Sexual abuse is sadly far more common in our society than people believe. Studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males were sexually assaulted or sexually abused as a child. Due to the shocking nature of the crimes and the power that abusers hold over their victims, many cases don’t get reported. If you or your child has been a victim of sexual abuse, you can pursue justice with the support of a St. Petersburg sexual abuse lawyer.
A sexual abuse attorney will be able to assist you through this emotionally tough time and provide full support from legal assistance to mental health expert recommendations.
Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer
As parents or caregivers, we spend every day of our lives making sure our children are safe and in environments where they can flourish. But sometimes, our trust is broken in tragic circumstances. If your child is a victim, then contact child sexual abuse lawyers McQuaid & Douglas today for a free consultation.
What Is Considered Child Sexual Abuse in St. Petersburg, FL?
Any sexual activity involving a minor is a form of child abuse. A child cannot legally consent to sexual activity. An abuser who engages, forces, or coerces a child into a sexual act is committing a serious crime that typically has long-lasting effects for the victim. It is important to note that child sex abuse includes non-physical contact acts also.
Consent Definitions Under Florida Law:
- A person under 16 cannot legally consent to sex under any circumstances.
- A person 24 or older, or a person in a familial or custodial position of authority cannot receive consent from minors aged 16 and 17.
Common Forms of Child Sexual Abuse Include:
- Exhibitionism (Exposing their body to a minor)
- Fondling of a child’s body
- Forcing a minor into a sexual act
- Phone calls, text messages or online interaction
- Owning, sharing or producing pornographic media of children
- Sex of any kind with a minor
- Sex trafficking
- Any other sexual act that is damaging to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare
Places Where Child Sexual Abuse Commonly Occurs:
- Family Home
- Day-care Centers
- Churches and other religious facilities
- Sports Clubs
- Foster Care
- Medical Facilities
- Boys and Girls Clubs
Common Defendants in Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuits:
- After school/recreational programs: Organizations that have custody of your child have a responsibility to keep them safe. When this duty is breached, there is liability.
- Churches/Clergy: Child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been well documented, worldwide. But still, thousands of cases go unreported. The Church has reportedly paid around $3 billion in settlements to victims of sexual abuse from its members.
- Schools/Teachers: Shockingly, teachers are among the most frequently accused sexual abusers. Should a lawsuit be filed against them, they will be named both individually and as an employee for the school they worked at when the abuse occurred.
- Sports Organizations/Coaches: Sports coaches are often looked up to and trusted by their students, but there are still hundreds of sexual abuse cases. The most high profile being Larry Nassar at Michigan State University.
- Doctors: Doctors can easily exploit their power to manipulate their clients.
- Foster Parents: Heartbreakingly, there are many cases of foster parents abusing children. In these cases, both the foster parents and the foster care agencies will have lawsuits against them.
- Youth Groups: The Boy Scouts of America and many other large youth groups in the U.S. have gained a negative reputation following some high profile sexual abuse cases. They have paid out millions in settlements, including one that reached $18.5 million.
How Can Mental Health Experts Help If My Child Is a Victim of Sexual Abuse?
As St. Petersburg sexual abuse lawyers, we can refer you to some highly skilled and trusted psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who can help your child with the trauma of the abuse.
The use of mental health experts can also prove very valuable during a legal case, as their full understanding of the impact of abuse can be better articulated than solely the words of a minor. Most therapist that we work with will treat you or your child on a letter of protection. This means that their bill will be paid out of the settlement and you do not owe anything out of pocket as the case proceeds.
What Are the Legal Options If You Were Sexual Abused as a Child?
If you were sexually abused as a child, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the abuser or against the place where the abuser was employed. Sometimes, even if many years have passed since the incident(s), you may be able to claim financial compensation for the damages you’ve endured. If you would like to discuss the matters with a sexual abuse lawyer confidentially, then contact us today for a free consultation.