When children join an organization such as the Boy Scouts, participate in a sport or simply go to school, the last thing they or their parents expect is that they will become victims of child sexual abuse. This is every family’s worst nightmare. But in order to stop the cycle of abuse, it’s important for victims and/or their parents to come forward and punish those responsible. Not only does this help ensure that other children are not harmed, it can also provide justice and closure to all those involved.
We are all familiar with several recent high profile child sexual abuse scandals. One of the best known is the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. Recently, child molestation cases involving the Boy Scouts of America, now known as Scouts BSA, made headlines. In February of 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy due to dwindling membership and most notably, a slew of child sexual abuse lawsuits brought against it. Reports show that the Boy Scouts had a database of known sexual predators known as the Boy Scout Perversion Files. Even worse, they were fully aware of repeated child abuse on a national scale over decades, yet they did little to stop it.
While you can’t change what happened, you can make those responsible pay for their actions. If you or your child were a victim of child sexual abuse by the Boy Scouts, a member of the clergy or any other adult, call the child sexual abuse attorneys at The Dominguez Firm for a free and confidential consultation right away at 800-818-1818. We are available for you 24/7.
The facts about child sexual abuse
Some of the facts surrounding child sexual abuse might surprise you. For example, the common belief that most abusers are complete strangers could not be further from the truth. In fact, the great majority of child sex abuse victims know their abuser.
- 91% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.
- Approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys report being sexually abused during childhood.
- 73% of child sex abuse victims do not tell anyone about their abuse for at least a year.
Children who have been sexually abused often go on to have psychological and behavioral problems into adulthood. These can include:
- Substance abuse problems
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behavior at an early age
- Thoughts of or attempts at suicide
- Being unable to form long-term relationships
Even worse, many times the abuser will make threats against the child and their families in an effort to stop them from telling anyone about the abuse. The child has not only been abused physically; they’ve been abused mentally as well.
Notable Child Sexual Abuse Scandals
The Boy Scouts of America
At its height in 1973, the Boy Scouts of America had over 4 million members. Today the number is approximately half of that at around 2.2 million scouts. What millions of parents and their sons didn’t know was that for years there was Boy Scouts Perversions file. This internal list was circulated among Boy Scout management and it contained the names of Scoutmasters accused of molesting boys under their care.
Abuse experts calculate that at least 12,254 boys were abused by pedophiles within the Boy Scout organization between 1944 and 2016. Other experts claim the number is probably much higher since fear, shame and intimidation probably kept many boys and their families from coming forward.
Like the Catholic child sex abuse scandal, many of these predators fell through the cracks and continued abusing boys, even after they had been identified. This lack of accountability and abuse of authority is utterly inexcusable.
Clergy Sexual Abuse
The similarities between the Boy Scouts sexual abuse scandal and that of the Catholic Church are startling. Both organizations chose to shield predators instead of protecting abused children. In the case of the Catholic Church, this abuse probably goes back hundreds of years. And while restrictive statute of limitation laws in California once stopped children and many adults from coming forward and demanding justice, new laws have changed all of that.
In California alone, hundreds of sex abuse claims have been filed against Catholic clergy. While some dioceses have released the names of clergy accused of sexual abuse, others have defiantly refused to do so. But this stonewalling is no longer effective. The days of being ignored or shamed for coming forward are gone, even if it involves an institution as old and established as the Catholic Church.
But the Catholic Church is not the only religious organization accused of sexually abusing children. Several religious groups, including the Baptist Church and La Luz del Mundo Evangelical megachurch have also been accused of molesting children over decades.
Whatever the religious organization involved, betraying the trust of children and their parents under the guise of religion is inexcusable and those responsible for such heinous behavior must face consequences for their actions.
School sexual abuse
With over 1,000 schools and 600,000 students, the Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the U.S. Sadly, LAUSD is no stranger to reports of child sex abuse. There is no system-wide record of how many children have been abused, but LAUSD has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to child sex abuse victims over the years. As with the Catholic church and the Boy Scouts, teachers accused of sexual abuse were sometimes kept on the job, allowing them to prey on even more students under their care.
In one case, a third-grade teacher who was accused of sexually abusing a neighbor’s son was allowed to remain on LAUSD’s payroll after his trial resulted in a hung jury. When several teachers and parents came forth to complain about his inappropriate behavior around the children in his class a few years later, nothing was done. Today, that former teacher is serving 25 years in prison for sexually abusing 13 children.
Sexual abuse in children’s sports
Many of us know about the sexual abuse charges against former USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. It is believed that he assaulted at least 150 girls over 15 years. Then there is the notorious child sex abuse scandal involving Larry Sandusky at Penn State University. Both predators are now behind bars, but not before they attacked hundreds of boys and girls.
Yet in spite of these horrific crimes, reports of children being sexually abused while participating in sports continue coming to light. Just this year six members of the U.S. national swim team sued over allegations of sexual abuse by their coaches. The same depressing narrative of the all-powerful governing body protecting the attackers instead of the victims was repeated once again. Not only were these girls– now women sexually abused at the time, their pleas for help were ignored.
A growing awareness of child sexual abuse and molestation
In spite of all of these gloomy statistics and news reports, there is hope. California, along with some other states have changed their laws to better protect the rights of child sexual abuse victims. Awareness of the subject has increased tremendously. Organizations that turned a blind eye and the perpetrators they protected are being put in the spotlight and punished.
Changes to the statute of limitations in California
In October of 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom changed the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims in California, giving them more time to sue their attackers. The old statute of limitations was within three years of the abuse or the age of 26 if an adult, whichever comes later. The new statute of limitations is now 40 years of age or within 5 years of when the victim became aware of the abuse. This gives victims of child sexual abuse a new chance to be heard and find justice for the ordeal they faced.
What should you do if a child has been sexually abused?
The sexual abuse of a child is a criminal act and should immediately be reported either by calling 911 or Child Protective Services. The child needs to be separated from that dangerous environment as quickly as possible. Keep in mind, any investigation and subsequent charges will fall under criminal law. However, a parent or guardian can also bring civil charges against the abuser and the employer or organization they were a part of in a separate lawsuit. The Dominguez Firm has also put together an E-book with more information and resources regarding sexual abuse and assault.
Help for Victims of Sexual Assault
The compassionate child sex abuse lawyers at The Dominguez Firm are ready to listen and help in a confidential phone call or meeting. We are a powerhouse law firm that prides itself on helping child sex abuse victims heal and making sure those at fault suffer the consequences of their intolerable conduct. There is no place for sexual abuse or molestation in our society. Our child sex abuse lawyers will work tirelessly to try and get you the justice you deserve as well as the maximum compensation allowed for what you’ve endured.
The Dominguez Firm has experienced child sex abuse lawyers ready to assist you right now. And we stand by our promise: if there is no recovery, there is no fee! Call now for a free and completely confidential consultation at 800-818-1818.
Helpful Articles From Our Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers
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