Child Molestation and Sexual Assault Cases- How Lawyers Can Help
The Penn State child molestation scandal has resulted in the firing of longtime Penn State coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier. In addition, the alleged assailant, coach Jerry Sandusky, has also been fired and is now being charged with numerous crimes.
Even more important is the fact that children and young adults were victimized and their lives have been forever changed. Anyone guilty of such horrendous crimes should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
While it’s true that the Penn State child sexual assault scandal is big news, many people can’t believe this kind of thing actually happens. Other people are amazed that nobody did anything to correct the problem sooner.
Well, I’m here to tell you that unfortunately, child molestation and child sexual abuse cases happen every day but for the most part, don’t make the NBC evening news. It’s also not unusual for people who know about the abuse to keep silent or look the other way.
These cases are difficult because the issues are sensitive and private. It’s hard to for victims to step forward and acknowledge the abuse. It’s difficult to prosecute these criminals and present evidence concerning crimes that happened many years ago.
Victims of sexual abuse, especially minors, need our help. They need people to step forward and report suspicious conduct. They need our help to stop the wrong and hold these sexual predators accountable for their monstrous conduct.
Here are just a couple of very sad and tragic cases we’ve been involved with over the years. By sharing these real cases, we hope to open your eyes as to what to look for when it comes to sexual abuse of minors.
The neighbors next door were like a grandmother and grandfather to our client’s family. They appeared to be kind, gentle, and always available to help out when needed. They were the type of neighbors you might think you would want living on your street.
One day our clients’ older daughter was looking at the window and watched her little sister interact with the next door neighbor. She saw something inappropriate happen. She couldn’t believe what she had just seen but then, it happened again. It only took a couple of seconds but the older sister knew what she had seen was wrong. Her little sister skipped into the house.
The older sister asked her about what had just happened. To her horror, the little girl told her big sister about the “games” she played with the grandfatherly neighbor next door. Immediately the older daughter had her parents come into the room and because of what they heard during the next 20 minutes, their lives had changed forever. The beautiful little girl had been sexually assaulted by the elderly neighbor for years. The police were called and a sting was setup. To make a long story short, the neighbor admitted that he had been sexually abusing this little girl and I’m glad to say he was arrested.
We were hired to represent the little girl and her family in a civil lawsuit against the elderly next door neighbors. In addition to the husband being sued for sexual assault, battery, and emotional distress, his wife was also sued for knowing about the molestation and not doing anything to stop it. At the same time our case was filed, the Orange County District Attorneys Office filed a criminal case against the defendant husband. We worked closely with the District Attorneys Office to coordinate the prosecution of their criminal case and our civil action for money damages.
In another case involving the sexual assault of a minor, our client agreed to allow her young son to be babysat in a group setting by her pastor’s teenage son. She was told that this young man was trying to earn some extra money babysitting for some of the parents in the church.
One evening our client arrived just a bit early to pick up her son. Our client opened a bedroom door and walked into a room. To her horror, she found several children, including her son, being sexually abused by the older teenage boy.
Without going into too much detail, all I can tell you is that the lives of my client and her wonderful son have been changed forever. During litigation, we learned that the teenage assailant had a troubled past that was known by the pastor and his wife but never disclosed to the parents whose children he was babysitting. Had our client known these details, she would not have ever allowed her son to be left alone in a room with this teenage boy.
I’m happy to say that after a great deal of work and effort, in the first case the defendant pled guilty to the criminal charges and at about the same time, we were able to resolve the civil case in exchange for money damages. The civil settlement allowed the family to eventually move from the neighborhood and begin the healing process.
In the second case involving the teenage boy, we were also able to settle the case for monetary damages shortly before trial. The teenage boy was charged and prosecuted in juvenile court and pled guilty to his wrongful and illegal conduct.
These two cases are tragic but it’s important to understand that these cases happen every day. These young victims need help and we strongly urge lawyers across the country to help prosecute these cases in the criminal and civil courts. Holding child sexual predators responsible for their horrible conduct is a shared responsibility that trial lawyers are in a unique position to help with. If you’re a lawyer, we urge you to join us in our efforts to hold these criminals accountable for their unforgivable actions.