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Child sexual abuse is a serious social problem affecting our society. In recent years, many investigations have brought to light the extensive abuse spanning decades. The Herman Law team exclusively represents victims of sexual abuse and has many years of experience advocating for survivors.
The dedication of Herman Law’s child sex abuse lawyers and staff members to child sex abuse lawsuits helps victims of these heinous crimes heal. Our unique approach to this sensitive area of law also helps our clients receive the best results. Our processes include spending the first 30 days:
- Proactively focusing on developing your case by discussing a specific strategy
- Ensuring we stay on track and implement that strategy
- Diligently collecting and preserving all necessary evidence to support your case
- Utilizing our own in-house Special Investigative Unit that understands what evidence you need and how to obtain it
These first 30 days are crucial to pursuing your claim successfully. If you experienced sexual abuse as a child, contact us now for a free consultation to learn about your legal rights and how to get the compensation you deserve to support your ongoing recovery financially.
Helping Child Abuse Victims
Child sexual abuse is a tragedy that leads to psychological and physical trauma that can have severe consequences and endure for some victims throughout their adult life. Child sexual abuse can substantially impact mental health, interpersonal relationships, and future career aspirations.
Herman Law comprises child sex abuse lawyers who understand the challenges faced by these brave survivors. Our sole mission is to help child sex abuse victims by giving them a voice and empowering them throughout the legal process and continued healing. Herman Law fights for victims’ rights to recover the maximum compensation available to ease the financial burden of the physical and psychological trauma suffered.
We are a national law firm with a history of being attorneys dedicated to advocating for child sexual abuse survivors. The Herman Law firm is divided into different departments specifically designed to create an advantage for childhood sexual trauma victims who choose to file a civil claim against their perpetrators. Herman Law has an in-house investigative unit made up of former law enforcement officers, allowing us to gather the pertinent facts of your case and substantive evidence before filing a lawsuit. Doing so enables us to move forward with your case expeditiously, eliminating delays.
Child sexual abuse victims filing a civil lawsuit are not always children. Often, victims delay starting a lawsuit because they’re intimidated by their perpetrator, they want to forget about the problem, or they aren’t sure if the harm they experienced was sexual abuse. The time for prosecuting varies state by state. Like California and New York, some states have passed laws for child victims prolonging the time frame to bring a civil lawsuit against their perpetrators.
At Herman Law, we empathize with victims and their families and seek to provide advice that supports everyone through the process. To understand the right time for you to file a lawsuit, it’s crucial to get help and contact a child sexual abuse attorney, like the attorneys at Herman Law, to understand the resources available to you, even as an adult.
Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
In many instances, victims of child sexual abuse know who the perpetrator is, and this familiar person tries to convince the child that sexual abuse is not happening. This uncertainty leaves many victims wondering later in life if they experienced sexual abuse as a child.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of child sexual abuse is “any attempted completed or attempted (non-completed) sexual act, sexual contact with, or exploitation (i.e., noncontact sexual interaction) of a child by a caregiver.”
The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) describes child sexual abuse as involving “any sexual activity with a child where consent is not or cannot be given… This includes sexual contact between an adult and a child, regardless of whether there is deception or the child understands the sexual nature of the activity. Sexual contact between an older and a younger child also can be abusive if there is a significant disparity in age, development, or size, rendering the younger child incapable of giving informed consent.”
Child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child. It can consist of forced visual acts, such as:
- Exhibitionism or exposing oneself to a minor
- Masturbation in the presence of a minor
- Obscene phone calls or text messages to minors
- Psychological pressure to engage in sexual activity
These acts don’t involve physical contact, but they’re considered child sexual abuse because of the lasting psychological effects the viewing can have on the affected child.
Child sexual abuse also includes physical contact, such as:
- Any direct sexual act including, oral, vaginal, or anal
- The use of children in pornographic materials
- Forcing a child to masturbate
Child sexual abuse doesn’t always involve force or violence to get children to participate in these actions. Instead, perpetrators often try to manipulate the child’s trust and hide the abuse.
Children cannot consent to any of these sexual acts, so the perpetrators commit a crime when engaging in these actions that can potentially harm the victims forever. A child sexual abuse lawsuit can help victims seek compensation for their pain and suffering occurring during their childhood.
How Child Sex Abuse Lawyers Can Help
Child sexual abuse cases can be mentally tolling for the victims, their caretakers, and their families. Often, victims of child sex abuse are scared to disclose the abuse to anyone because they fear the perpetrator. After coming forward, it can seem like it’s easier and the best option just to move forward, forget about the whole thing, and hope everything goes away.
