Legal Representation for Child Sex Abuse Survivors in San Diego
To most of us, child sex abuse is an unimaginable crime. Tragically, it happens much too frequently. In California alone, there were 42,364 reported cases of child sexual abuse in a single recent year, as reported on kidsdata.org. At jD LAW, we are dedicated to protecting children and seeking justice for child sex abuse survivors.
It is illegal to willfully engage in any lewd or lascivious act with a minor in California under Penal Code 288. Lewd and lascivious acts are those of an indecent or sexual nature. When a person is charged with lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, it may be referred to as child molestation.
Our role at jD LAW, is to hold child sex abusers accountable for the harm they have caused, as well as those individuals and organizations who failed to prevent or stop the abuse. Perpetrators in cases we handle include:
- Priests and religious workers
- Teachers and classroom aides
- Medical professionals (doctors, chiropractors)
- Daycare workers
- Scout troop leaders
- School security guards
- Relatives of the victim
Child molestation may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor child molestation carries penalties of up to 364 days in county jail and fines of up to $5,000. The charge might be felony child molestation if the perpetrator entered an inhabited dwelling without the owner’s consent to commit the crime. A person convicted of felony child molestation may face a prison sentence of up to three years and up to $5,000 in fines.
In a civil lawsuit to recover damages for child sex abuse, the victim is only required to establish liability by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means the jury must find that it is more likely than not that the defendant sexually abused the victim. Elements of a successful claim may include:
- Evidence to prove the abuse occurred
- Evidence to prove the emotional and psychological damage
- Assets available to the perpetrator from which the judgment could be collected
In some cases, evidence is available to support the victim’s memory of the abuse. For example, someone may have witnessed the abuse or been a victim of the same abuser. The perpetrator may have confessed to other adults. After the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution has passed, the abuser may feel safe to talk about the abuse.
For people who have been sexually abused as children, the effects can last well into adulthood. In many cases, years pass before survivors recognize the link between the sexual abuse they suffered in the past and the challenges they are facing in the present. These challenges may include:
- Difficulty maintaining relationships
- Difficulty holding a job
- Inability to finish school
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders
- Self-destructive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
The prevalence of child sex abuse and the magnitude of the problem are alarming. The following facts about child sexual abuse are provided by Darkness to Light.
- Approximately one in 10 children will be abused by their 18th birthday.
- Approximately one in 7 girls and one in 25 boys will be abused before the age of 18.
- Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults are committed against children ages 17 and younger.
- 44% of victims of rape with penetration are children under age 18.
- Victims younger than 12 account for 15% of people raped, and 29% of rape victims are between the ages of 12 and 17.
- Approximately 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser.
- Approximate 30% of child sex abuse victims are abused by family members.
Children may suppress memories of sexual abuse. It may take years for victims to recognize how the abuse they suffered as children is affecting them as adults. Thankfully, as of January 2020, the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse has changed. Survivors have until they reach the age of 40, or five years after the discovery of the abuse, to file a claim in civil court. The updated law also allows a three-year window to revive claims that were initially barred by the statute of limitations.
If you are a survivor of child sex abuse, contact jD LAW, at (760) 630-2000 for a free consultation. Our San Diego personal injury attorneys are fierce advocates for child sex abuse victims.
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