What Is Child Sexual Assault And Who Can Be Held Responsible

Various factors have contributed to childhood sexual abuse being one of the most underreported crimes, including the fact that over ninety percent of all childhood sexual assaults are perpetrated by a person personally known to the child or their family. And while the underreporting prevents us from knowing exactly how prevalent these heinous crimes are, most studies show that almost 10 percent of all children have been the victims of sexual assault.

Following some very high profile child sexual abuse scandals, including the Penn State scandal, as well as the USA Gymnastics and the Boy Scouts of America sex abuse scandals, many states, including California, took a second look at their laws and made significant changes. In California, the state legislature passed the California Child Victims Act, which came into effect on January 1, 2020. The new law makes it easier for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold perpetrators and organizations responsible for the abuse by extending the time victims have to file a claim. Moreover, the new law expands the definition from “childhood sexual abuse” to “childhood sexual assault,” which has broadened the scope of behaviors that could be actionable.

By law, children cannot consent to any type of sexual activity and any sexual interaction with a minor can be considered sexual assault. As a result, childhood sexual assault can take many forms and can be both physical, where there is a direct sexual contact with a child, as well as non-physical, where the perpetrator does not actually touch the victim.

Examples of physical contact that constitutes sexual assault include:

  • Sexual activity of any kind including oral, vaginal, and anal;
  • Intrusion or penetration with an object;
  • Groping or intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts of a child by the perpetrator and vice versa, for purposes of sexual arousal or gratification.

Examples of non-physical contact abuse include:

  • Engaging in sexual activity in front of a child, including masturbation;
  • Exposing a child to sexually explicit materials, including photos and videos;
  • The solicitation of sexual favors from a child;
  • Forcing a child to participate in sexual acts with others;
  • Communicating with a child using sexually suggestive language;
  • Exposure or flashing of private parts.

At the Justice Firm, our compassionate attorneys understand that childhood sexual assault is one of the most harrowing and horrific experiences. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a childhood sexual assault, you can contact us for a free confidential consultation locally at (310) 914-2444 or at our Toll-Free number at (866) 695-6714, or click here.

In the past couple of decades more and more survivors of childhood sexual abuse have started to come forward and the bravery of these individuals has shown that previously held believes that childhood sexual abuse is a family problem were wrong. In fact, what has been uncovered is that childhood sexual abuse has been rampant across various private and public organizations and that there has been a vast organized culture of secrecy, where, for the most part, organizations have chosen to deal with the allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse by “sweeping them under the rug” in one way or another.

Certain institutions and organizations owe a duty of care to the children entrusted to them, and they have not only failed to protect them, but also, in many instances, have actively attempted to or have actually covered up the widespread abuse, by “dealing” with it internally. Some of the most common childhood sexual abuse includes:

  • Clergy abuse, including child sexual abuse by priests, pastors, ministers, nuns, or other members of a religious organization;
  • School abuse, including by teachers, coaches, other school employees, or fellow students;
  • Daycare, camp, or foster care abuse;
  • Abuse in Athletics; and
  • Abuse in medical settings, including by doctors or therapists.

The California Child Victims Act makes it easier for victims to assert a claim against private and public institutions who owed them a duty of care, which includes among others, religious institutions, sports teams, schools, and even the state in cases of foster care abuse. The so-called institutional liability flows through the acts of the perpetrators themselves, including coaches, priests, teachers, and others, and the failure of the institution to protect the victims by not thoroughly investigating and handling instances of childhood sexual assault, as well as failure to implement adequate safeguards to prevent sexual misconduct in the first place.

Finally under the new California Child Victims Act, survivors of childhood sexual abuse can receive up to triple the amount of damages awarded, if they can show that there was a concerted effort by the responsible institution to hide evidence relating to childhood sexual assault.

If you or a loved one is a survivor of childhood sexual assault and would like to know more about your legal options, you can contact us today locally at (310) 914-2444 or at our Toll-Free number at (866) 695-6714, or click here.

At the Justice Firm, our empathetic and compassionate attorneys can provide a safe environment where you can receive a compassionate and confidential case assessment.

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