Childhood sexual abuse is a painful and traumatic experience, whether happened it once or more than once. Many children are abused at the hands of an adult, and such abuse often leaves survivors with life-changing emotional and physical damage that requires treatment and therapy. If you are an adult victim of childhood sexual abuse, please know you still have options to seek justice.
If you suspect your child has been sexually abused, the first step is to report this crime to law enforcement or Child Protective Services. Next, please consider contacting Greenberg Gross to discuss your rights and legal options. We vow to fight exhaustively to secure the financial compensation you or your child are entitled to for your suffering.
The California Child Victim’s Act: Justice for Fresno Child Sexual Abuse Survivors
Lawmakers passed the California Child Victims Act (CA AB-218) in 2019. This law increased the statute of limitations for prosecuting childhood sexual assaults to 22 years after the survivor turns 18 years old or up to age 40. Additionally, survivors also have five years from the date they recognize the adverse psychological effects of the abuse, even if they are older than age 40.
This law also created a three-year “look back” window, in which sexual abuse claims that passed the previous statute of limitations deadline could be brought against an abuser and other liable parties. This window is set to expire on December 31, 2023.
Recoverable Compensation in a Fresno Child Sexual Abuse Case
Crimes against a minor include sexual exploitation, solicitation, sexual battery, and others. In a criminal case, the state’s prosecutor has the final say in whether reported incidents of child sexual abuse are investigated and prosecuted. Criminal cases are meant to catch offenders, prevent them from future misconduct, and punish them for wrongdoing.
Nevertheless, such cases aren’t directly meant to compensate the survivors of these crimes. However, state funds are available from the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) to help sexual abuse survivors financially. That said, survivors of these criminal acts do not have to accept only state compensation. They may also directly sue their perpetrator or the parties who enabled them.
Recoverable damages in a case against a child sexual abuser may include:
- Current and future medical bills—emergency care, tests, doctor’s visits, medication, psychotherapy, etc.
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Psycho-emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
- Punitive damages for malice, oppression, or fraud
Monetary compensation can never fully heal the wounds that childhood sexual assault leaves. However, it can help you cover the losses you incurred and ease some of your stress as you move forward.
Should You Consider Coming Forward After Fresno Child Sexual Abuse Occurs?
Survivors of child sexual abuse often carry deep psychological wounds that lead to frequent episodes of emotional distress. Unfortunately, some stigma against survivors of sexual abuse still exists, and shame may deter them from reporting the crimes committed against them.
Alternatively, because child sexual abuse can occur at any age up to 18, very young survivors may not realize what they experienced was a crime. By the time they realize they were abused, it could be many years since the abuse occurred. Moreover, even when a child comes forward to report the abuse, they face the possibility that people won’t believe them.
If you are a sexual abuse survivor, it is entirely your decision whether you should come forward and identify the people who hurt you or allowed your abuse to happen. If you do so, however, you may finally get some sense of peace while helping others come forward who were encouraged to follow your example.
Determining Liability in a Fresno Sexual Abuse Case
In civil cases, those pursuing compensation need only prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the other party is liable for their injuries and losses. This means the court must determine if it is more likely than not that the claimant is telling the truth.
Often, a duty of care applies in these cases. That is, a person or party owed you or your child a duty of care to ensure you or they were not harmed. If the accused failed in their duty and directly caused you or your child’s physical or emotional injuries, they could be held liable for any losses. Once these losses are identified and quantified, they can be claimed as damages in a lawsuit.
Liable Individual Abusers
Child sexual abuse most commonly involves an adult and a child, but not always. Older children can also sexually abuse younger children. Often, someone in a position of power abuses a child. For this reason, many common perpetrators of child sexual abuse are those in leadership positions—especially in the community and activities that involve children.
In these cases, potential child sexual abusers could be:
- School faculty members
- Sports, gymnastics, and cheerleading coaches
- Boy Scout or Girl Scout and other youth camp leaders
- Daycare workers
- Church leaders or clergy members
- Foster parents and stepparents
- Relatives, e.g., aunts, uncles, and grandparents
- Neighbors and their visitors
- Convicted and released sex offenders
- Underage relatives, e.g., siblings and cousins,
- Healthcare workers, e.g., doctors and therapists
- Peers, bullies, and older/stronger children or teenagers
Any individuals who perpetrated sexual abuse against you or your child could be held liable for compensation in a lawsuit. Our Fresno child sexual abuse lawyer could help you identify these losses and pursue justice on your behalf.
Liable Third Parties
Many potential child sexual abusers are employed by organizations through which they exert power over the children they abuse. Because of this, the abuser’s employer or coworkers may be partially liable for the abuse. Those who turn a blind eye to abuse are complicit.
Furthermore, employers must vet anyone they hire to ensure they don’t have a history of abusive acts. If an organization suspects one of its members committed these crimes, it must investigate them.
If a third party directly or indirectly aided your or your child’s abuser, this entity could also be held liable for the abuse, such as the following:
- Academic institutions, such as K-12 public and private schools, colleges, and universities
- Religious institutions, such as churches and church-related youth groups
- Juvenile detention centers
- Daycare centers
- Scouting troops, summer camps, and youth and athletic clubs
- Businesses where underage persons work, such as fast food restaurants, grocery stores, etc.
Call Us – Our Fresno Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer Is Ready to Help
At Greenberg Gross, we are committed to helping child abuse survivors forge a path toward healing and reclaiming their lives. We pride ourselves on fostering a safe, comfortable, and confidential environment where you can be assured that victims are always heard and treated with compassion.
If you are considering pursuing economic justice for your losses, you should be represented by a compassionate, supportive team of legal professionals. Call us for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your rights and options.