Child Sexual Abuse: How Does it Happen?
Cases of childhood sexual abuse are more specialized than cases involving adult victims, and the best child sexual abuse lawyers know how they are different. The lawyers may not see the clients until a long time after the abuse has happened because kids are even more frightened of reporting sexual abuse than adults.
Also, adults may not be aware of the abuse because child molesters usually do not use physical violence in assaulting child victims of sexual abuse. They don’t have to because they typically know the children and have worked hard to get the victims to trust them.
Some children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse than others. Predators look for situations where they can get away with it and that’s easier with kids who don’t have strong support systems.
Victims often include:
- Children with disabilities
- Children with an absent or deceased parent
- Children in foster care
- Children from families with violence or substance abuse issues;
- Runaway children;
- Children from low-income families whose parents have to work more than one job
The perpetrator of child sexual abuse will sense that the child is vulnerable, and develop a “special relationship” with that child. Then they begin a process of “grooming” where they make the child feel important, grown up and valued.
The abuse often does not begin for quite some period of time. When the abuse does start, it is common for the abuser to threaten that if the child tells, no one will believe her, or that harm will come to her family or herself.
Child Sexual Abuse: Who is Legally Responsible?
Of course, the abuser is primarily responsible, but as child sexual abuse lawyers we often can prove that an institution with control over the perpetrator was negligent and played a role in the abuse. For example, a school, church or camp may have failed to supervise the perpetrator, or failed to provide adequate training so that other staff could be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
Sometimes in investigating cases of child sexual abuse, we find that children or their parents complained to people in charge of a school or a health care facility, but their complaints were not taken seriously and were not investigated. That may have allowed the abuse to continue, and to happen to other victims.
Or, we have found that some institutions have investigated and have confirmed the charges, but they have failed to report the crime to police and have failed to take any effective disciplinary action against the abuser. Some employers have given an abuser a positive recommendation to help him get a new job. Some employers fail to conduct a proper investigation before hiring someone who will have access to children.
Many celebrities have recently revealed that they were sexually abused as children. Oprah Winfrey, Ashley Judd, Queen Latifah, Teri Hatcher, Tom Arnold, Carlos Santana, Axl Rose, and Tyler Perry.
What Happens in a Legal Claim of Child Sexual Abuse?
Lawyers for child sexual abuse victims have to make decisions that don’t have to be made in cases where adults have been abused. For example, a child cannot bring a lawsuit in his own name, but needs to have a guardian ad litem appointed. If a child is awarded money damages to compensate for pain and suffering, or to pay for counseling, the funds need to be managed by someone trustworthy.
If the case is in court, issues can arise about whether the child needs to testify and under what circumstances, and whether the abuser can be present when the child testifies. Further, there can be issues about mental and physical examinations of the child.
When all of these questions arise, you want to be sure that you and your family are comfortable with the attorney that is chosen to represent your child. This is definitely not a decision to take lightly.
How We Can Help
Our law firm regularly handles cases for children who have been sexually abused. We take them to court and are ready to go to trial if necessary. Contact us today to see how we can help you and your family.
Many of the cases we have handled involve confidential information that can’t go on a website, but the ones we can talk about include:
- Jane Doe 2 v. Burke County Schools: A seven-year-old girl was victimized by a teacher who videotaped her at school in a closed room taking a “taste test” of his semen. Her photos were later discovered on the internet.
- Doe 200 v. Diocese of Raleigh: A 16-year old boy alleged that he was abused by his priest, who befriended his family and spent the night in their home.
- T.S. and D.H. v. The Young Men’s Christian Association of the Triangle, Inc. and Justin Taylor: Two boys who participated in the Jones Day Elementary School after-school program run by the YMCA were molested by Justin Taylor, who had been employed by the YMCA for three years. Taylor molested at least three boys and was suspected of abusing more.