Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases

For survivors of child sexual abuse and their families, the path to healing often begins with the recognition that the trauma they have endured does not have to define their future. The journey to healing from sexual abuse is marked by resilience, courage, and the reclaiming of personal power.

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we understand the profound effects of childhood sexual abuse can have, not just on the child but on their entire family. Our mission is to support and empower survivors, helping them understand that while this experience is a part of their story, it does not encompass their whole identity.

Our legal team has been instrumental in obtaining significant compensation for sexual abuse survivors, amounting to millions of dollars. This financial support is crucial for the long-term healing and rehabilitation of those affected by such traumatic experiences. But our efforts are not confined to legal battles alone. We are equally dedicated to advocating for stronger laws to safeguard children from sexual predators.

Seeking legal help following such trauma can be overwhelming, but it is a critical step in holding abusers and negligent institutions accountable. Our law firm guides survivors and their families through this process with sensitivity, expertise, and unwavering support. By providing compassionate legal counsel and robust advocacy, we make pursuing justice more accessible and less daunting. We work diligently to ensure survivors have the resources and legal backing to challenge those who have wronged them, helping create a safer future for themselves and others. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., empowering survivors to seek justice is not just our profession; it is our passion and commitment.

What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is a horrific act that can leave lasting scars on its young victims. It involves engaging a child in sexual activities for which the child is developmentally unprepared and cannot give informed consent.

At its core, child sexual abuse typically involves an adult or older adolescent exerting their authority or influence over a child to engage in sexual acts. This can include non-contact activities, such as exposure to pornography, voyeurism, or forcing the child to watch sexual acts, as well as contact offenses like molestation, rape, or exploitation. This is also referred to as the sexual abuse grooming process. This abuse affects the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

One of the critical aspects of child sexual abuse is the absence of consent. Consent involves a freely given, informed agreement to engage in sexual activities. Children, by virtue of their age and developmental stage, are incapable of giving such consent. Their understanding of sexual matters is inherently limited, making them particularly vulnerable to manipulation and coercion. Abusers often exploit this vulnerability, sometimes grooming the child over time to gain their trust before initiating sexual contact or activities. Our law firm fought hard to ensure that it was not legal for minors to consent to sex with adults.

The insidious nature of child sexual abuse lies in its ability to remain hidden. Perpetrators often manipulate their victims into silence, using threats or promises or exploiting the child’s limited understanding of what is happening. The secrecy surrounding these acts makes detecting and responding to them challenging.

Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

Recognizing the signs of child sexual abuse is critical in providing timely help and support to affected children. These signs can be varied and sometimes subtle. Here's a simple bullet list of some common indicators:

Physical Signs

  • Unexplained bruises or injuries, particularly around the genital or anal areas
  • Pain, discomfort, or itching in genital areas
  • Symptoms of sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy, especially in pre-adolescent children
  • Difficulty walking or sitting

Behavioral Signs

  • Sudden changes in behavior, such as aggression, withdrawal, or regression to earlier behaviors (like bedwetting)
  • Fear or reluctance to be alone with a specific person
  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behavior for the child's age
  • Sudden avoidance of certain places or situations

Emotional Signs

  • Displaying signs of depression or anxiety
  • Unexplained fear, nervousness, or jumpiness
  • Sudden mood swings or unexplained anger
  • Withdrawal from friends or usual activities

Communication Signs

  • Using words or phrases that are inappropriate for their age when discussing sex or body parts
  • Expressing fear or unease when discussing a certain individual or place
  • Sudden reluctance to talk about a secret they have with an adult or older child

Academic or Social Signs

  • Sudden decline in academic performance
  • Loss of interest in school, sports, or other activities
  • Difficulty in concentrating or signs of distractibility

Please know that the presence of one or more of these signs doesn't confirm that a child is being sexually abused, but they do warrant attention and may necessitate further investigation.

Our Firm’s Role in Supporting Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., our commitment to protecting children from sexual abuse extends beyond the courtroom, distinguishing us as a leading law firm in this field. We aim to secure compensation for survivors of sexual abuse while also effecting meaningful legislative changes for enhanced protection of children.

