Each year, over 900,000 reported cases of child abuse occur in the United States alone. . According to a study conducted in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF), approximately 10% of these cases involve the sexual abuse of children. Even infants have been reported to be victims of sexual abuse. In fact, according to the ACF, children under the age of 1 suffer the greatest percentage of abuse overall.
If your child has been a victim of abuse, you are well-advised to immediately report the incident to law enforcement officials and to contact an attorney for assistance in seeking legal justice against the perpetrators of your child’s sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse attorney Jeffrey Killino is dedicated to helping you with your case. Contact attorney Killino at 877-875-2827 to learn about your legal options.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Children who suffer from current or past sexual abuse generally exhibit certain signs of this particular form of abuse, including any of the following:
- Extreme interest in or avoidance of sexual issues
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in emotional well-being, including depression or withdrawal from others
- Unusual comments about their bodies
- Changes in behavior around others, in particular, showing an unusual amount of aggression
- Problems with sitting or standing
- Harm to genital areas, including swelling, bruising, or bleeding
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy
- Suicidal behavior
If a young child or adolescent exhibits any of the above physical or emotional changes, the possibility that the child is undergoing sexual abuse should be investigated.
Legal Liability for Sexual Abuse of a Child
Most sexual abuse is committed by someone the child victim knows, according to statistics, and every one of those individuals may be subject to criminal liability for the abuse if the state’s case is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. These same individuals may also be found liable for civil damages, under some circumstances, and thereby subject to payment of damages for the injuries suffered by their child victims as a result of the sexual abuse.
Vicarious and Direct Liability for Children’s Sexual Abuse
An employer of a teacher, camp counselor, daycare employee, youth organization personnel, or other adult in whose care a child has been entrusted may be held directly liable—and in some cases, vicariously liable—for the conduct of an employee that results in injury to a child. Such liability may extend not only to the acts of paid employees but to volunteers, as well.
- Direct Liability for Negligence
The employer of an adult who commits an act of child abuse against a child entrusted to the adult’s care as an aspect of the adult’s employment duties may be held directly liable for the injuries suffered by a child as a result of the employee’s sexual abuse of the child if the abuse has occurred while the child was under the employee’s supervision or care and if the employer is determined to have been negligent in the screening, hiring, training, supervision, or retention of the employee who committed the sexual abuse.
- Direct Liability under the Law of Premises Liability
The owner of premises on whose premises the sexual abuse of a child has occurred may, in some circumstances, be held directly liable in a civil action for the injuries suffered by the child as a result of the sexual abuse. The law of premises liability varies somewhat from state to state, though most states’ laws impose a duty upon the owner of premises to exercise reasonable care to protect children who have been invited on or are known to be present on the owner’s premises safe from harm, including the harm of sexual assault.
In some states, child trespassers may not be allowed to recover damages for sexual abuse injuries that occurred on an owner’s premises if the owner was unaware of the child’s presence and had no reason to know or suspect that a child might be present on the premises.
- Vicarious Liability
The employers of employees who commit torts against children in the course of their employment may be found vicariously liable in a civil action for the injuries suffered by a child as a result of an employee’s tortious conduct. Vicarious liability is generally allowed only for negligent acts of an employee rather than those that constitute intentional conduct such as a sexual assault. When recovery is denied to a plaintiff with respect to a claim brought under a vicarious liability theory, the determination of lack of liability is often based on a finding that the intentional act—such as a sexual assault—was outside the scope of the employee’s employment.
If you have reason to believe that your child is suffering sexual abuse when he or she is not in your care, immediate action should be taken to prevent any further mistreatment. You may also be entitled to compensation for your child’s sexual abuse in a civil action against the perpetrator of the abuse. Contact child sexual abuse attorney Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2827 for compassionate and experienced assistance with your case.