Being forced or coerced into sexual contact is never an acceptable situation, and it's even more repugnant when it involves some of the most vulnerable among us: children and the elderly. As parents and caregivers, we do our best to ensure that we are placing our children and our elders in safe environments. Despite our best intentions, however, these groups remain at a heightened risk of becoming victims of sexual abuse. Children are most at risk of sexual abuse from a non-family member in settings where they remain outside the supervision of their parents. If your child is a victim of sexual abuse, you may pursue justice through the civil justice systems. Having an experienced and caring Chicago sexual abuse attorney on your side can help you navigate this treacherous time.
Some places where child sexual abuse occurs:
- Day-care centers
- Churches and other religious facilities
- Foster care
- Medical facilities
It is extremely difficult to know the exact number of children who are sexually abused, as many cases go unreported. In 2003, 78,188 cases of child sexual abuse were reported through child protective agencies, yet surveys of adult women show that 9-28% of them report that they were sexually abused as children, which would mean that that number is likely much higher.
Although the impact of an episode of sexual abuse may not be outwardly apparent, studies repeatedly confirm that people who are sexually abused as children continue to suffer lifelong problems in different areas of their lives. If you or someone you care about has been a victim, contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a free consultation with a sexual assault attorney in Illinois.
Demonstrating the Extent of Sexual Abuse in Civil Lawsuits
In many cases involving sexual abuse, our sexual assault attorneys use the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts both to help our clients personally cope with some of the emotional issues that they encounter and to help jurors understand the horrors that our client experienced. Frequently, the use of these experts translates into a more valuable case, as these experts can better articulate the impact on the individual than people are usually capable of doing themselves.
Childhood Sexual Abuse FAQ’s
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents people sexually abused and molested as children. We appreciate the life-long impact these situations can have. Below you will find some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) commonly encountered by our clients. Of course, should you have additional questions, we welcome you to contact our law office.
What are my Legal Options if I was Sexually Abused as a Child?
If you were sexually abused as a child, you might be able to bring a lawsuit against the individual who committed the act and / or the entity where the individual was employed or supervised them. When initiating a sexual abuse lawsuit in civil court, victims can pursue a claim for financial compensation for past and future damages they have endured.
Who are Common Defendants in Sex Abuse Lawsuits?
Most childhood sexual abuse lawsuits involve individuals and affiliated entities with the means to pay a court judgment or settlement. Below are some common parties named (defendants) in legal claims stemming from childhood sexual abuse.
- Clergy: Thousands of cases have been filed against members of the Catholic church. The church itself says that as much as 1% of its priest population are abusers which equates to hundreds of thousands of wrongdoers and millions of abused kids. The Catholic Church has paid out an estimated three billion dollars in settlements for the abusive acts of its members.
- Teachers: Teachers are constantly the target of child sexual abuse claims. In most cases, the teachers are named individually and as an employee of the school district where they were employed at the time the alleged abuse occurred.
- Coaches: The world watched in shock as the horrors of Larry Nassar came to light at Michigan State University. However, many other coaches across the country have been found to have abused children. Hundreds of lawsuits have been brought against boys’ and girls’ athletic coaches who violated the sacred trust between themselves and their athletes.
- Doctors: A physician at USC was found to have abused hundreds of young women. This prompted a large outcry, his conviction, and a thorough review of the treatment of minors in the hands of doctors. Doctors exercise such complete control over children that abuse can happen quite easily, and it often does.
- Foster Parents: Foster parents are entrusted with protecting our most vulnerable members of society. Unfortunately, they turn out to be the real danger all too often. In most cases, the individual perpetrators do not have sufficient assets to pursue. Consequently, cases are typically brought against the foster care agencies based upon their failure to screen the parents or supervise the children under their care.
- Youth Groups: Many of the largest youth groups in the country have come under scrutiny for child sexual assault or abuse cases. The Boy Scouts of America has had to deal with a lot of this negative attention. To date, the group had paid tens of millions in settlement to survivors including one case for $15 million and another for $18.5 million. For more information on litigation involving Boy Scouts look here.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse Under Illinois Law?
In 2017, Illinois eliminated the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and assault. This means that if the abuse came after this change in the law, the child has no deadline to bring a lawsuit. However, if the abuse occurred before that change in the law, then the child must bring a case within 20 years of turning 18-years-old. Illinois removed the statute of limitations for child sexual assault and abuse to better protect them and afford them relief in the case of harm.
