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Sexual assault must still be proven in a court of law

In this era of women and men coming forward with details of past sexual assaults and harassment, along with the prevalence of the #metoo hashtag in social media, it can be easy to automatically deem the accused guilty. But it is important to remember that, unless the accused has admitted to the conduct, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. A mere accusation - as the infamous Duke lacrosse and University of Virginia fraternity rape cases demonstrated - does not make the allegations true.

Those who have been targeted in a sexual assault or criminal sexual harassment investigation should seek the advice of a seasoned criminal defense attorney right away. An experienced lawyer can not only help to defend the legal aspects of the case, he can work to mitigate or deflect the negative media reports that can cause considerable damage to one's reputation even before the case goes to trial. In the long run, this can be as important as a not guilty verdict.

In Pennsylvania, two recent, high-profile sexual assault and misconduct cases have demonstrated how damaging such allegations can be. One involves a state lawmaker and the other a school board and state education leader. Both cases have received considerable statewide media attention, and even before going to trial, have taken tolls on the men's reputations and bottom lines.

When the press becomes involved, it can be easy for the public to think a defendant is guilty of a crime before they have their day in court. An experienced defense lawyer can help a defendant through the stresses of public scrutiny, as well as those of the legal system. Anyone accused of a crime should seek the counsel of a lawyer before speaking with anyone, including law enforcement and the media.

Source: The Inquirer, "Former Pa. education honcho Larry Wittig finds support despite sexual misconduct scandal," Tricia L. Nadolny, March 9, 2018

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