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Child sex abuse has victimized countless young people. Many of them live in Kentucky and have dealt with the trauma of their experiences on their own. Victims don’t have to go through the healing journey alone, though. For many victims, a big part of the healing process is being able to hold the perpetrator accountable.

The lawyers at Herman Law can help. We provide our clients with the information they need to understand their legal rights. If you or a family member are a victim of a sex crime, contact our sexual abuse attorneys today.

Sexually Based Offenses in Kentucky

Definition: Sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 12

Class of Crime: Class B felony, unless the child suffers a serious physical injury, in which case it is a Class A felony

Definition: Someone aged 18 or older has sexual intercourse with someone less than 14 years old

Class of Crime: Class C felony

(a) Someone 21 or older has sexual intercourse with someone less than 16;
(b) Someone who is at least ten years older than the other person has sexual intercourse with someone who is 16 or 17;
(c) A foster parent who is at least 21 years old has sexual intercourse with a foster child under 18; or
(d) A person in a position of authority or special trust has sexual intercourse with someone under 18

Class of Crime: Class D felony

Definition: Sexual contact with someone under 12

Class of Crime: Class C felony

(a) Someone 21 or older has sexual contact with or masturbates in the presence of someone less than 16 years old; or
(b) Someone in a position of authority or trust has sexual contact with or masturbates in the presence of someone less than 18 years old

Class of Crime: Class D felony

Definition: Someone between 18 and 21 years old has sexual contact with someone under 16

Class of Crime: Class A misdemeanor

Definition: Any non-consensual sexual contact

Class of Crime: Class B misdemeanor

Definition: Any non-consensual sexual intercourse

Class of Crime: Class A misdemeanor

The penalties for a conviction for one of these sex offenses are:

Class B

Class B misdemeanor Up to 90 days in jail and up to $250 in fines

Class A

Up to 1 year in jail and up to $500 in fines

Class D

1 to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines

Class C

5 to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines

Class B

10 to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines

Class A

20 to 50 years or life in prison and up to $10,000 in fines

There is a close-in-age exception for second-and third-degree sexual abuse charges. This exception is for sex abuse where all 3 of the following facts are true:

  • The only reason the sexual contact was deemed non-consensual is because the person was under the age of consent
  • The person was at least 14 years old
  • The perpetrator was less than five years older than the underage person.

For cases that rely on the perpetrator’s abuse of authority or position of trust, the parties must have come into contact with each other because of the perpetrator’s position. These positions of power or special trust include:



Adult youth leaders, including those that work at summer camps

Household members
Teachers or other school employees
Adult coaches, recreational staff members, or volunteers

Religious leaders

Staff or volunteers for a residential treatment or detention facility

Counselors, including those that work in psychiatric treatment facilities

Anyone in a position to exercise undue influence over the minor

Healthcare providers, including spa
and massage therapists

How Common is Sex Abuse in Kentucky?

For three straight years, Kentucky has had the highest child abuse and neglect rate, with more than 20 children affected for every 1,000. Many of these cases of abuse involve sexual abuse.

Recent Cases of Sex Abuse in Kentucky

Many incidents of child sexual abuse go unreported. Even when the victim does come forward, the cases that make the news are only a fraction of the whole.

One hospital in Louisville has seen a spike in underage patients who were likely victims of child abuse. Doctors who come to work at the hospital from other parts of the country frequently comment on the amount of child mistreatment, abuse, and neglect that they see. In one case, a 9-day-old baby was treated for a head bruise, as well as two broken femurs and other broken bones.

In other cases, law enforcement can act before sexual abuse can happen. A Rineyville man was caught in a sting operation and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. An undercover police officer posed as a 15-year-old girl online. When the man solicited her for sex, they agreed to meet. When he arrived, the police arrested him. It’s almost impossible to tell, though, if he had done similar things in the past and successfully abused a child. This was the case in a 2018 conviction of a man who sexually abused several minors in 2014 and 2015.

Boy Scouts Sex Abuse in Kentucky

One of the most prominent cases of sexual abuse in recent decades is coming to a close. Many victims of sexual abuse sued the Boy Scouts of America, forcing the organization into bankruptcy due to the significant potential liability. More than 90,000 cases of abuse were filed, including 580 in Kentucky Scouting.

In July 2021, the Boy Scouts organization reached an $850 million settlement with numerous sexual abuse victims. It is one of the largest settlements for sexual abuse claims in history. The money will go towards compensating the victims for their experiences and ongoing recovery.

Catholic Church Sex Abuse Cases in Kentucky

Priests have victimized children in Kentucky in the Catholic Church. In 2005, the Covington Diocese agreed to pay $120 million to settle a case brought by victims of child molestation. At the time, it was the largest settlement for clergy sexual abuse.

Sex Offender Registry in Kentucky

People convicted for a sex offense involving a minor will have to register as sex offenders. This puts their name, address, conviction, and their photo on a publically accessible database. While the stated goal of the registry is to notify the public of the sex offender’s presence, it also comes with a strong stigma that many sex offenders find to be one of the worst consequences of their conviction.

In Kentucky, sex offenders who have abused children have to register for:

  • Life, if their conviction was for first-degree rape or
    they have two or more felony convictions involving minors, or
  • Twenty years for other covered offenses.

Failing to register is a crime.

Consequences for Sexual Abuse in Kentucky

In addition to being required to register as a sex offender, people who sexually abuse minors in Kentucky can face the following consequences:

  • Prison time
  • Fines
  • Social stigmatization
  • Limitations on where they can live once they’ve been released
  • Being ineligible for certain types of jobs, like working in a school
  • Having to admit to a prior felony conviction on job applications
  • Potential civil liability to the victims

Kentucky Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Crimes

The Kentucky criminal statute of limitations (K.R.S. 500.050) puts a time limit on when prosecutors can file charges for sex abuse crimes. Once this time limit expires, any charges filed can be quickly dismissed as time-barred.

For felonies, though, there’s no time limitation. Prosecutors can file charges for a felony offense at any time after it has occurred in Kentucky.

For misdemeanors, the time limit is usually one year. However, there’s an exception for misdemeanor sex offenses involving minors. Prosecutors can file these charges at any point before the victim turns 28 years old.

Should I hire a Kentucky sex abuse attorney?

Victims who have been sexually abused in Kentucky can benefit from having a lawyer in numerous ways. Many victims are left with an array of emotional scars, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychological trauma, and hefty medical expenses to pay for therapy or other forms of treatment. No matter what your situation is, contacting a sexual abuse lawyer today can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

The legal process for these cases usually involves both criminal and civil aspects. This complexity makes it different from many other civil lawsuits. Most personal injury lawyers may not understand how these circumstances impact each other and the victim. A sexual abuse lawyer does, and that knowledge can make a massive difference for the victim.

The peace of mind that comes from hiring a Kentucky sex abuse attorney is essential as well. Overcoming the trauma of being sexually abused is difficult. Some victims find that holding their abuser accountable is a big help. However, it has to be done in the right way so as not to retraumatize the victim.

The lawyers at Herman Law are sensitive to the needs and desires of abuse survivors in Kentucky. Contact them online to get the legal advice you need.