What is the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Lawsuit Involving Sexual Abuse?
The difference between civil and criminal suits for child sexual abuse lies largely in punishment. In civil cases, defendants face the possibility of mostly monetary penalties. In criminal cases, defendants may lose their liberty through imprisonment and other restrictions in freedom.
Another implicit but important difference in these two types of cases is the complainant. Civil cases are brought by private parties. Criminal cases are brought by the state.
What are Some Examples of Sexual Abuse Court Settlements?
On average, successful child abuse settlements fetch several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of them even exceed the one-million-dollar mark. However, how much any particular case gets depends on its facts. This will also determine how long they last which matters when it comes to compensation as well. Here are a few examples of child sexual abuse settlements to give you a better flavor of how these cases are valued.
$4.45 MILLION ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT: In the spring of 2017, the Chicago Archdiocese reached a $4.45 million settlement with three men. The plaintiffs alleged one priest repeatedly molested them roughly 15 years prior. Two of the boys were abused during an after-school program and one was abused after a church-run basketball program. The plaintiffs stated that the diocese knew about the priest’s tendencies and took no action.
$1 MILLION ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT: Five kids sued a north-suburban Illinois high school after enduring sexual assault and abuse on campus. They alleged the school knew about it and took no action. Two coaches were fired, and another was charged by the local authorities but eventually released. The district settled with all of them; they each received $200,000. It was a settlement agreement, so the school could still deny any wrongdoing.
$6.3 MILLION ILLINOIS AWARD: This sexual abuse lawsuit arose in a church near St. Louis, but on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. The plaintiff, an adult, claimed that a priest sexually abused him decades ago. The misconduct occurred at a school the priest taught at and the man attended. The man received a large award, much of that was comprised of punitive damages and interests. This case illustrates how justice is possible even many years after the fact!
$3 MILLION ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT: This case was brought against a town under the failure to report statutes of Illinois which require officials to report allegations of abuse to authorities. The plaintiffs, several small children, alleged an employee and volunteer of the city sexually assaulted and abused them over several months. The town settled with the plaintiffs in a private agreement totaling $3 million.
$1.4 MILLION ILLINOIS SETTLEMENT: This case wrapped up in 2018 nearly four years after it began. Three men brought a combined suit against a Catholic Church. They said that one priest repeatedly molested them over a few years in the early 1980s. They were each under the age of 11 at the time.
$2.2 MILLION COLORADO SETTLEMENT: This civil case kicked off after a Colorado teacher went to jail for 20 years. He was found to have repeatedly sexually exploited a 14-year-old girl. The school district got in hot water because it didn’t report allegations to the police.
$4 MILLION ILLINOIS AWARD: This case was brought by an adult male against his former foster parent. It was filed in 2017 for actions that allegedly took place around 2004. From what we can tell, the foster parent sexually assaulted him over a few months during that year. The victim reported that has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This plaintiff received a $4 million award-$2 million for compensatory damages and $2 million for punitive damages.
$28 MILLION ILLINOIS AWARD: It only took an Illinois jury a few hours to return one of the largest verdicts in the state’s history for child sexual abuse. The victim was only 12 at the time. The abuser was a family friend and coach of the boy. He molested him serially over a few months. The kid had to run away from his home for it to stop. The jury gave him $28 million-$7 million for compensatory damages and $21 million for punitive damages.
Find a Sexual Abuse Attorney for Elders
Those who are elderly or are physically or mentally unable to protect themselves are also at risk of sexual abuse. These adult victims are primarily at risk of uninvited sexual contact in a long-term care setting such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. These victims are targets due to their limited ability to fight off sexual advances or the fact that they are cognitively unable to report the abuse. Many are further traumatized with fear tactics to ensure their silence.
Signs of sexual abuse in adult victims can include physical, emotional, or behavioral changes. It's important to be able to spot the common characteristics of sexually abused patients in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
- Physical Symptoms: The victim may have bruising and lacerations on or around their genital area, wrists, ankles, and other extremities. Sexually transmitted diseases and infections can also be signs of sexual abuse.
- Emotional Trauma: Sexual abuse victims may become depressed or withdrawn and express fear of being left alone or with health-care workers. They may become fearful or resistant of being dressed or undressed for routine care.
