San Antonio Child Sex Abuse Lawyer
Child sexual abuse can result in very serious consequences for victims. If someone sexually abused your child, a knowledgeable and compassionate child sex abuse attorney in San Antonio at Wyatt Law Firm can meet with you to discuss the incident. Our legal team understands the trauma that often comes with child sexual abuse cases and can help you develop a plan for moving forward and getting your child the compensation they need.
Child Victims of Sexual Abuse in San Antonio Can Recover Monetary Compensation and Damages
Child sexual abuse, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, otherwise known as NCTSN, refers to an interaction between a child and an adult where the adult uses the child for sexual stimulation either for the offending adult or for some other person. Child sexual abuse can involve fondling, touching, kissing, rubbing, direct physical contact, penetration, oral sex, or some combination. It can involve photographing or video recording them while naked or engaging in sexual activity.
In some instances, a child sex offender might receive stimulation by exposing themselves to a child. At other times, the gratification may come from watching a child remove their clothing. Even though a child sexual abuser may not use any physical force on the child, the abuser might use certain coercive methods, including threats, deception, and play, to convince a child to remain silent about the abuse
In Texas, a child under 17 cannot legally consent to sexual activity. Under the law, a child under 17 does not have the emotional or mental maturity necessary to engage in sexual activity. Even if a child chooses to engage in sexual activity with an adult, if the child is less than 17 years of age, the law considers the act non-consensual.
Child sexual abuse continues to be an unfortunate problem in Texas and throughout the country. In fact, according to statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime, which is in Washington D.C., approximately five percent of boys and 20 percent of girls are victims of sexual abuse that occurs at the hands of an adult. The saddest part about these abuse cases is that the abuse often occurs at the hands of someone whom the child’s parents previously trusted. For example, caregivers, such as at a daycare, can commit acts of sexual abuse. Abuse can also occur at the hands of educators, pastors, priests, and other church authorities.
Institutions, such as daycare facilities, schools, and churches, must perform background checks and tests on prospective employees. When they fail to take the necessary precautions and an act of abuse occurs at the hands of a once-trusted employee, the institution can be liable for the harm that the child experienced. Moreover, if an institution or authority figure learns of sexual abuse between a child and an employee, the institution must report the incident to the proper authorities. If that does not happen, you can hold the institution responsible.
Long-term Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse
Victims of child sexual abuse can suffer serious consequences that may impact them well into their lives. In many instances, the abuser will try to convince the child that the sexual activity is natural and normal. The abuser might also tell the child to keep the abuse a secret.
However, later on in life, the child may suffer serious emotional distress, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An adult who was previously the victim of sexual abuse might feel that they contributed to the abuse or that it was somehow their fault.
Child sexual abuse survivors often require numerous years of psychological or psychiatric counseling. They can also suffer physically and may have difficulty fostering emotional relationships later on in their adult lives. The healing process following an incident of child sexual abuse can be long and arduous.
Child Sexual Abuse FAQs
#1. What Are the Potential Penalties for Criminal Child Sexual Abuse?
In Texas, child sexual abuse is a criminal offense. Therefore, in addition to potential institutional liability, convicted child sexual abuse offenders can receive serious long-term penalties. For example, under Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code, a conviction for child sexual abuse can result in between two and 20 years of incarceration, along with a maximum monetary fine of $10,000.
This is true even in cases where the abuser does not ever make physical contact with the child. For example, when an offender solicits a minor for sexual activities online, he or she can face felony charges, resulting in a hefty fine and significant prison time. The same is true when an offender possesses child pornography.
While these penalties may bring justice to child sex abuse survivors, they will not directly pay for the damages they sustained from hospital bills and years of therapy to the pain and suffering they endured. For that, you want to call the compassionate San Antonio child sexual abuse lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm and initiate a civil claim.
#2. What Is Institutional Liability for Child Sexual Abuse?
Institutions, including churches, daycare centers, and schools, must hire capable and responsible employees who do not have a history of violence or sexual assault. These institutions must perform background checks on prospective employees and subject them to a battery of psychological and psychiatric tests. When an institution knew or should have known that an employee was likely to sexually abuse a child, the hiring institution might be responsible if an act of abuse later occurs.
#3. How Does One Prove Institutional Liability for Child Sexual Abuse?
Proving that an institution should be responsible for an incident of child sexual abuse can be a difficult task. This is especially true when an abuse victim is dealing with a large and powerful institution, such as the Catholic Church. When that happens, you need a knowledgeable San Antonio child sexual abuse lawyer from the Wyatt Law Firm on your side who has experience dealing with these cases and taking them to court if necessary.