Herman Law offers counseling and advice to help confront the problem head-on and help you understand and navigate the experience, including getting answers to your questions about the law.
A victim can choose to file a child sexual abuse case in either criminal courts or civil courts. A civil vs. criminal case differs in its outcome. In civil child sexual abuse cases, victims seek compensation for their emotional and physical damages suffered due to their abuse.
Child sex abuse victims can bring civil lawsuits against an individual and organizations or third-party institutions responsible for enabling or covering up the abuse. Examples of third parties that can share accountability for your abuse include:
- School districts
- Religious organizations
- Summer camps
- Residential care facilities
- Youth organizations
In a criminal case, the state can file charges against the perpetrator for their child sexual abuse crimes. If the perpetrator gets convicted, they can receive a sentence to include jail time or other retributions.
Types of Cases our Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers Handle
Herman Law handles a variety of child sexual abuse cases occurring in both private and public situations, including:
What are my or my child’s rights as a child abuse survivor?
A victim of child sexual abuse can file a civil lawsuit. A parent or guardian can represent a child and sue for physical, psychological, and other harm caused due to the abuse. The victim’s parent or guardian can also sue for their own pain and suffering stemming from their child’s abuse. Emotional distress damages compensate the distressed party for the psychological impact of the child’s sexual abuse.
If a victim or a caregiver chooses to file criminal charges and allow the state to prosecute the perpetrator, the rights of a child sexual abuse survivor include the right to appear and be heard at criminal proceedings.
Child Sex Abuse Laws & Consequences
Four federal laws address criminal charges for child sexual abuse: Aggravated sexual abuse (18 U.S.C. §2241), Sexual abuse (18 U.S.C. §2242), Sexual abuse of a minor or ward (18 U.S.C. §2243), and Abusive sexual contact (18 U.S.C. §2244).
- The aggravated sexual abuse law requires intent by the perpetrator to commit a sexual act either with someone younger than 12 or between the ages of 12 and 16. If the child is less than 12, the punishment is greater. This charge is a strict liability crime, meaning there’s no defense that the perpetrator believed the child was older than they actually were.
- The sexual abuse law applies to children because they are incapable of providing consent to the perpetrator. Any sexual act between the perpetrator and the child violates the terms of the sexual abuse law.
- The sexual abuse of a minor or ward law requires that the child is between the ages of 12 and 16 and that the perpetrator is at least four years older than the defendant. There’s an affirmative defense for this particular law if the defendant reasonably believed the victim was older than 16. The defendant can raise another defense if they can prove they were married to the victim at the time of the event.
- The abusive sexual contact law requires sexual contact that violates any of the above sections of the law. If the child is under 12 years of age, the court can double the maximum sentence.
Current Legislation Protecting Child Sexual Assault Victims
Congress passed laws requiring states to take preventative steps concerning child sexual abuse, including:
- Rape Survivor Child Custody Act (2015)
- The Wetterling Act (1993)
- The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (2006)
- The Kilah Davenport Act (2013)
Congress designed these Acts to deter future instances of child sexual abuse and protect victims and their families. The resulting positive effects of these acts include:
- Sexual offender and crimes against children registry
- Increasing penalties for perpetrators of child sexual abuse
- Increasing penalties for repeat offenders
- State laws terminating parental rights of men who father children through rape
The federal government has passed many laws to deter acts of child sexual abuse and assist victims, but federal laws themselves typically don’t apply to child sexual abuse matters. For federal laws to apply, the crime must occur on federal lands, including military bases and Indian territories. Generally, whenever a child sexual abuse act occurs in a single state, the state’s laws apply, and local and state authorities handle the case.
Criminal penalties for people found guilty of violating child sexual abuse laws, both in federal and state criminal law proceedings, include:
- Fines: The amount fined typically ranges depending on the egregiousness of the crime. More significant fines can reach several thousand dollars.
- Incarceration: The length of jail time is largely dependent on whether the penalty is a misdemeanor or a felony, but specific state laws also determine a perpetrator’s sentence. For instance, Chelsea’s Law in California, passed in 2010, requires that certain violent sex offenders serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
- Probation: Probation is considered a weaker penalty that generally applies to less egregious cases lacking a sexual element, such as verbal abuse.
