Apr 21, 2022
Child sexual abuse is a nationwide issue affecting millions. Many states have taken action to offer survivors an opportunity at justice by enacting revival windows which extend the statute of limitations on filing civil claims. Moreover, a federal bill to remove the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse claims was proposed in December.
Despite these efforts, a recent op-ed published in The Hill highlighted the fact that the federal government may not be devoting nearly enough resources to help prevent child sexual abuse.
In the sections below, we will review some important child sexual abuse statistics for 2022, look at how much money is spent on prevention, and discuss how California AB 218 offers survivors an unprecedented opportunity at justice.
The National Centers for Victims of Crime (NSVC) offers the following statistics on child sexual abuse:
Additionally, Dordulian Law Group’s non-profit partner organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), offers the following child sexual abuse statistics:
The effects of child sexual abuse can be long-lasting and affect the victim’s mental health, according to RAINN. In fact, survivors of childhood sexual abuse are more likely than non-survivors to experience the following mental health challenges:
Elizabeth L. Letourneau, Ph.D., a professor in the department of mental health and director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, penned an op-ed for The Hill offering some troubling figures demonstrating how much money is spent (or underspent) on preventing child sexual abuse.
According to Letourneau:
In a paper published in the journal Sexual Abuse on March 23 – entitled No Check We Won’t Write: A Report on the High Cost of Sex Offender Incarceration – Letourneau and her colleagues found that the U.S. spends an estimated $5.4 billion to incarcerate about 144,453 people for sex crimes against children each year. Furthermore, the government stands to spend nearly $49 billion to keep these sexual predators incarcerated until their projected release dates.
That $49 billion figure reportedly includes:
According to Letourneau, most people incarcerated for sex crimes against children remain imprisoned for about eight years. Accordingly, this means that during the same length of time as their $50 billion incarceration the federal government will spend only $16 million on child sexual prevention research.
In other words, for every $1 the U.S. government spends in prevention research, almost $4,200 is spent in punishment.
“Child sexual abuse is indisputably a criminal justice problem as well as a public health problem. We need both reactive and preventive solutions to get out in front of this crisis,” Letourneau wrote in The Hill.
That said, Letourneau points to some small measures of progress in the effort to prevent child sexual abuse. For example:
The Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 funding – which was allocated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – supports five U.S. research teams evaluating child sexual abuse prevention strategies. Said teams are engaged in various types of programs:
However, as Letourneau notes, even with the $2 million in federal funding for child sexual abuse prevention, much more needs to be done in order to effect change.
One such step occurred last April, when Congressman Frank Mrvan of Indiana led a letter to the House Appropriations Committee signed by 31 members of Congress in support of increasing child sexual abuse prevention research funding to the goal amount of $10 million.
According to Letourneau, “Reaching $10 million in annual prevention funding would allow for a critical mass of research to flourish across the U.S., helping ensure that we develop an array of effective prevention strategies that work across our diverse country.”
“We all want American children to grow up free from abuse. Increasing the federal budget for child sexual abuse prevention research to $10 million annually puts us closer to realizing this goal,” she added.
Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218), which took effect on January 1, 2020, is legislation aimed at offering survivors of childhood sexual abuse an opportunity to pursue financial compensation for past crimes. The California statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse crimes is temporarily paused under AB 218, allowing all survivors of childhood sexual abuse or assault to file civil claims/lawsuits seeking justice until December 31, 2022.
However, as of January 1, 2023, the standard statute of limitations will resume, and survivors who did not file claims will likely be left without any legal recourse.
The specific damages that may be recovered in a childhood sexual abuse case will depend on the unique circumstances of a survivor’s claim.
Some common damages that may be obtained via a child sex abuse civil lawsuit include:
Additionally, California AB 218 features a treble damages clause allowing the courts latitude to triple financial damages awards in cases where cover-ups are proven.
For example, if you are a sexual abuse survivor who was victimized through a systemic cover-up (at either an individual or institutional level), and that wrongdoing was proved in court, a $10 million damages award could theoretically be increased to $130 million under the AB 218 treble damages clause.
The treble damages clause included in AB 218 is an effort to severely punish bad actors who participated in systemic cover-ups. Cover-ups often took place over the course of several decades in organizations including the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church, and have consequently impacted countless innocent survivors. Nevertheless, AB 218 offers all victims an opportunity at justice.
Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is a leading California-based firm with decades of experience successfully handling childhood sexual abuse claims. We help survivors throughout California and across the United States and offer a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.
Led by former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian, DLG’s experienced child sexual abuse lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards.
Some of our recent sex crime civil lawsuit victories include:
For a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation regarding your childhood sexual abuse civil claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. Our child sex crime attorneys have helped victims recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.