Sexual abuse of children is a criminal offense, but just because the abuser is not arrested and charged does not mean that the victim cannot pursue a civil lawsuit. Child sex abuse ruins lives. While a criminal case requires a standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” when it comes to the defendant’s actions, the standard for a civil lawsuit is the preponderance of the evidence.
Child sex abusers run the gamut. They are often relatives, teachers, coaches, members of the clergy, and volunteers in organizations focusing on children. These are people children are supposed to trust, and instead they are heinously betrayed.
The trauma of child sex abuse affects a person’s entire life. They may suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and difficulty forming intimate relationships. Physical issues also arise. At Showard Law Firm, we have experience handling these cases and realize how difficult it is for many child sex abuse victims to come forward. We are here to protect your rights and help you receive justice for the harm done to you.
What Qualifies As Child Sex Abuse?
Child sex abuse takes many forms. Child rape is just one horrifying aspect. Many predators use psychological intimidation to force children to engage in sex acts. They may threaten to harm a child’s family or pet if the child does not comply.
Any kind of pornographic activity concerning children is abusive. The predator may not have sexual contact with the child per se but may encourage or force youngsters to take part in sexual activity between themselves.
Not all child sex abuse cases involve direct physical contact. Indecent exposure can traumatize a child even if no actual touching is involved. The same holds true in showing pornographic material to a child.
Signs of Child Sex Abuse
Children who are being sexually abused often exhibit behavioral changes, such as mimicking sexual play with other kids or toys. They may have trouble sleeping or become problem eaters. Perhaps they refuse to remove clothing when appropriate, such as before a bath. Any sort of inappropriate sexual knowledge is a red flag.
If a child obtains toys or money with no good explanation of where they got it, that is another concern.
Who Is Liable for Child Sex Abuse?
While the predator is obviously liable for the abuse inflicted, they may not be the only ones responsible.
Schools and daycare centers have a duty to protect their students. Common organizations with a similar duty to protect children include the Boy Scouts, summer camps, churches, orphanages, and other groups focused on youngsters.
For instance, if a summer camp did not perform its due diligence and hired someone known or suspected of sexual predation, they enabled the situation and may be held liable. The lawsuit must provide evidence that someone in authority knew of the abuse and ignored it, or attempted to cover it up.
Arizona Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse Cases
Prior to May 2019, child sex abuse victims had until age 20 – two years from the date of their 18th birthday – in which to file a lawsuit against their abuser or the abuser’s enablers. A new Arizona law now gives child sex abuse victims ten more years in which to file a lawsuit, until they reach age 30.
Unfortunately, child sex abuse victims over age 30 cannot file a lawsuit against the predator. Arizona did provide a brief time period for those over 30 to file such a lawsuit, but the filing deadline was December 31, 2020.
Parents of sexually abused children may file a lawsuit. Again, the statute of limitations is 180 days from the date of the alleged abuse if a public school is involved. Otherwise, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is two years from the date of the incident.
Child Sex Abuse Damages
Damages, or compensation, for child sexual abuse may include:
- Medical treatment expenses
- Psychological counseling costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Costs of treating PTSD or similar conditions linked to the abuse
Child sexual abuse victims often suffer from long-term physical problems stemming from their abuse. This may include reproductive issues, gastrointestinal difficulties, or chronic pain. Money cannot heal damage to the body or psyche. A civil lawsuit is also a way to hold the predator accountable for the terrible harm done. That accountability has its own rewards.
Contact a Southern Arizona Child Sex Abuse Lawyer
If you were the victim of child sex abuse, contact a compassionate child sexual abuse lawyer at Showard Law Firm as soon as possible. We offer free, confidential consultations. Arrange an appointment by calling or texting 24/7 or completing our online form. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless you receive compensation.
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