from felonies to misdemeanors, with penalties ranging from fines to prison time. In some cases, sexual assaults can be charged as crimes of violence under Colorado’s Revised Statute § 18-1.3-406 and bring with them additional penalties. 

Civil Lawsuits

A civil lawsuit is one way for victims to recover damages. Civil lawsuits hold an abuser and any other parties responsible for the assault by forcing them to cover costs associated with medical bills, treatment costs, loss of work, pain and suffering, and other losses. 

Does an Abuser Have To Be Convicted To File a Civil Lawsuit Against Them?

No, an abuser does not have to be convicted of a crime for a civil lawsuit to be brought against them. Additionally, civil lawsuits have a lower burden of proof as compared to criminal cases. 

The standard of proof applied in civil cases is known as “preponderance of the evidence” and details that the plaintiff must show — with compelling evidence and at least 51% certainty — that a sex crime occurred.

How Can a Sexual Assault Attorney Help?

There is a lot you can do to help someone you know who was the victim of a sexual assault. Encouraging the victim to report the assault and offering unwavering support is the first step in helping a victim seek justice. Encouraging them to seek the support of a legal professional can often be another critical step. Attorneys can also help in the following manner: 

  • They understand Colorado law and will apply the law to ensure an abuser is held accountable to the fullest extent
  • They will investigate your case to determine the liable parties
  • They will compile strong evidence that proves your claims
  • They can evaluate the damages you may be eligible for
  • They will negotiate a comprehensive settlement
  • They will represent you if your case goes to trial
  • They will provide unwavering support and guidance as you move through the legal process

Bachus & Schanker Is on Your Side

The scales of justice in front of a gavel.

If you or your loved one has been a victim of sexual assault, we are so sorry you are going through this challenging time. Our Victims Advocates team, a selection of highly specialized professionals, is committed to supporting victims of sex crimes in all the ways they need. 

From providing robust legal support to connecting victims with community and national resources, our Victim Advocates stand for the rights of sexual assault victims and are committed to recovering the justice victims deserve.


C.R.S. 18-3-402.

C.R.S. 18-3-404.

Sexual Violence Prevention Statistics & Resources. (2024). 

You Deserve Fair Compensation

Don’t let the insurance companies intimidate you into accepting less than you deserve. We’re ready to fight for you.

A headshot of personal injury attorney, Kyle Bachus.

Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus

Google Logo 4.6 ★★★★★ 1,461 Google Reviews

Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.