For a child sexual abuse victim to bring a successful civil claim against an institution, the abuse victim must satisfy the necessary legal burden of proof. This may seem counterintuitive since the abuse victim is the individual who suffered the harm. However, as the plaintiff in a civil case, the abuse victim will need to show that the institution acted unreasonably under the circumstances.
Essentially, this means that the institution did or failed to:
- Prevent sexual abuse in the first place
- Immediately terminate the employee who sexually abused a child
- Perform criminal background checks on employees before hiring them
- Properly monitor and supervise employees to prevent abuse
- Reassign an employee with a known history of sexually abusing children (such as when members of the Catholic Church hierarchy would move priests from parish to parish despite knowing their history of sexually abusing children)
The key to proving that an institution should be liable for an incident of child sexual abuse is showing that the institution knew or should have known that the abuse happened or that it was actively going on. In addition, the child abuse victim must demonstrate that he or she suffered some type of harm as a result of the abuse incident. For example, the child abuse victim might have experienced some sort of physical harm, psychological harm, or emotional harm as a result of the abuse.
Filing a lawsuit arising from an incident of child sexual abuse can be an extremely emotional and traumatizing event. Consequently, if you are contemplating taking legal action against an institution, you must have knowledgeable legal counsel representing you every step of the way. Powerful institutions have strong legal advocates zealously protecting their interests, and you should have that, too.
A knowledgeable San Antonio child sexual abuse attorney at Wyatt Law Firm can fight for your right to recover the compensation that you need for sexual abuse that should have never occurred in the first place.
#4. What Is the Civil Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Cases in Texas?
Previously in Texas, victims of child sexual abuse and assault had a period of 15 years to file a claim or lawsuit. The statute began to run on the date of the abuse victim’s 18th birthday. However, back in 2019, Texas legislators extended the statute of limitation. The effect of this extension now gives child sex abuse victims more time in which to file their lawsuits.
Under the new law, victims of child sexual abuse have 30 years from the date of their 18th birthday in which to sue. Under the original version of the bill, nonprofit organizations, including churches, were exempt. However, after sexual abuse victims protested, the state legislature amended the statute to include these institutions.
If someone sexually abused or raped your child, take legal action right away. Physical evidence and memories can fade significantly over time. Since it can take a significant amount of time for a lawyer to put together a viable case, you should speak with a compassionate child sexual abuse attorney in San Antonio as soon as possible who can best advise you on how to proceed with your case.
What Are the Potential Damages in Civil Child Sexual Abuse Cases?
Acts of child sexual abuse are heinous and can damage an abuse victim for many years. For a child sexual abuse victim to recover damages, he or she must show that an individual or institution is legally liable. When the abuse victim can prove his or her case, monetary remedies for physical, emotional, mental, and financial harm may be available to him/her.
Damages that a child sexual abuse victim can recover include compensation for lost wages the victim incurred during the physical and emotional healing process, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and mental anxiety that resulted from the abuse, relocation expenses, emotional and physical scars, medical and hospitalization costs, and medically recommended emotional or psychological treatment.
In cases where there is the potential institutional liability for an act of child sexual abuse, the institution’s insurance company will likely be providing the necessary coverage. Dealing with these institutions and their insurance companies can prove to be exceedingly difficult.
The insurance company will offer as little money as possible to resolve the claim. Insurance companies, after all, do not make money by paying out large settlements and jury verdicts. Therefore, the abuse victim’s lawyer and the insurance company adjuster (or an attorney) will likely have to engage in several rounds of negotiations before the parties can reach a favorable settlement.
If the parties cannot reach a settlement that fully and fairly compensates the abuse victim, the abuse victim’s lawyer can file a lawsuit in the Texas court. The case would then proceed through litigation and go to trial. At trial, the jury will decide the outcome of all disputed issues in the case. The parties might alternatively elect to take the case before an arbitrator who will decide the damages that the accident victim should receive.
The experienced child sexual abuse attorneys in San Antonio at Wyatt Law Firm are here to protect you and your child and get you the compensation you deserve for everything you went through.
Talk with a Compassionate Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer in San Antonio Today
The skilled and compassionate legal team at Wyatt Law Firm understands the emotional distress and trauma associated with child sexual abuse legal matters. We also understand how difficult it can be to step forward. You and your child may rest assured that our team is always here for you and will fight for your right to get the justice and compensation that you deserve.
For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with a knowledgeable San Antonio ridesharing accident attorney, please give us a call today at (210) 340-5550 or contact us online for more information.
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Wyatt Law Firm, PLLC
21 Lynn Batts Lane, Suite 10
San Antonio, Texas 78218