New York Sexual Abuse Attorney
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No parent wants to imagine his or her child is a victim of sexual abuse. This is one of the most tragic experiences a person can undergo. When sexual abuse happens to a child, parents may feel at a loss as to how to proceed. It is possible to file criminal and civil charges against the alleged perpetrator for child sexual abuse. It is not only a crime in New York City but also an act of civil negligence or wrongdoing. Pursuing both types of claims can lead to punishment for the offender’s actions as well as financial compensation for your family. For help with these serious cases, come to Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP, to speak to a New York City sexual abuse lawyer.
What is child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse is any sexual act with a minor under the age of 17. It is a criminal offense that includes contact and non-contact forms of sexual conduct. Sexual abuse is one of the most traumatic experiences a child can face. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four girls and one in thirteen boys experience child sex abuse. These heinous acts are committed by individuals known to the child or family 91% of the time.
Types of Sexual Abuse
An adult or older child can perpetrate sexual abuse.
Incest is sexual contact between members of the same family. It is illegal in New York, even between consenting adults. Incest is the most common form of child sexual abuse. It sometimes occurs between siblings but is most often perpetrated by fathers against daughters and stepdaughters.
Pedophiles are adults who are attracted to prepubescent children and form trusting relationships with the victims and their parents. This process is called grooming. Pedophiles often work in trusted positions around children and groom parents by meeting needs such as babysitting. They tend to have multiple victims.
Pedophiles groom children through charm and manipulation. They gain the child’s trust by offering friendship, affection, special outings, gifts, flattery, and privileges. The pedophile then exploits the child’s trust and initiates abuse while using guilt, shame, and manipulation to keep the child in the relationship and prevent disclosure.
Exhibitionism and Voyeurism
Exhibitionism refers to the perpetrator showing their genitals to the child. Voyeurism is viewing the child partially or fully naked, with or without the child’s knowledge.
Exposure to Pornography
Showing children sexually explicit images is sexual abuse. This includes sending pictures to children through the internet or other electronic media.
Commercial exploitation of children is sexual abuse for financial gain. This includes the production of child pornography, the selling of children to sexual predators, and forced participation in prostitution.
Who are the perpetrators of sexual abuse?
Sexual predators come from all walks of life. There are no set characteristics to identify them. They look like everyday people. They are in our families, social circles, churches, and communities.
Approximately half of all sexually abused children under the age of 11 are abused by family members. Children ages 12–17 are abused by family members 24.3% of the time.
Despite thousands of credible allegations of sexual abuse against priests, the Catholic church has continued to protect these individuals from prosecution. Sadly, they are not the only ones. There have been widespread reports of sexual abuse by clergy, volunteers, and missionaries with subsequent shielding of perpetrators in several protestant denominations.
Trusted adults in public schools, including administrators, teachers, and coaches, have been implicated in millions of sexual abuse cases. These professionals exploit their students’ trust to engage in and continue this grievous conduct.
Boy Scout Leaders
The Boy Scouts of America covered up decades of sexual abuse, shielding thousands of abusers from investigators and parents. As many as 60,000 victims have come forward.
CBS News identified 578 reported sexual abuse cases at children’s summer camps over the last 55 years. Experts say this is the tip of the iceberg, as two out of three cases of child molestation go unreported.
Signs Of Child Sexual Abuse
The first step toward justice for your sexual abuse case is recognizing that it is occurring. Unless your loved one comes forward and talks openly about his or her victimization, it may be up to you to notice signs of sexual abuse and make the first move. No matter the age of your child, there are certain signs of abuse for which you can watch. In fact, New York passed a new law increasing the age a victim can report sex abuse, giving victims more time to come forward. As soon as you notice something amiss, speak with your child about the matter. Then, pursue justice for sexual abuse allegations through the police and a personal injury lawyer.
Here are a few things that may point to sexual abuse:
- Physical signs: Bruising on the upper thighs, difficulty walking, injuries to the genital areas and bloody underwear may all point to sexual abuse. Watch for physical changes in your child such as unexplained injuries or rapid weight loss or gain. Take your child to a doctor for any physical evidence you believe points to abuse. Keep medical records for future use.
