Sexual Assault Case that Changed the Law

Some of the hardest cases we have worked on include sexual assault lawsuits arising out of the sexual assault of minors here in San Antonio. These cases are difficult legally and emotionally. One such case we took led to a change in Texas law that we are very proud of because it helps all Texans.


Speaker: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day to day basis. [music] A lot of people we meet with, we have to explain that the law is not made to right every wrong, but the law is written the way it is written due to legislators and courts who have interpreted it a certain way and decided that certain things would be actionable in the civil system. Sometimes the laws need to change because they, by operation, are unfair.

One of the early cases I worked on, which I’ve talked about in this podcast, involved the sexual assault of a minor. I got involved in that case because at some point along the way, a sexually-oriented business establishment, a strip club, had sued her. When she was being trafficked, she was taken to a strip club at one point. After she was rescued, the strip club sued her and the attorney for the strip club got on the news and said that she looked like Miss America and looked like she wanted to be there even though she was 14 years old. The strip club sued this 14-year-old girl for, according to them, jeopardizing their TABC license.

Somehow or another, this young lady was referred to me because nobody knew how to help her. Two years out of law school, I can’t say I really knew how to help her at that time, but I was going to help her. I represented her as a defense attorney first, the one time in my career I was a defense attorney, and then the strip club decided that was a really bad idea on their part and they wanted out of it, but it was too late at that part. We pursued them for allowing this to happen in their bar for not using diligence, and what we felt was something they knew was happening and they just turned a blind eye to it. They filed a motion to dismiss our case in the court.

The law at the time was that if somebody suffered mental injuries without physical injuries, that they don’t have a claim in Texas except for a few limited circumstances. This was not one of them. The trial judge told us that that was the law and he didn’t feel it was just, but he had to grant their motion, so the case went up on appeal. On appeal, the appellate court said that they thought the law was unjust as well, and they wanted the Supreme Court to give guidance, but for now they were going to change the law and say that if a minor was in a sexually-oriented business, and the law protects minors from entering those businesses, that the court was going to recognize that she would have suffered a mental injury.

This was new law in Texas. The Supreme Court chose not to decide this, so for now, in one appellate division in the state of Texas, we were able to change the law and make new law. This is new law that protects minors. It protects children. It protects them against predators. In this sexual assault case, I was able to represent my client in a way that, not only at the end of the day, stood up for her rights, but due to her courage, we were able to change the law in the state of Texas, at least in one appellate division, so that children are more protected now than they were before. [music]

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