Maryland Sex Abuse Lawyer
Unfortunately, child sex abuse often goes unreported for years or even decades after the abuse occurred. However, Maryland law now allows you to bring a civil lawsuit against your abuser no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. A civil lawsuit can help you hold abusers accountable and seek compensation for the harm you suffered. A Maryland sex abuse lawyer at Herman Law can help you fight for the justice you deserve.
Child sex abuse is both underreported and under-prosecuted. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys experience sexual abuse or sexual assault from an adult.
Maryland has now made it easier for people who suffered child sex abuse to sue abusers and their enablers. A law passed in April 2023 removed the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims. People who have lived with the long-lasting effects of abuse they suffered as children now have a way to find justice, no matter their age.
A Maryland sex abuse lawyer has the knowledge and experience to help you file a claim. Herman Law only takes on sex abuse cases and works tirelessly on behalf of victims. You don’t need to face a lawsuit alone. Our dedicated team can stand with you and help you seek the justice you deserve.
- Why Sue for Sex Abuse in Maryland?
- Damages and Compensation for Sex Abuse in Maryland
- How Can I Prove Sex Abuse?
- Who Can I Sue for Sex Abuse in Maryland?
- Maryland Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations
- How Common Is Sex Abuse in Maryland?
- What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?
- Signs of Sex Abuse
- Long-Term Effects of Sex Abuse
- Prominent Cases of Sex Abuse in Maryland
- Why You Need a Maryland Sex Abuse Lawyer
- Why Choose Herman Law?
Why Sue for Sex Abuse in Maryland?
Many people live for years or decades with the trauma of child sex abuse.
A lawsuit won’t make the trauma go away, but it can help stop abusers and prevent others from being hurt. It can hold institutions accountable for shielding or turning a blind eye to the abusers. A successful lawsuit can also provide much-needed compensation for people who have had a life of struggle as a result of the abuse.
Damages and Compensation for Sex Abuse in Maryland
In Maryland, people who sue abusers can claim different types of damages for the harm they have suffered. These include:
- Physical pain
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Medical bills
As a victim of abuse, you may have suffered economic and non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are the intangible losses that result from the psychological, emotional, and mental harm caused by abuse. Non-economic damages recoverable in a lawsuit include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society
- Loss of bodily functions
- Loss of capacity to enjoy life
There are also quantifiable economic losses that follow from child sex abuse. People often need professional help to heal psychologically and physically. While the damage of the abuse still lingers, people often have difficulty completing activities that would contribute to their financial stability. For example, it may be challenging to attend college, work consistently, establish a profession, or start a business. Economic losses you may recover in a lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses
- Cost of psychological counseling or therapy
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Lost business opportunities
Under Maryland law, you can receive up to $890,000 in compensation from a public institution, such as a public school or city recreation complex. If the abuse happened at a location run by a private entity, such as a daycare or religious organization, the maximum compensation for non-economic damages is $1.5 million. There is no cap for compensation from a private entity for economic damages.
Your lawyer can help decide how much compensation to ask for in a lawsuit and for what kinds of harm.
How Can I Prove Sex Abuse?
The standard to prove child sex abuse when you file a civil suit differs from the standard of proof used in a criminal trial.
Unfortunately, criminal cases of child sex abuse are hard to prove. There is often not much in the way of physical evidence or witnesses. There may not be medical evidence. It often comes down to the word of the victim, who may not make sense of what happened to them until years later.
The criminal law standard that the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt— the highest standard of proof—further compounds the difficulty.
However, most civil cases only require the plaintiff to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence—a lighter burden of proof. This is why it’s possible to hold someone accountable for abuse through a civil suit even though a criminal conviction hasn’t been secured or wouldn’t be possible based on the available evidence.
Like other types of civil suits, you can use witness testimony, medical records, photographs, and other evidence to prove that abuse occurred.
Often, the testimony of the person who endured the abuse is critical. Their experience may be supported with documentation of their trauma and how they coped, such as by getting therapy and taking medication.
Here are some examples of evidence that one can use in a child sex abuse case:
- Testimony from witnesses to the abuse or its aftermath
- Testimony from other survivors of the same perpetrator
- Testimony from witnesses who observed changes in the child’s behavior at the time of the abuse
- Testimony from friends or family members who remember the child telling them about the abuse
- Medical records
- Photographic or video evidence
- Text, voice, or written communication from the abuser talking about the abuse
- Testimony from witnesses who observed the abuser behaving inappropriately or unusually at the time of the abuse
This evidence helps, but if you have lived through abuse and don’t have this evidence, we may still be able to help. We can also work with expert forensic psychologists, social workers, investigators, and others to help us find evidence.
Who Can I Sue for Sex Abuse in Maryland?
In Maryland, you can sue the person who abused you as a child. You may also be able to sue the institution that enabled or allowed the abuse to occur. Examples of potentially liable parties include:
- Religious institutions
- Private or public schools
- Sports teams
- Clubs or organizations
- Hospitals and other medical care facilities
Your lawyer can help identify the parties at fault for your childhood experience and against whom to file a lawsuit.
