Do I Have To Use My Real Name In A Sexual Assault Law Suit?

person signing a document

Do I Have To Use My Real Name In A Law Suit For Rape?

A survivor of sexual assault, abuse or trafficking  may file a civil lawsuit  under a pseudonym or fake name, such as John Doe or Jane Doe, with the permission of the court. In determining whether to allow a plaintiff to proceed under a pseudonym, the court must weigh the victim’s privacy interests against the need for an open judicial proceeding

*The leading case on this subject is Doe v. Frank, which sets forth factors the court may consider when determining whether a plaintiff may proceed anonymously. In the trafficking context, one court allowed plaintiffs to proceed using pseudonyms based on the defendants’ previous use of threats as alleged in a parallel criminal indictment, and because of the
government’s interest in protecting the identity of potential witnesses in the criminal case. In another human trafficking lawsuit, the Court allowed the plaintiffs to proceed anonymously where law enforcement officers found firearms in the home of one of the traffickers, a paralegal working for the plaintiffs’ counsel overheard family members of the defendants making threatening comments about the plaintiffs, and the Complaint includes “allegations of violence and coercion by the contractor defendants against the
plaintiffs.” This was “sufficient to overcome the presumption of open judicial proceedings.”

* Info from Civil Litigation on Behalf of Victims of Human Trafficking | Southern Poverty Law Center

Doe v. Frank 

"A plaintiff should be permitted to proceed anonymously only in those exceptional cases involving matters of a highly sensitive and personal nature, real danger of physical harm, or where the injury litigated against would be incurred as a result of the disclosure of the plaintiff's identity. The risk that a plaintiff may suffer some embarrassment is not enough." 

I would certainly argue that a case involving sexual assault, abuse or trafficking would qualify as "matters of a highly sensitive and personal nature," in addition to the obvious safety concerns. 

If You Have Questions Regarding Your Rights as a Survivor of Rape or Sexual Abuse

Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.