The sexual abuse of a child is a first-degree felony in Texas, punishable by up to 99 years in prison. When an abuser victimizes a child, he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, while putting an abuser away will prevent him from harming another child, what will become of the child or children he has already abused? Childhood sexual abuse often has a profound effect on a victim’s ability to function as an adult, causing anxiety, depression, and the inability to trust others. Victims need support and professional help, often for the rest of their lives. If you know a victim of child sexual abuse, call our experienced Dallas-Fort Worth child abuse attorney immediately, whether the abuser has been convicted of the crime or not.
Criminal Cases Against Child Abusers Are Difficult to Win
When a child is sexually abused, the abuser should be arrested, convicted, and sent to prison. However, child abuse can be difficult to prove and these cases are not easy to win. Some of the challenges faced by prosecutors include the following:
- The child victim is often intimidated into remaining silent, and as time passes, evidence disappears.
- The case may rest on one child’s word against the word of a seemingly credible adult abuser.
- The accused may be a respected member of the community who is personable, charming, and may appear to genuinely care for children.
- Many victims repress the painful memory of the abuse, only to recall it much later when psychological or sexual problems begin to surface in adulthood.
- A criminal conviction requires “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” a high standard that may be especially difficult to meet for a crime that occurred behind closed doors.
Even if the abuser is convicted and sentenced, the victim is left with emotional scars that are difficult to heal. The victim may be safe from that particular abuser, but he will likely suffer for the rest of his life.
Helping Victims of Child Sexual Abuse to Heal
Whether or not the abuser is convicted of a crime, a victim of abuse may be able to recover financial compensation from the abuser or those who protected him through a civil lawsuit. This money could allow the victim to get the therapeutic services he needs to live a full life after a childhood of sexual abuse. Along with the financial recovery, a victim could also benefit from the following:
- A more meaningful form of justice than just imprisonment of the abuser.
- Recourse for a victim who can’t meet the difficult, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” standard of proof for a criminal conviction but who has enough evidence to meet the civil standard, “a preponderance of the evidence.”
- The opportunity to bring others responsible for the abuse to justice. This may include administrators of the school, church, day care center, or athletic or recreational program that employed the abuser.
At Samples Ames PLLC, our attorneys are experienced in representing children who have been sexually abused. We handle these cases with the care and sensitivity they deserve, but are also tenacious in our pursuit of those responsible for harming the child.
Damages That May Be Awarded
A civil case against a child abuser is like any other personal injury claim, and the compensatory damages that could be awarded are the same. They include the following:
- The cost of any past, present, or future medical treatment and psychotherapy related to the abuse.
- Non-economic damages, including mental anguish, pain, and physical and psychological suffering.
- Compensation for the loss of an ability to form lasting relationships or to enjoy your life.
You may also be able to recover punitive damages. These are meant to punish the abuser or the company, school, or other institution that negligently allowed the abuse to occur, serving as a deterrent to this heinous criminal behavior in the future.
Trust Samples Ames PLLC With Your Civil Case
A victim of sexual abuse in Texas has 15 years from the date of the abuse to file criminal or civil charges. However, when the victim is a child, the 15 years do not begin until the child turns 18. In cases of repressed memory, the statute of limitations is more complicated. Whether you are an adult who wants to pursue a civil case against an abuser from your childhood, or the parent of a child victim, our legal team will act in your best interests to pursue the compensation the victim deserves. Call us today for a free, no-obligation, confidential consultation. We are committed to seeing that justice is served when child victims are involved.