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Florida Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer – Tips & Info

Working with the right Florida child sexual abuse lawyer offers victims the best recourse to justice. At Leighton Law, we hold abusers accountable and help victims recover damages after abuse. We also aggressively go after the institutions that create an environment for the abuse either directly or indirectly.

Sexual abuse is a heinous crime, especially when perpetrated against children. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is something we see often. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.  This is a serious problem in America. To the surprise of many, the abusers are often family members, friends of the family, neighbors, and other adults close to the victims.

Imagine being a young child thinking you are around people you trust, only to experience victimization in a way that inflicts lifelong trauma.

What do you do if you suspect your child has been sexually abused? It is one of the worst fears for most parents. If you know a child sexual abuse victim or are the guardian of a sexual abuse victim, find out how to file a claim against the abuser to recover compensation for their crimes. With the right Florida child sexual abuse lawyer, you can pursue your case aggressively and win justice.

Here’s some helpful information on childhood sexual abuse cases and what you need to know.

How Florida Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers Handle Cases

Any instance of abuse is typically enough to send families reeling. Then, the veneer of a friendly neighborhood, school, church, or some other environment shatters, leaving you to pick up the pieces.

Due to the nature of sexual abuse, it is sometimes difficult to fully flesh out the details all at once. In addition, particularly with young children, the trauma can affect memories. There may also be a threat of violence against them and their loved ones, making them reticent to share what happened.

Depending on the circumstances, some child victims feel a great deal of shame (through no fault of their own) and are thus worried about sharing details.

This presents a challenge when pursuing a case or a claim against an abuser. Therefore, it’s vital to expose the full extent of the crimes, whether in settlement negotiations or during a court trial.

The right legal team has resources available to facilitate childcare and the appropriate professionals who can help gather evidence in a safe environment. But, of course, they’ll do this while also aggressively going after the victims and any parties liable in the case.

 The Effects of Childhood Sexual Trauma

Many childhood sexual abuse victims experience years, decades, or a life of trauma related to their abuse. Many block out the memories of abuse, which can then be recalled later in life.

Abuse impacts the way victims interact with others. It can warp their perceptions of proper relationships, how to deal with authority, and their idea of justice.

Often, victims feel a deep sense that their abuser robbed them of their innocence. Unfortunately, it’s true and can damage the way they view the world for the rest of their lives.

Sometimes, child sexual abuse causes irreparable damage to family relationships. Victims feel that, even though parents or other responsible adults had no idea what was happening, adults should have known and interceded on their behalf.

What happens when child sexual abuse tears apart a family or rips through a community? Unfortunately, these are the consequences of this type of heinous crime.

Victims can experience:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Erratic Behaviors
  • Anger Issues
  • Eating Disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Substance Abuse
  • & More

The abuse lingers for years and usually requires psychiatric help and other medical therapies to resolve.

What Constitutes Child Sexual Abuse?

It’s normal for people to wonder whether what happened to their child constitutes abuse. But unfortunately, not everyone is an expert on legal abuse laws, so a Florida child sexual abuse lawyer will come in handy.

If you’re a parent or legal guardian, you likely have a gut feeling about these things. Maybe your child comes to you to tell you about things, or you witness them firsthand. In either case, it’s essential to know when something meets the threshold of sexual abuse.

Here are some examples of sexual abuse that we see regularly:

  • Rape

Any sexual encounter without the consent of the victim constitutes rape. Usually, some threat of violence or physical force is involved, which makes the victim feel that resisting is not an option. In addition, attempts to commit a forcible sex act on a child are also rape. By law a child cannot give consent so sexual contact with a child is sexual abuse or rape.

  • Coercion

As most adults know, young children have moldable minds. As a result, they are subject to external pressure and intimidation. Anytime pressure or force is related to a sexual act, it constitutes coercion and is against the law. Sometimes this is also known as “grooming.”

  • Child Pornography

Sadly, child pornography exists, and criminals seek it out. Child pornography involves any depiction of children in any sort of sexually explicit content.

  • Molestation

This involves any inappropriate sexual touching.

  • Indecent Exposure

The display of genitals or showing pornographic materials to a child is against the law. Indecent exposure can occur digitally or from a distance.

  • Human Trafficking

Although not a new abuse, human trafficking has received a lot more attention in recent years.  Part of the sexual abuse empire created by the late Jeffrey Epstein involved human trafficking of young girls, but most trafficking takes place in a seedy underbelly of society.

Often children are snatched or coerced into participating, or are drugged, and forced to engage in prostitution.  There are many signs to watch for to identify human trafficking.  It is a crime that often occurs “in plain sight.” Traffickers often recruit their victims online or on the street by offering fake employment opportunities. Experts have identified some warning signs that could indicate that someone is a victim of human trafficking, including:

  • Showing signs of physical injuries or abuse, including appearing malnourished
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement
  • Answers to questions seem scripted or rehearsed
  • Lacking official identification documents
  • Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions
  • Checking into hotels/motels with older males, and referring to those males as boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp
  • Tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or lower back
  • Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment – barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows
  • Not allowing people to go into public alone, or speak for themselves

There is an established National Human Trafficking Resource Center with a 24-hour hotline (888-373-7888) where suspected trafficking can be reported

These are just some examples of sexual crimes that affect children. If you are a parent or guardian, talk to a Florida child sexual abuse lawyer about your experience and get the legal help you need.

Finding the Right Florida Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer – Where to Look

Choosing the right attorney to represent you or someone you have legal custody of is an important decision. When the stakes are high like they are in a child sexual abuse case, experience, and track record matter.

You need a legal team that will fight for you and know when to push. Find a team with a proven record of representing child sex abuse victims and winning significant judgments. 

There are lawyers who have spent much of their careers fighting for justice for child sex abuse victims. It is important to seek them out to find the right lawyer for you.

Remember, in many child sex abuse cases, it’s not just the abuser you’re after. The organizations they work for or represent are often liable for damages.

Just take a look at some of the most high-profile child sex abuse cases in recent history. Organizations like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America were liable for abuse that took place on their watch. Either they were knowingly negligent or failed to put proper protections in place to prevent abuse.

When you’re up against organizations, whether it’s a large church or a school district, you need the resources to match their legal expertise and often deep pockets for defense.

Here are some steps you can take to choose the right lawyer.

1.  Take Advantage of Free Consultations

Many leading Florida law firms offer no-obligation, free consultations to discuss the details of your case. It’s an excellent way to feel out a potential working relationship with a firm and what you can expect.  Most top law firms will advance the costs of the case so you do not have to spend anything and they recover those costs only if they win the case.

Don’t work with a lawyer or a firm unless you feel entirely comfortable.

2.  Examine Their Record and Reputation

You should look at their online reviews and get referrals from friends, etc., but nothing beats a proven track record. When you’re dealing with a child sexual abuse case, you need results. So find a firm with a history of representing and winning similar cases.

3.  Do They Understand These Cases and Causes?

It is important to know if the lawyers you select are familiar with the causes of child sexual abuse, where they tend to occur, and how to approach both the case and the victim.  Trauma-centered representation is critical to finding the best Florida child sex abuse lawyer.

4.  Ask About Resources

A top firm will have criminologists, therapists, doctors, sociologists, and other resources to draw on in your case. Talk to your lawyer about how they can help and gather critical evidence.

5.  Set Expectations

Ask as many questions as you can to understand what to expect. Inquire about timelines, expectations for you and your child, and anything else you can think of regarding your case. A good legal team will patiently answer and work through any concerns.

6.  Act Quickly

All cases have a statute of limitations (deadline for bringing a lawsuit).  In Florida it is generally four years from the date of the incident, but in cases of child sex abuse it is more complicated. There are some circumstances that extend the statute for children.  Speak as soon as possible with a qualified Florida child sex abuse attorney to determine the statute of limitations for your case.

Winning Compensation After Sexual Abuse

It’s usually terribly difficult to pick up the pieces after any instance of child sexual abuse.

That process takes years or a lifetime.

How do you start with making things right?

There’s a lot that should happen after sexual abuse occurs. First, victims, especially child victims, need reassurance that they’ve done nothing wrong. They need to feel free from harm and know that their abusers will face justice.

Of course, any abuse victims will need substantial medical and psychological support for some time. In addition, depending on the incident, they may need serious medical attention to treat injuries.

Likewise, child sexual abuse can affect a victim’s ability to pursue an education and hold gainful employment.

Finally, the abusers and any who aided and abetted them must be held accountable and punished to the full extent of the law.

Working with an experienced Florida child sexual abuse lawyer is the best way to pursue damages and win compensation, whether in negotiations or court.

Victims of child sexual abuse, particularly cases in which large organizations like a school or church are involved, are entitled to significant payments for:

  • Medical Treatment
  • Therapy
  • Lost Income
  • Education
  • Mental, Emotional and Physical Pain & Suffering
  • Other Costs

Act now and find an experienced lawyer who will support you in your case and hold your abusers accountable.

Article by:

John Leighton

A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite

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