Sex Abuse and the Child Victim’s Act
Survivors of child sexual abuse often suffer irreparable psychological trauma that haunts victims throughout their lives. Sexual abuse in childhood can induce a cascade of psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, borderline personality, and dissocialize identity disorders. The National Crime Victimization Survey is an annual study conducted by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. They report that every nine minutes, child protective services substantiates evidence for a claim of sexual abuse. 93% of the perpetrators are known to the victim, usually as acquaintances or a family member. Sexual abuse is a pervasive and under-reported problem due to victims’ feelings of anger, shame, and despair.
Protecting Child Victims and Witnesses in Court
Federal law, Title 18 U.S.C. Section 3509 provides protections for persons under the age of 18 who are alleged victims of a crime. It includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, or those that have witnessed a crime committed against another. Under Section 3509, the child’s identity and documents must be kept secure and
Other protections include:
- Alternatives to in-court testimony are closed-circuit television or the use of a videotaped deposition. They may be admitted into evidence to protect the well-being of the child that may suffer harm by being in the presence of the abuser.
- A child is presumed to be competent to testify unless there are compelling reasons for competency testing.
- The courtroom may be closed, excluding those not directly involved in the case, if it is determined that the child would suffer substantial psychological harm by testimony in open court.
- A Guardian Ad Litem may be appointed to protect the welfare of the child.
- An adult attendant may be present during a legal proceeding to provide emotional support to the child.
- The court shall expedite proceedings, as delays may cause undue psychological harm to the child.
- Testimonial aids and devices may assist a child in their testimony.
Legal Recourse for Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
Landmark legislation was enacted in New York when Governor Cuomo signed into law the Child Victim’s Act in February of 2019. This law’s passage was a pathway for justice for adults who suffered childhood sexual abuse. Adults in Florida who suffered childhood sexual abuse are entitled to pursue a legal claim. The lawsuit can be filed for the misconduct of their abuser or a negligence claim against an institution that allowed sexual abuse to occur.
Damages can include costs for therapy, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages to punish the abuser and institution, and more. It holds perpetrators and institutions criminally and civilly accountable for their actions regardless of how much time has passed. By expanding the rights of victims in Florida, the state conveyed their support and intolerance of sexual perpetrators.
Under the Child Victim’s Act, survivors may seek a felony charge for the perpetrator of this heinous crime until their 28th birthday. They may pursue a civil action until they reach the age of 55. The law came into effect on August 14, 2019, with a one-year lookback period in which lawsuits could be filed. However, due to the pandemic, the lookback period has been extended to August 14, 2021.
How Does the Child Victim’s Act Impact other States?
The Child Victim’s Act is sweeping our nation, with many states signing into law or having pending legislation following the lead of New York State. For their failure to keep the most vulnerable populations safe, perpetrators and organizations are prosecuted for their victims’ pain and suffering. Childhood sexual abuse permeates a multitude of religious and social organizations. Some of these include schools, churches, foster care agencies, sports organizations, healthcare providers and residential care facilities, camps, and boy scout organizations. Many of these organizations are currently involved in significant litigation in states across the nation due to the Child Victim’s Act.
The Michael Brady Lynch Firm is a Premier, National Complex Litigation Trial Firm
It is difficult to quantify the amount of pain and suffering endured by child victims and adult survivors of sexual abuse. Persons that have suffered sexual abuse as a child at the hands of someone in a position of authority may be entitled to monetary compensation for physical, emotional, and financial losses. As a nationally recognized law firm, Michael Brady Lynch successfully represents survivors of child sexual abuse and holds perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We are relentless in our fight to secure the compensation and closure that our clients deserve. Our law firm represents clients throughout the nation with the utmost respect and confidentiality in dealing with this sensitive topic.
Contact The Michael Brady Lynch Firm to speak with a compassionate advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Call for a FREE CONSULTATION at our Winter Park, Florida office at 888-585-5970.