- Emotional signs: Sexual abuse often does more emotional harm than physical. Myriad emotional changes in your child could potentially point to abuse. Look for depression, anxiety, anger, feelings of guilt or shame, nightmares, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, secretive actions and low self-esteem.
- Behavioral signs: Watch for sudden changes in your child’s behavior, such as poor performance at school or violent outbursts. Compulsive eating, lack of personal hygiene, running away from home, self-injury, lack of interest in favorite hobbies, and age-inappropriate sexual behaviors or knowledge can all indicate abuse.
Any behavior change is cause for concern. Children’s responses vary, but the most common indications are as follows:
- Physical symptoms such as sexually transmitted infections or genital trauma
- Inappropriate sexual behavior or knowledge
- Aversion to being alone with certain individuals
- Regressive behavior
- Aversion to clothing changes
- Changes in appetite, mood, or personality
- Decreased confidence
Indications of sexual abuse against teens include the following:
- Changes in eating habits and weight
- Unexplained bruises
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Changes in grades, appearance, or hygiene
- Drinking or drug use
- Reduced academic performance
The moment you suspect sexual abuse in your family, talk to the proper authorities. Report your suspicions to the police or to the employer of the alleged offender. If the perpetrator is an employee at a school or day care center, take your case to the company. Sexual abuse is a criminal offense that should involve the police. Once a criminal investigation is underway, retain an attorney to pursue the civil side of your claim.
Effects of Sexual Abuse
Counseling and support help children recover from sexual abuse and lead fulfilling lives. Without such intervention, sexual abuse has devastating long-term psychological, emotional, and physical effects, whether the abuse happens once or over an extended period:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Panic attacks
- Eating disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Drug abuse
- Higher likelihood of teen pregnancy
- Chronic health conditions in adulthood
- Increased likelihood of experiencing sexual assault in adulthood
What is the statute of limitations in New York for child sex abuse?
Thanks to the Child Victims Act of 2019, New York state law now allows child sexual abuse victims to file criminal charges until they reach 28. They have until age 55 to file a civil claim.
Resources for New York City Sex Abuse Survivors
Support and advocacy are available if you or your loved one is the victim of sexual abuse:
- The Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center: (800) 621-HOPE (4673)
- The Queens Child Advocacy Center: (718) 575-1342
- The New York Center for Children: (212) 517-3012
- The New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Child Protection Team: (212) 737-7800
- The Frances L. Loeb Child Protection and Development Center: (212) 562-4130
- The New York Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 342-3720
- The New York Office of Victim Services; file a claim online
Civil Remedies For Sexual Abuse In NYC
A criminal lawsuit against a sex offender can lead to a conviction and appropriate punishment, such as jail time and a permanent record. It will not, however, lead to retribution for your child’s harms. Only a civil claim will result in payment for medical bills, physical pain, emotional suffering and mental anguish. In a sexual abuse case, a civil claim could also result in punitive damages for the defendant’s unlawful actions. A monetary award can’t reverse your child’s trauma after a case of sexual abuse, but it can go a long way toward securing his or her future. It can pay for ongoing therapy to help your child recover from this terrible wrongdoing. Contact our firm for a free case evaluation.
How can a New York sexual abuse attorney help me?
A criminal prosecution can provide justice for victims of child sex crimes but falls short of facilitating recovery. Too often, the criminal justice system fails victims, and a civil lawsuit is the only justice victims receive. While compensation cannot reverse the trauma, it can remove barriers to paying for medical expenses, counseling, and recovery from emotional distress.
The law firm at Meirowitz & Wasserberg LLP is dedicated to advocating for those who suffer personal injuries through no fault of their own. Sexual abuse survivors are never at fault for what happened to them, and we derive immense satisfaction from helping survivors improve their lives. Our dedication has helped us win billions of dollars on behalf of our clients.
Our law office is located in Lower Manhattan at 1040 Sixth Avenue, Suite 12B. Call us at (212) 897-1988 or contact us using our easy contact form for a free consultation and no-obligation case evaluation.