Accused of Sexual Assault in the Workplace?Published: Mar 05, 2020 in Sex Crimes
Workplace sex offense cases are complicated. Sometimes your accuser is most concerned with an internal investigation and seeing you fired. Other circumstances, such as if a coworker accuses you of rape, will lead to a law enforcement investigation. Whether or not allegations of sexual assault in the workplace have been brought up internally only or to the police, you should hire an experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer immediately.
How to Handle Workplace Sexual Assault Allegations
Stay Calm and Polite
It’s frustrating to be accused of something you didn’t do, particularly sexual harassment or sexual assault at work. These allegations immediately damage your personal and professional reputation. However, it’s essential not to lose your temper. Remain calm when talking with your coworkers, supervisors, and human resources personnel.
Don’t Talk to Your Accuser
We’ve seen many people accused of sexual assault in the workplace try and handle the issue themselves. We suggest you don’t reach out to the alleged victim or coworkers they’re close to. This can make matters worse. Instead, keep your distance physically and limit communication with your accuser.
Don’t Apologize for Something You Didn’t Do
Some sources recommend you apologize even if you didn’t commit the offense. We highly recommend you speak with an attorney before admitting to any inappropriate behavior or saying something a person could construe as an admission of guilt—including an apology.
Prepare for an Investigation with the Help of a Lawyer
Allegations of sexual assault at work often lead to a criminal investigation by the police. The interviews and documentation in the workplace inquiry could become evidence in that investigation. Be mindful of what you say to coworkers, your boss, and HR. By working with an attorney as soon as possible, you have the guidance you need to cooperate with the company’s investigation while protecting your rights.
The police might not arrest you right away. The police and district attorney’s office can investigate for months before deciding to pursue charges. The prosecutor might choose to convene a grand jury, and only if the jury indicts you will the police arrest you. You need to prepare for all of this.
The best way to be ready for what might come is to work with a seasoned sex crimes attorney. In some circumstances, having an aggressive attorney from the beginning can help you avoid criminal charges or lead to the prosecutor pursuing less severe charges.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Texas
Texas Penal Code Sections 22.011 and 22.021 deal with sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, respectively. The statutes cover the sexual assault of all victims, including minors.
You can be convicted of sexual assault if you intentionally or knowingly penetrate or cause the penetration of the anus, sexual organ, or mouth of another person without their consent or cause the other person’s sexual organ to come into contact with an individual’s anus, sexual organ, or mouth without permission. Aggravated sexual assault involves the same conduct as well as an attempt to cause the victim’s death or serious bodily injury.
Sexual assault is a second-degree felony, while aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony. For sexual assault, a court can penalize you with between two and 20 years in prison. Aggravated sexual assault is punishable with between five and 99 years in prison. Both convictions can result in fines up to $10,000 and lifetime sex offender registration.
A Strong Defense Is the Best Way to Get Back to Work
A serious collateral consequence of being accused of sexual assault is losing your job. You might be suspended or placed on administrative leave—with or without pay. If your employer is waiting for the resolution of the court case, you could be off work for months.
Your employer could also fire you. Texas is an at-will employment state. Without a contract stating otherwise, your employer can choose to let you go for any lawful reason. A serious accusation of sexual assault at work could lead to your employer letting you go immediately.
By working with an attorney during the police investigation, you protect your rights and possibly show a serious lack of evidence against you. If a prosecutor pursues charges, your lawyer might prevail in having the case dismissed or obtaining an acquittal at trial.
Whether or not you can—or should—return to work if you’re acquitted of a sex offense depends on various factors. Even if your employer welcomes you back, it might not be the right choice. But an innocent verdict goes a long way to restoring your professional reputation.
Contact a Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer for Help
You never have to handle sexual assault allegations yourself—and you shouldn’t. If a colleague accuses you of sexual assault, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett right away.
You can schedule a free initial consultation online or by calling (713) 222-6767. Attorney Barnett has decades of experience defending against sex crimes in Texas. He’ll use his knowledge and skills to fight these charges and get your career back on track.