One of our notable achievements includes collaborating with lawmakers to enact Audrie's Law, aimed at providing greater protection for incapacitated victims of sexual assault. Moreover, our persistent advocacy efforts have contributed to crucial legislative changes, such as eliminating the statute of limitations for prosecuting childhood sexual abuse in California. This change ensures that perpetrators cannot evade justice due to time constraints, aligning the legal treatment of childhood sexual abuse with the gravity of crimes like murder.

On the civil front, we have actively worked towards extending the age limit for childhood sexual abuse victims to file lawsuits. Now, victims have until the age of 40 to take legal action against their abusers and the institutions that may have facilitated these heinous acts. Additionally, a significant legislative milestone has been achieved with the opening of a three-year window starting January 1, 2020, allowing survivors to revive claims previously barred by time limits.

Over the years, our dedicated California sexual abuse legal team has tirelessly advocated for children harmed in various environments that were supposed to be safe havens, including:

  • Sports organizations like swimming, soccer, and wrestling teams.
  • Daycare centers and preschools.
  • Elementary and high schools.
  • Churches and religious institutions.
  • Boy Scouts and similar youth organizations.
  • Foster care systems.
  • Group homes.

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we are committed to standing with you and your child, providing the support, guidance, and legal expertise needed to navigate this challenging journey. Our goal is to ensure that every child who has suffered from sexual abuse receives the justice and resources they need to heal and thrive.

How Common is Child Sexual Abuse?

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 1 billion minors between the ages of 2 and 17 years have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year. In the United States alone, data from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center indicates that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. Sadly, nearly 60% of child sexual abuse cases go unreported and unrecognized.

Increased Vulnerability in Certain Groups
  • Children with Disabilities: Studies show that children with disabilities are 2.9 times more likely to be sexually abused than their non-disabled peers. Their increased vulnerability can be attributed to factors like communication barriers, physical dependency on caregivers, and societal attitudes towards disability.
  • Children in Foster Care: Children in the foster care system are at a heightened risk of sexual abuse. This risk is compounded by factors such as instability in living situations, emotional vulnerability, and a history of prior abuse.
  • LGBTQ+ Youth: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ+) youth are at an increased risk of sexual abuse compared to their heterosexual peers. Factors contributing to this increased risk include stigma, discrimination, and sometimes, family rejection.
  • Institutional Settings: Abuse can also occur in settings that should be safe for children, such as schools, churches, sports teams, and youth organizations. Perpetrators in these settings can exploit their authority and trust to abuse children.
Challenges Faced by Child Sexual Abuse Survivors

Child survivors of sexual abuse face numerous challenges that can significantly impact their ability to identify and report the abuse they have endured. These challenges are often compounded by their age, developmental stage, and the nature of the abuse itself. Understanding these challenges is crucial for families and adults working with or caring for children.

Difficulty in Identifying Abuse

Many children lack the necessary knowledge to understand what constitutes abuse. They may not recognize inappropriate behavior, especially if the abuser is a trusted adult who they believe wouldn't harm them.

In some cases, if the abuse occurs over an extended period, children might accept this behavior as normal, not realizing it is wrong and harmful. Some children may feel confused about the abuse, especially if it involves mixed signals of affection and care intermingled with abusive behavior. This can lead to ambivalence about reporting the abuse.

Challenges in Reporting Abuse

Children often fear they won't be believed if they report the abuse, especially if the abuser is a respected or loved member of the family or community. They may also struggle with feelings of shame and guilt and blame themselves for the abuse.

Sadly, fear of retaliation or punishment from the abuser can prevent children from speaking out. They may be threatened by the abuser or fear that disclosure will lead to harm to themselves or their loved ones.

Communication and Comprehension Challenges

Younger children often do not have the language skills to articulate their experiences accurately. They may lack the vocabulary to describe what happened to them in a way that adults can understand. They may also not understand the concept of consent or recognize the abusive nature of an adult’s behavior.

The emotional trauma of abuse can leave children unable to articulate their experiences. They may be too scared, traumatized, or confused to express what happened to them effectively.

