Justice for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
Until recently, most states have severely limited the time allowed for survivors of child sexual abuse to file criminal charges or seek justice in civil courts. This is changing as increasing coverage of news regarding the Catholic clergy abuse scandals and other institutional coverups have prompted legislators in multiple states to act.
The Child Victims Act was passed into law in the State of New York in February 2019 and enacted August 14, 2019. It extended the time child sexual abuse survivors have to file criminal charges to 28 years of age and to seek compensation through civil lawsuit to 55 years of age. A similar bill in New Jersey passed in May 2019 and will go into effect December 1, 2019.
Pennsylvania along with other states are considering or have already passed similar legislation to extend or remove the statutes of limitations on child sex abuse crimes, giving survivors the ability to seek justice.
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If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse, you have the right to be heard and to receive justice. We are here to help sexual abuse survivors of any age. Contacting us is free and confidential.
Child Sexual Abuse in Churches and Other Institutions
Most attention regarding child sexual abuse has been paid to emerging scandals involving the Catholic church. Multiple dioceses in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey have released lists of accused abusers and other national organizations are under investigation as well.
While the child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church may be receiving the most news coverage, it occurs in many other places including:
- Churches & other religious institutions
- Private schools
- Sports teams
- Community groups
The Boy Scouts has recently been criticized for years of coverups they may have participated in and more victims are considering legal action against Boy Scouts of America.
Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse survivors may face a lifetime of challenges. These may range from feelings of guilt, depression and anxiety to life-threatening problems such as substance abuse and suicide.
Survivors may also be reluctant to come forward when they have been abused by a trusted adult. Others may be unaware of how much trauma has been experienced and be unable to seek help for a long period of time.
In addition, child sexual abuse is not just limited to sexual assault but may include:
- Verbal sexual harassment
- Lewd comments or gestures
- Exposure to pornographic images or videos
- Provision of alcohol or drugs while encouraging sexual behavior
- Unwanted touching with or without clothes
- Sexual assault
- Statutory rape
- Threats to hide abuse
Compensation for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
Whether they were abused by clergy, teachers, coaches or other adults, child sexual abuse survivors deserve justice.
The Catholic Church and other institutions have announced plans to establish compensation funds that they administer. Survivors should know that taking compensation or receiving services arranged by one of these funds may prevent them from benefitting from future recovery efforts or changes in the law.
Each survivor of child sexual abuse has a right to seek compensation for medical and counseling expenses, lost wages, and for the pain and suffering they have experienced and should have their case evaluated by an experienced attorney.