Child sexual abuse in Miami and across the US is an epidemic. It is almost impossible to turn on the news or read the internet without hearing of another child that has been victimized sexually by an adult or an adult who is able to finally come out with their story of being sexually abused as a child. Not only do these victims deserve the criminal justice system to lock these abusers up for as long as possible, they deserve compensation and justice from the civil courts to help them heal and start over. For the past 25 years, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group in Miami has worked with victims of child abuse to help them receive the compensation they deserve.
Child sexual abuse in Miami affects children under the age of 18. It is any sexual contact or sexual acts, whether verbal or physical, between an adult and a minor child.
There are many ways a child may be subject to child sexual abuse, such as:
• Vaginal or anal penetration with a finger, penis, or other objects
• Oral sex
• Possession of child pornography
• Showing a child pornographic material
• Public Display of explicit images
• Touching genitals, breasts, or other intimate areas
• Sexual exploitation
• Enabling or forcing a child to perform sexually explicit acts
• Taking nude videos or photos of a child
• Sending sexual emails
• Discussing sexually explicit things which are developmentally inappropriate for the child’s age
Victims of child sexual abuse often suffer with the aftermath for many years to come. The effects can be physical, emotional, and psychological. These effects can take years to overcome with the help of a strong support community and therapy. However, some victims never fully recover from the trauma they suffered at the hands of their sexual abusers.
The effects of child sexual abuse can include, but are not limited to:
• Shame thinking the abuse was somehow their fault
• Night terrors
• Trust and relationship Issues
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Severe depression
• Substance Abuse
• Physical bruising, broken bones, vaginal or anal tears, and even permanent injuries to reproductive organs and/or genitals
For the period beginning in April 2018 and ending in March 2019, 38 out of every 1,022 children (4%) have reported being a victim of child sexual abuse. That means that 4% of all children between the ages of 0 and 17 in Miami have reported that they were victimized sexually by an adult. Each year, that equates to about 2,000 reported cases of child sexual assault in Miami.
According to Kristi House, 1 in 7 children will be solicited for sexual acts on the internet. Even more horrific is the current median age for victims of child sexual abuse is 9. These victims are of all genders, races, religions, socioeconomic classes, national origins, etc. Child sexual abuse does not and has never discriminated against anyone for any reason.
In March 2010, the Florida House Bill 525 was passed. As a result, as of July 1, 2010, Florida no longer has any statute of limitations or time limit of when a victim can file a criminal and/or civil claim against his or her abuser and other defendants as long as the child was under the age of 16 when the abuse occurred. This means that whenever the victim is ready to come forward, even is he or she is 80 years old, the case can be filed, and a trial can begin.
Perpetrators of child sexual abuse are usually a trusted adult. These trusted adults leave little reason for a child to doubt anything and everything he or she says, making it much easier to abuse the child sexually. The sad reality is that only a very small minority of child sexual abuse claims are perpetrated by a stranger. More often than not, the person is close to the child and have groomed the child for several years.
Some common perpetrators of child sexual abuse include:
• Scout leaders
• Religious leaders
• Family members, such as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings
• Family friends
• Daycare providers and employees
• Priests or clergy
• Healthcare professionals, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, etc.
• Society influencers such as athletes, celebrities, business leaders, government officials, etc.
The epidemic of child sexual abuse in Miami is not a problem just because of the abusers. It is becoming an epidemic because those in a position to help victims are not acting on the information, they know to protect children from such atrocities.
These accomplices can be any of the following people or institutions:
• Therapists refusing to report information regarding a client’s need to sexually abuse children or accounts from children being sexually abused
• Property owners who negligently ignore security concerns
• Parents and other adults who are neglectful when supervising their children around adults
• An agency or government entity that ignored and did not respond appropriately to reports of suspected or actual sexual abuse
• Individuals who actually aid the abuser in committing sexual abuse
• Educational institutions and administrators who do not report incidents of child sexual abuse in the school
• Religious institutions who attempt to handle reports of child sexual abuse in-house
Miami and Florida as a whole have some of the strictest penalties against child sexual abuse offenders. If the victim is under 12 and the offender is under 18, the perpetrator may receive a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years. If the victim is under 12 and the perpetrator is over 18, the perpetrator may receive life in prison with a minimum of 25 years or the death penalty, depending on the details of the case. If the victim is over the age of twelve, the perpetrator may receive up to 15 years in prison. However, no matter the age of the victim, if drugs or other means (such as using a gun or threatening the life of another loved one) was used, the perpetrator may face up to 30 years in prison. Finally, if the perpetrator is considered a dangerous sexual predator, a mandatory 25-year prison sentence may be Issued. In addition to all of these potential penalties, the perpetrator must register as a sex offender.
In addition to pressing criminal charges against a child sexual offender, the victim can file a lawsuit in civil court against the perpetrator and any party that helped the assaults continue.
The remedies available through the civil courts include:
• Payment of medical bills
• Payments for therapies and counseling
• Loss of income
• Reimbursement for stolen or damaged property
• Attorney’s fees and court fees
• Pain and suffering
• Emotional distress
• Punitive damages
It takes a village to help a child heal from the trauma of child sexual abuse. It is important to know you are not alone and there are people who want you to find peace. Here are some wonderful organizations designed to help you move on.
- Lauren’s Kids. This organization provides education and guidance to help victims of child sexual abuse
- Kristi House. This organization provides resources to victims of child sexual abuse and their families.
- RAINN. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network helps children who are victims of sexual abuse find the resources needed to help move on and make a better life.
- Darkness to Light. This is another national organization that helps children and their families find the organizations, therapists, and other resources to help the child regain their lives after experiencing sexual abuse.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. This is a network that provides evaluations and necessary therapies to child sexual abuse victims.
- Stop It Now. Stop It Now helps adult survivors of child sexual abuse find the organizations with the resources to help them move on from their abuse experience.
Child sexual abuse in Miami is an epidemic that needs to be stopped. Children have the right to be children and enjoy life as children. Child sexual abuse robs them of that opportunity to be a child. If you or a loved one is a victim of child sexual abuse in Miami, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group can help. Contact us today at (305) 946-1884 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.