Child Sex Abuse State Laws & Statutes of Limitations
Each state has different laws governing definitions, charging, and penalties related to child sexual abuse. These laws might include differing definitions of sexual abuse, more considerable penalties depending on victims’ ages, affirmative defenses available to the perpetrator, and different standards of proof or mental status requirements. Some state laws also differ regarding reporting requirements, DNA sample handling and application, and limits on rapists’ parental rights.
A primary difference in state laws is the statute of limitations. States generally have a restrictive statute limiting the amount of time a victim has to initiate a lawsuit. Recently, most states have added extensions specifically for cases involving child sexual abuse. Legislators granted these extensions recognizing that victims of child sexual abuse frequently do not discover the relationship between their psychological damage and their abuse until they reach adulthood.
If you’re an adult seeking to file a civil action for child sexual abuse, you must contact an attorney to determine the relevant statute of limitations in your state.
Child Sex Abuse Laws
After decades of investigations revealing the extent of child sexual abuse, specifically in organizations that enabled the abuse, legislators have finally started to take action and change laws.
Sexual Child Abuse State Lawsuit Windows
New York recently updated their statute of limitations for reporting and litigating child sexual abuse crimes with the passing of the New York Child Victims Act. Previously, the law in place for child sexual abuse victims allowed them to report the crime to law enforcement officials and prosecute the case until the age of 23. After that age, the abuser had an absolute defense to avoid prosecution.
The law change extends the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse crimes to age 28 in criminal cases and 55 in civil cases. The bill also provides a one-year look back window for victims to bring civil claims regardless of age or how long ago their abuse happened.
Other states have begun adopting similar laws, and many are also creating look back windows to allow victims to initiate previously barred claims. States enacting these revolutionary law changes include:
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- Washington, D.C.
Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Cases
According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), most states have a statute of limitations that ranges from a ten-year time limit to around 21 years of age or longer to report and prosecute serious felony sex crimes. The statute of limitations for each state is different to report child sexual abuse, but many states enacting look back windows allow for victims of any age to now file claims, regardless of when their abuse happened. These prolonged reporting periods will only last for a designated time, with many deadlines set in 2021 or 2022.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuits and Lawyers
If you or your child were a victim of child sexual abuse, you likely have many questions about how a child sexual abuse lawyer or lawsuit can help you. We hope to provide answers to your questions and help you continue your healing and journey to recovery.
As the child’s caretaker, am I liable for child sexual abuse that happened to my child?
Some states have laws holding caretakers liable for child sexual abuse if they were aware of the abuse and failed to stop it. Courts commonly refer to this type of liability as an act of omission.
How do I file a child sexual abuse lawsuit?
If you suspect someone is sexually abusing a child, the first step is to ensure that the child is safe. If someone sexually abused you as a child, the first thing you need to recognize is that it was not your fault.
No matter the child sexual abuse circumstances, the next step is to file a claim with child protective services or the police. To do this, contact your state’s child protective services officers and provide as much factual information as possible supported by any evidence available to you. For more information on reporting child sexual abuse, you can visit the Stop it Now website.
Lastly, you need to reach out to a child sexual abuse attorney to schedule a consultation. During this time, a lawyer can help you decide if a personal injury lawsuit is right for you to seek compensation for damages via causes of action, including assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or negligent emotional distress.
Who can sue?
A child can sue via a parent or guardian for damages, including psychological harm and physical injury, caused by sexual abuse. Psychological damages can include emotional distress, lost wages, and mental health therapy. Physical damages typically include medical bills, surgeries, or rehabilitation stemming from treatment for physical harm done to the victim. A victim’s parent or caregiver can also recover damages for their emotional distress related to their child’s sexual abuse.
Compensation for a Child Sexual Abuse Victim
Child sexual abuse victims can use the legal system to initiate a claim for compensation for damages, including pain and suffering, emotional and mental anguish, therapy and medical care costs, and lost wages. A lawyer can help victims and their families navigate this difficult time and gain the most compensation possible to ease financial burdens related to child sexual abuse healing and recovery.
Let our Child Sex Abuse Lawyers at Herman Law Fight for You
Herman Law is a team of lawyers and staff dedicated to advocating for child sex abuse victims. Herman Law provides valuable advice and insight to help child sexual abuse victims recover compensation for their physical and psychological harm to aid in their continued healing.
Along with years of experience trying sexual abuse cases, Herman Law offers distinct advantages like in-house investigators that can help speed up the litigation process and eliminate unnecessary delays.
Herman Law fights for child sexual abuse victims.
If you suffered child sexual abuse, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Herman Law is ready to defend your legal rights and get you the compensation you deserve.