ARKANSAS Sex Abuse Lawyer
Child sex abuse and emotional abuse are sensitive topics to discuss for any victim. People with these experiences may hold onto their pain for years before sharing this personal information with anyone. Victims often relive the event and experience new trauma when the crime gets reported, making it a notoriously hard process to go through.
Arkansas is experiencing a rise in child sex abuse reports and investigations. Here at Herman Law, we help victims of child sexual abuse seek justice in civil court. Whether you want to file a civil claim or press criminal charges, we handle each case with compassion and empathy. We understand what a difficult time it can be to recover from sexual abuse can be. Our sexual assault lawyers have decades of experience helping sex abuse victims. We can provide you with the legal advice you need to take legal action. If you are a victim of sexual abuse or any other sexual offense, contact us today for a free case evaluation to understand your legal rights.
Arkansas Child Sex Abuse Statistics
Sexual offenses in the state of Arkansas involve instances where some form of sexual activity factors into the crime, regardless of whether unwanted sexual touching or sexual intercourse occurs. Illegal pornographic material is a serious issue in the state, with multiple cases occurring every year across various counties. Possession of obscene pornography cases totaled over 400 across the state in 2020 alone. Possessing child pornography is usually charged as a felony and can carry a sentence of 10 years to life in prison. There are over 1,000 registered level one sex offenders in Arkansas and over 17,000 total on the sex offender registry listing. The legal system takes this information seriously, and it wants to help victims seek assistance for any personal injury and disability caused by abuse.
Recent Arkansas Child Sex Abuse Cases
Arkansas Dioceses Sex Abuse Scandals
To save its reputation, the Catholic Church allowed sex abuse to occur for many decades. The infamous Catholic sex abuse scandal and resulting fines brought this all to light. Through willful omission and neglect, deviant sexual activity by authority figures continued to take place across the institution. This led to repeated sex offenses committed on an undetermined number of children by clergy sexual predators. Sexual abuse victims continue to come out of hiding and seek justice for these terrible crimes of forced sexual contact. The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock recently released the names of former clergy who have allegations against them for the sexual abuse of minors. Though many of these sex crime cases are still under investigation, the preliminary list of clergy offenders has caused more brave victims to come forward. The Diocese periodically updates the list with the names of new individuals accused of a sex crime. Many Arkansas churches allowed clergy sexual predators to prey on victims in different places, often just rotating these offenders after a reporting of a sexual act arose. The following list contains the institutions that received credible accusations of clergy abuse occurring:
Arkansas Laura’s Law
In each report of child maltreatment, neglect, or child sex abuse, responding police officers or prosecutors must provide victims and perpetrators with a series of assessments and information. Lethality assessments can help responders determine the severity of the situation and the imminent danger of the child. The severity scale ranges from lethal to non-lethal threats. The victim receives education regarding safe houses, treatment centers, shelters, and community outreach options in both scenarios. Under Laura’s Law, Arkansas requires officers to provide victims with this information, as the dangerous situation may otherwise lead to death. When a victim reports a crime, law enforcement provides what is known as Laura’s Card. This card contains vital contact information, including street addresses, email links, and phones to call for monetary and emotional assistance. Victim services are paid for under the associated fund specifically reserved to help those who have experienced child sexual abuse.
Laura’s Card provides information on how to access crisis lines, shelters, cash assistance, medical treatment, therapy, and local communities that specialize in trauma support. The Card provides information in both English and Spanish. The card cannot provide legal assistance but can help victims find the right law firm services for legal matters.
Non-profit organizations can provide excellent support for victims of sexual assault. Many groups take on the burden of filling out the paperwork and relieve victims of time-consuming concerns. Reports show that survivors of childhood sexual abuse are four times more likely to become sex workers, abuse drugs or alcohol, and suffer from traumatic mental disorders. Arkansas offers crisis counseling and provides locations for victims to access multiple assistance programs. There are grants up to $50,000 for victims to access. Private companies outside of government institutions and Laura’s Law help victims every day. Having proper representation and reaching out for support can guide people through the healing journey.
Child Sex Abuse Resources in Arkansas
The shelter list can be accessed online through the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence. A shelter can be a safe space if neglect or abuse occurs in the home, or if the abuser is a family member or caregiver. When reporting crimes to the police, you should know what to expect. It helps to understand why they ask each question during the criminal process. Victims will be encouraged to call the closest shelter in their region. An officer cannot facilitate the call to a shelter for victims. By law, every person must call for services or have a private advocate do so on their behalf. Victims will be asked a series of questions about the details of the crime and if sexual intercourse occurred. A high-rated lethality assessment requires officers to alarm people to call a shelter and seek help immediately. Changes can involve leaving your current living situation and looking for financial services. Officers should encourage victims to confirm the information they received.
Civil vs. Criminal Lawsuits in Arkansas
Damages define the amount of money owed to a party after a judge has ruled in court. These claims can provide financial compensation. There are two common types of damages, punitive and compensatory, and both can be awarded in a single case. Punitive damages punish the perpetrator with serious penalties and award money to the client. Compensatory damages cover tangible losses and bills for services related to the abuse.
Under clients’ rights, victims can name both individuals and institutions liable in a civil lawsuit. The organization that allowed abuse can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit. A judge’s ruling will depend on the severity of the abuse detailed during the proceeding. Having evidence helps paint the story for the courtroom and is crucial for proper compensation. Sexual and home abuse lawyers can help clients track down evidence to support their case.
Only individuals can be tried in a criminal lawsuit. Several different offenses cover crimes for every type of perpetrator. A prosecutor can charge sex offenses with a misdemeanor or a felony of the first degree, second degree, or third degree. Crimes involving children usually involve serious criminal charges. Felony crimes can carry a jail time sentence of ten years to life. The details of the crime define the classification of each felony. Violent rape refers to forcible sexual intercourse involving physical injury and is severely punished when the crime involves the statutory rape of a minor.
New Arkansas Law Extending Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Victims
The pandemic caused courts in Arkansas to extend the statutes of limitations on sexual assault misdemeanor crimes. This opened the door for victims seeking to file charges, and who were previously barred from doing so. There is no statute of limitations for serious felony crimes like rape and sexual abuse of minors. People who experience horrible sex crimes often do not come forward until later in life because the heavy burden of trauma is so hard to bear. Some crimes still have time limits preventing victims from filing charges. Before the pandemic, sex crimes against children that were not previously reported to the police could not be pursued criminally if the victim had reached the age of twenty-eight. COVID-19 lockdowns inspired Arkansas’ new rule that benefits victims of misdemeanor sexual assaults. The Arkansas legislature extended the timeframe for when a victim can file claims or criminal reports on these cases. Now, victims over the age limit have a chance to be heard.
Preparing for a Child Sex Abuse Case in Arkansas
Begin with small steps and gather the information you have available on the crime. Save text messages, emails, and any form of communication between you and the abuser. Photographs and other media files can help clients argue their cases. Collect anything that may be connected to the crime because it may be helpful to support a claim. Also, legal documentation begins the official process. Contacting knowledgeable and compassionate sex abuse attorneys can help you gather and obtain necessary documents.
Our attorneys at Herman Law have a strong track record in victim advocacy in many practice areas. Contact our legal team today through our website online contact form for a free consultation. Be heard by professionals who have experience helping people and want to help you receive the justice you deserve.