Over the past 20 years, there have been numerous reports of child abuse by members of both the Catholic and Protestant clergy. When we combine those reports with those detailing abuse by those in “positions of authority” such as athletic coaches at the high school and college level, we can see that what was once dismissed as the actions of a few “bad apples” is in reality nothing short of a “crime wave” that has washed over some of the nation’s most revered social institutions.
On this page, the child molestation lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will review the latest available data on child molestation. He will then review the legal options that may be available to victims of child molestation and/or their families.
Child molestation is one of, if not the, most underreported crimes, with only 1-10% ever disclosed to parents or law enforcement
90% of child molestation victims know their assailant
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18
In 67% of all sexual assault cases reported to a law enforcement agency, the victim was younger than 18 years of age
Children with physical disability and/or cognitive impairment are 3 times more likely to be sexually abused than non-disabled children
With these stats in mind, we can turn to the legal proceedings that are avail to child molestation and their families.
What are my options if I, or a family member, have been a victim of child molestation?
As little as 25 years ago, many reports of child molestation were either dismissed as the product of a child’s imagination or, if the report seemed to be credible, the victim was told to say nothing and the offender was allowed to resign or, in the case of Catholic clergy, reassigned to another parish. Fortunately, for the victims, things are different now and victims of child molestation have several options available.
Although the “wording” of the various laws are different, child molestation is a crime in every state and usually carries a minimum of several years in prison upon conviction. However, getting a conviction against an accused child molester is not as easy as you might think.
First of all, many child molestations are not reported until several years after the incident. This means that theStatutes of Limitations, which define the time limits under which a prosecution must begin, may have “run out.” Even though some states have special provisions in their criminal codes regarding child molestation, it is difficult to win a conviction several years after the event.
Secondly, a criminal defense attorney will always raise the issue of “why now.” This means that he or she will attack the victim’s credibility on several fronts such as the victim’s memory or the possibility that the victim may have been “coached” as to what to say to a Grand Jury or when questioned in open court.
Regardless of the status of a criminal prosecution, it is usually possible to file a civil lawsuit against an alleged molester. In fact, a civil lawsuit may have several advantages over a criminal prosecution, such as:
The Statutes of Limitations under which a civil lawsuit must be filed are usually longer than those that govern criminal trials.
The “burden of proof” is easier to meet in a civil lawsuit.
A civil lawsuit allows additional defendants to be named if it is alleged that these “third parties” knew that molestation was occurring but did not take steps to halt the abuse.
Civil lawsuits allow the victim of child molestation to ask the court to award damages whereas a criminal court can only fine a convicted defendant, with the fine going to the state rather than the victim.
It isn’t unusual for both a criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit to progress through the courts at the same time. In fact, a criminal conviction makes a civil lawsuit easier to win. The timing and circumstances of filing a civil lawsuit while a criminal case may be “in the system” is a matter that must be discussed with a lawyer familiar with both the criminal and civil courts of the state where the molestation took place.
Contacting a child molestation lawyer
On this page we have presented an overview of child molestation statistics and briefly looked at the roles of criminal prosecution versus a civil lawsuit in these cases.
If you, or your child, have been a victim of child molestation, we invite you to contact the child molestation lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide law practice with offices in major cities throughout the country.
At the Doan Law Firm, we understand that admitting to having been a victim of child molestation can be as traumatic as the actual molestation itself. Therefore, we will take full advantage of your state’s privacy laws to conceal the identity of you and/or your child in any court documents and will not reveal the identities of anyone connected to your child molestation lawsuit unless we have your consent or we are required to do so by a court.
We also understand that a successful child molestation lawsuit will require resources that are beyond those available to the typical family. That is why we at the Doan Law Firm are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your child molestation for trial in exchange for a previously agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.