In situations where the abuser is a caregiver or a significant figure in the child's life, dependency can complicate the decision to report. The child may fear losing this relationship, which might provide love, care, and security alongside the abuse.

Steps to Take if Child Sexual Abuse is Suspected

If you suspect a child is a victim of sexual abuse, you must take immediate action. The steps you take can protect a child from future harm and prevent other children from becoming hurt in these institutions. Here are the steps to take:

  • Stay Calm and Supportive: It might be difficult but try your best to remain calm. Your reaction can significantly impact the child’s ability to cope with the trauma. Ensure the child that they are safe with you and that it was right to tell you about the abuse.
  • Listen, Don't Interrogate: Encourage the child to express what happened in their own words, but avoid pressuring them for details. It’s vital to listen without displaying shock or disbelief, as this can further traumatize the child.
  • Ensure Immediate Safety: Assess the immediate safety of the child. If the abuser has access to the child, take steps to prevent any further contact. This might involve finding a safe place for the child to stay temporarily.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Prompt medical attention is crucial, even if there are no visible physical injuries. Medical professionals can provide necessary care, treat injuries, and gather forensic evidence. They can also screen for sexually transmitted infections and offer emergency contraception if applicable.
  • Report the Abuse: Report your suspicions to the local child protective services or law enforcement. In many jurisdictions, adults are mandated reporters and legally required to report any suspected child abuse. The National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) is available for guidance and support.
  • >Seek Legal Advice: Contact a sexual abuse lawyer at our law firm to help you through the next steps. We can guide you through the legal process and help protect the child’s rights, while holding abusive individuals and negligent institutions accountable. Even if you are unsure you want to pursue legal action, speak to an attorney to discuss your child’s legal options.
  • Access Therapeutic Support: Arrange for the child to receive counseling from a therapist specializing in child abuse. Psychological support is vital for helping the child process their experiences and begin the healing process.
Filing a Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

The first step involves consulting with an attorney at our law firm who can guide you through the steps that will come next. We will gather and preserve evidence to build your case. This can include medical records, eyewitness accounts, therapist's notes, and any other documentation that supports the case.

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we have a team of dedicated attorneys with extensive experience in handling child sexual abuse cases. We guide survivors and their families through each step of the legal process with compassion and professionalism. We understand the complexities involved in these cases and work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive the justice and compensation they deserve.

How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit and Seek Justice?

In California, significant legal reforms have extended the time frame within which survivors of childhood sexual abuse can seek justice and hold abusers and institutions accountable.

Under California law, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have until the age of 40, or within 5 years of the discovery of the abuse, to file a civil lawsuit. This is a considerable extension from previous statutes of limitations and provides survivors with more time to come to terms with their abuse and decide on legal action.

There are also look-back windows that may allow you to seek legal justice even if you’ve missed a statute of limitations. The laws are constantly changing, and our law firm keeps a close eye on them all.

If you aren’t sure you have a case or if you’re worried that you might have already missed the statute of limitations, we can help. We will meet with you and examine your case closely to help you explore all your legal options.

Take the First Step Towards Justice and Healing

If you or a loved one is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, now is the time to take action. The path to healing and justice begins with a single, courageous step, and we at Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P. are here to walk alongside you. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing the support, guidance, and legal expertise you need to hold abusers and negligent institutions accountable.

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we are committed to advocating for the rights of child sexual abuse survivors. Our legal team works tirelessly to hold perpetrators and negligent institutions accountable, seeking justice and support for those who have endured this profound violation.

Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation. Together, we can explore your legal options, ensure your voice is heard, and start the journey towards closure and empowerment. Call us now – your story matters and your healing is our priority.

Client Reviews
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In my experience and in my abusive past, the power was taken away from me. I received my power back going through this process. I received my voice back. Allison B.
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There's a lot of people who are focused on monetary gain and I didn't feel that with attorney Bob Allard. I felt like their priority, in addition to vindicating me, was to take care of me and to get justice for what was right. Stevie G.
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The compassion Bob Allard felt for our needs and concerns was immeasurable. He knew and understood our apprehensions and fears, and dealt with them in a professional and caring manner. Laura H.
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