Maryland Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations
There is no statute of limitations for sex abuse lawsuits since the Maryland Child Victims Act of 2023 became law.
Under the old law, you couldn’t sue for child sex abuse after you reached age 38. Now, people of any age who experienced child sex abuse can file a lawsuit.
The new law also removes a previous bar on claims that had expired under previous laws. That means you can now sue for childhood sex abuse no matter how long ago the incident happened.
There’s also no time limit to bring criminal charges for child sex abuse in Maryland.
If you’re wondering how long you have to file a claim, talk to a lawyer. You may still be able to sue even if it took many years to recognize and understand what you experienced as a child.
How Common Is Sex Abuse in Maryland?
According to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 7,242 children were child abuse or neglect victims in 2020. Of those, 28.4 percent, or about 2,059 children, suffered sexual abuse.
These figures may be far less than the actual totals. Nationwide almost 60 percent of child sex abuse victims never disclose their abuse. Only one-third of child sexual abuse incidents are revealed, and even fewer are reported.
What Constitutes Sexual Abuse?
Child sex abuse does not have to involve touching a child, although that may be one type of abuse. It also includes attempted or completed abuse of a child by an adult. Abuse also includes activities intended to sexually stimulate the adult or the child or to make the child available for abuse by other adults.
The kinds of activities that can constitute abuse in Maryland include:
- Physical fondling
- Sexual intercourse
- Exposure of oneself to a child
- Masturbation in the presence of a minor
- Pressuring a child to engage in sexual acts
- Showing sexual images to a child
- Taking sexual images of a child
- Engaging in sexual conversation with a child
- Sex trafficking or commercial exploitation
Signs of Sex Abuse
There are some signs that a child may have experienced or is experiencing sexual abuse. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the signs can include:
- Excessive talk about sexual topics
- Not talking as much as usual
- Not wanting to be left alone with certain people
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- Not wanting to remove clothing to change or bathe
- Excessive worry
- Self-harming behaviors
Sudden changes in behavior, or a feeling that something is “off” with a child, can also be signs of sexual abuse.
Long-Term Effects of Sex Abuse
People who experience child sex abuse often experience long-term emotional, physical, and behavioral effects. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, these can include:
- Humiliation and guilt that can lead to depression or anxiety
- Intrusive thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks of the abuse
- The distorted belief they caused the abuse
- Chronic pain, especially in the abdomen or pelvis
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse issues
- Increased risk of becoming morbidly obese
People can also experience numerous negative long-term effects on their sexual health and interpersonal relationships.
Prominent Cases of Sex Abuse in Maryland
Several child sex abuse cases involving prominent Maryland institutions have come to light in the past decade.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore
In April 2023, a Maryland Attorney General report found that 150 Catholic priests and church associates sexually abused more than 600 children over 80 years. The Attorney General reviewed documents and evidence that went back to the 1940s.
At the time of the report’s release, the Archdiocese said it had already paid more than $13.2 million to abuse victims since the 1980s.
One victim recounted telling church officials in 1992 about her abuse, only to have the perpetrator go unpunished. The priest in question died in 2001 without ever having been criminally charged. He abused at least 39 people, according to the Attorney General’s report.
Boy Scouts of America
In March 2023, a federal district court judge approved a bankruptcy plan by the Boy Scouts of America. The $2.4 billion reorganization plan will address child sex abuse claims against the organization.
In 2012 a court first ordered the release of files regarding confidential sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts. Those records revealed that in 80 percent of the 500 cases, the scouting organization was the first to learn of the abuse, but there were no records of reports to the police.
According to a 2012 Baltimore Sun report, 90 cases of alleged abuse happened in Maryland.
The Boy Scouts first sought bankruptcy protection in February 2020. At that time, the organization reportedly knew of approximately 1,675 claims, with 275 lawsuits already filed. By March 2023, more than 80,000 men nationwide had filed abuse claims against troop leaders.
Why You Need a Maryland Sex Abuse Lawyer
A sex abuse lawyer knows how changes in the law affect lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who suffered child sex abuse. Your lawyer can help you at all stages of the process, including:
- Listening to what happened to you
- Discussing strategy for a legal case
- Gathering evidence, including witness testimony, physical evidence, and medical records
- Walking you through all stages of the case
- Advocating for you and protecting your rights
With a sex abuse lawyer working for you, you can focus on healing from your experience. Your lawyer can take care of seeking justice.
Why Choose Herman Law?
Few law firms in the country deal exclusively with sex abuse cases. Herman Law has made this area our focus for more than 25 years. Our attorneys are recognized across the United States as leading advocates of justice for sex abuse victims.
We have won over $200 million in settlements for our clients in sex abuse cases. We are nationwide advocates for people whose voices need to be heard.
We take cases on a contingency basis, which means you only pay if you receive compensation. Contact us now by email or call us at 1-866-902-4611 for a free, confidential consultation. Let us be your voice.