Michael Irvin, a star football player for the University of Miami Hurricanes during the 1980s, was accused of rape by a woman in a civil lawsuit who claimed that she was attacked at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The lawsuit was filed in Broward Circuit Court. Irvin, an NFL Hall of Famer, grew up in Fort Lauderdale and was a wide receiver at the University of Miami before joining the Dallas Cowboys.
No criminal charges have been filed against Irvin, although the Broward County State Attorney’s Office in Fort Lauderdale is currently investigating the case.
The woman in her complaint alleged the attack occurred around midnight during the early morning of July 5, 2007. The suit doesn’t identify the woman, merely referring to her as “Jane Doe.” Irvin, through his lawyer, has denied the charges.
In the civil complaint, the woman alleged Irvin bought her drinks, then took her to his hotel room. In the room, another unidentified man restrained her, while Irvin allegedly raped her. When Irvin was finished, the other man allegedly forced her to perform oral sex.
The woman reported the incident approximately two weeks later to the Seminole Police Department on July 20, 2007. A Tribe spokesman said that they inspected the room, but by that time there was no longer any forensic evidence or surveillance video. The woman also signed a waiver of prosecution because she wanted to avoid the publicity which would surround the charges.
The woman’s lawyer claimed his client had passed a polygraph test. Her attorney also stated that his client and Irvin’s lawyers had attempted to negotiate a settlement. Since the parties could not agree, the woman filed the lawsuit just days before the Super Bowl was to be played in South Florida.
Polygraph tests are not admissable in court unless both parties agree, which usually does not happen. These tests are still viewed as being unreliable because they are subject to manipulation, although they are frequently administered by police during the investigation of crimes.
The civil lawsuit against Michael Irvin also serves to highlight the difference between the criminal court and civil court systems. In criminal court, a defendant is facing a loss of liberty, i.e. jail time, perhaps even the death penalty. In a civil case, the defendant in the event of losing, is looking merely at adverse financial consequences in the form of a civil judgment for money damages.
Victims of sexual assaults have the right to make a claim in civil court for money damages sustained as a result of the attack. Such damages frequently include medical expenses as well as claims for “pain and suffering.” The emotional damages to victims of sexual assaults can be devastating and if the evidence warrants, juries in civil cases frequently award substantial verdicts for these types of claims.
A difficult aspect of sexual assault claims in civil cases is collecting money on a judgment that has been awarded. Typically, the perpetrators of these terrible crimes do not have the money to pay off the judgment, making many of these lawsuits economically unfeasible. There are situations, however, where a judgment for money damages may be collectible such as where the location of the attack did not have adequate security, then the property owner may be liable. Also, where the defendant who is alleged to have committed the assault has substantial financial assets such as a professional athlete or wealthy business man, these cases may prove to be “collectible.”
With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims.
All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.