- Behavioral Changes: Victims may show signs of anxiety or anger. Cognitively impaired individuals, such as those with dementia, may begin displaying new behaviors, including avoidance of certain staff members, sleep disturbances, and violent episodes.
If you've noticed these symptoms in a loved one, it's time to seek help and support, and one of the support points you may consider contacting is a sexual assault attorney in Illinois. The sexual assault lawyers at our firm are sensitive to the nature of your case and passionate about delivering justice.
Hire a Top Sexual Assault Lawyer in Chicago and get Help Moving Forward
Each sex abuse attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has experience providing assistance with these difficult situations, and we are mindful of the emotional toll these cases have on victims when they are forced to relive their experiences. All safeguards are used to minimize the emotional toll on the individual through the course of settlement or litigation of the case.
If you or a loved one is the victim of sexual abuse in Chicago or anywhere in Illinois and you've been wondering, "Where can I find sexual abuse lawyers near me?", please contact our law office for a confidential discussion of your situation and your legal rights. A sex abuse lawyer will answer your questions in a safe, no-pressure environment.
Resources for Individuals and Families Coping With Sexual Abuse
- Removing the Statute of Limitations on Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases
- Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
- Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet
- When Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases are Ignored
One of the most horrendous acts that can happen in our society is the sexual abuse of a child. This perversion of power can scar a young child, affecting their emotional growth and every aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, it is difficult to protect these young victims, especially when their abusers are adults that are often those closest to them: family members, educators, caregivers, and even clergy.
Although nothing can detract from the pain this type of abuse can cause, civil lawsuits against the perpetrator can provide compensation for injuries and give a sense of closure for many victims. As Chicago sexual abuse attorneys, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is committed to holding responsible parties fully accountable under Illinois when it comes to paying damages in civil lawsuits deriving from their acts.
If you or a loved one is a victim of sexual abuse, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights and options for a financial recovery. We are deeply committed to holding individuals and organizations accountable for abuse perpetrated against the innocent. Complete our case intake form here for a free review of your legal rights and options for recovery.
Impacts Of Sexual Abuse On A Child, Teen & Adult
The long-reaching impacts of this type of child molestation and sexual abuse can follow victims for the rest of their lives. For children that are molested by a trusted adult, the road to recovery can last a long time. Many abused children and adult survivors have deep-seeded psychological damage, affecting their ability to forge healthy relationships, as well as many other challenges. Some of the common impacts child sexual abuse can have on a victim include:
- Anti-social behavior
- Stunted emotional development
- Loss of self-esteem
- Self-abusive behaviors
- Suicidal tendencies
Each victim’s circumstances are unique; how they cope is dependent on the support system they have around them. Some victims show immediate signs of emotional damage where other children may not display any symptoms of abuse until years down the road.
The Frequency of Child Molestation
It is difficult to know precisely how many children are abused as it is often not reported to authorities. However, the statistics that are verifiable are horrific enough. According to a 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, 9.2% of children that were victimized were sexually abused.
This number is almost 1 in 10 children, which is a conservative number since many children do not report their abuse, especially when the abuser is someone they trust. Another report by the National Institute of Justice estimates that 3 out of 4 adolescents that were sexually assaulted claimed the abuser was someone with whom they had a close relationship.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented individuals sexually abused in the following settings across Illinois:
For many victims of sexual abuse as a child, the road to recovery is difficult. Many victims live in silence and pain for years before they confide to anyone about their trauma. The emotional and psychological damage can affect all areas of their lives, from diminished focus in school to forging healthy relationships. Because of the abuse, these children can grow up to live very different lives than they would have if their childhood had not been taken away through the malicious acts of their abuser.
It is almost impossible to put a price on the costs of child sexual abuse. Survivors of this type of abusive attack have scars that will always be with them and have had a piece of their childhood ripped away. Although therapy and counseling can help many victims learn to move past this abuse, the damage that it caused will always be a part of them for the rest of their lives.
Chicago Sexual Abuse Lawyers Actively Pursuing Claims For Civil Damages
Whatever your circumstance, it is important to know that you are not alone. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented individuals who were victimized as children by religious leaders, school officials, organized group leaders and others in positions of power. Our Chicago sexual abuse attorneys are not just committed to your financial recovery, in many circumstances we have helped connect victims with other survivors and with leading counselors. Talk to us to arrange a confidential consultation with an attorney who appreciates your situation. Contact us today.
Resources for child sexual assault: