It is undoubtedly one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person, while also being the most damaging of false allegations.
In the UK, it is estimated that sexual assault has impacted the lives of 20% of all women over the age of 16 and 4% of men of the same age. Spanning across every race, religion and class, it is a crime that is taken extremely seriously by the police, while also being treated with a high level of care in relation to victims.
However, as prevelant as sexual assault is in the UK, very few people know where to go if they are accused of commiting such an act. And this lack of knowledge and guidance may actually prove to be the downfall of many people who have been falsely accused.
In this very simplified guide, some of the most frequently asked questions about sexual assault are answered by a trained sexual offence solicitor.
Can sexual assault occur in marriage?
Yes, it can; even if you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse can sexually assault you in the eyes of the law. While statistics indicate that single or recently separated women are at a higher risk for experiencing sexual assault, this may be a bias caused by single women being more likely to report incidents of sexual assault than a married person. If your partner or former partner accuses you of sexual assault, seek the advice of a sexual offence solicitor immediately.
What should I do if I’m accused of a sexual offence?
Firstly, it is vital for your own defence that you contact a sexual offence solicitor; it is not an admission of guilt and will be beneficial to your case. Secondly, under no circumstances should you attempt to contact the accuser – this will look exceedingly suspicious and could be interpreted as threatening behaviour by the prosecution, even if you only want to talk. Follow the advice of your solicitor and be as honest as possible in all interviews with your legal representative.
Will I lose my job?
If you have been accused of sexual assault and are awaiting a ruling, your boss cannot fire you; to do so would be a discriminatory act. However, if you are found guilty of committing a sexual offence, then your employer has the legal right to terminate your employment.
Will I lose child access due to the allegation?
This is tough to answer, as your former spouse may not be comfortable with you seeing your children after an allegation has been made. For advice, contact a sexual offence and a family solicitor for guidance, as there are many factors to consider with this issue.
Will my reputation be damaged even if I’m found innocent?
In a word, no. While you can never prevent people from gossiping, legally, your professional reputation will not be damaged and the false allegation will be removed from your police record, so it will not show up on CRB checks.