Apr 13, 2022
A 50-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested last week for what detectives referred to as engaging in “online sexually explicit communication” with a minor victim who lived in another state, according to a report from KTLA.
Joseph Gatt of Los Angeles was arrested on the morning of Wednesday, April 6, after authorities served a search warrant at his home near 3rd Street and La Jolla Avenue in Beverly Grove, according to a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) press release. Gatt reportedly had an outstanding felony warrant for California Penal Code 288.3(a) – Contact with a Minor for Sexual Offense.
Investigators are searching for other potential child victims who may have been harmed by Gatt.
Detectives from the LAPD’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force began investigating Gatt after receiving a tip that he was engaged in sexually explicit communication with the minor victim.
The LAPD indicated that the case is an ongoing investigation which is being led by the department’s ICAC Task Force.
The ICAC is comprised of over 100 federal and local affiliate agencies that detect and investigate child predators that use the internet as a means to contact children or deal in child sexual abuse material, according to the LAPD’s website.
The LAPD’s press release also noted that, “The public is reminded that any suspected inappropriate contact with a minor or knowledge of child sexual abuse material on the internet, should be immediately reported to their local law enforcement agency or to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 800-843-5678, or missingkids.org. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will forward the information to the appropriate law enforcement agency nationwide.”
Anyone with information related to a possible crime committed by Joseph Gatt or a survivor impacted by a sex crime is urged to contact Detective Denos Amarantos at 562-624-4027.
During non-business hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to 877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org.
You may also visit www.lapdonline.org and click on “Anonymous Web Tips” under the “Get Involved-Crime Stoppers” menu, or download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers as your local program to leave a tip.
Children are considered minors under California law. Hence, a child is never able to give consent, and any sexual act involving a minor is considered abuse. Under the law, childhood sexual abuse can entail:
California law broadly defines child sexual assault as including any sexual act, such as:
Furthermore, the following actions constitute a sex crime under California law:
Under California law, sexual exploitation of a child can also include depicting a minor in any of the aforementioned acts that are considered sexual assault. Any adult who promotes, uses, or coerces a child into participating in (or encouraging others to participate in) the following actions is committing sexual exploitation under California law:
Moreover, the law explicitly forbids any adult from coercing a child’s guardian into allowing such sexual exploitation or assault.
The American Bar Association (ABA) defines sexual grooming as “a preparatory process in which a perpetrator gradually gains a person’s or organization’s trust with the intent to be sexually abusive.” When sexual grooming occurs, the victim is typically a child, teen, or vulnerable adult.
Grooming can entail any of the following with a child or young person:
Groomers frequently take these steps in an effort to gain access to (and time alone with) children.
In extreme cases, predators may use threats and physical force to sexually assault or abuse a child. In most instances, however, subtle approaches designed to build relationships with families are utilized by the groomer.
The predator may assume a caring role – befriending the child or even exploiting their position of trust and authority to groom him/her (and/or the child’s family). Sexual groomers may attempt to build a relationship with the young person’s family or friends – going to great lengths make themselves seem trustworthy or authoritative. Parents are cautioned to always remain vigilant, understanding that anyone (at any time) can be a sexual predator.
As the ABA notes, sexual predators use grooming to intentionally build relationships with the adults around a child or seek out a child who is less supervised by parents or guardians. This increases the likelihood that the offender’s time with the child is welcomed and encouraged by the adults.
Children and young people who are victims of grooming are often sexually abused, exploited, or trafficked. Anyone can commit sexual grooming – regardless of their age, gender, race, occupation, or social status.
Furthermore, grooming can occur over any period of time. Some predators take weeks to groom a victim, while others will wait years. This is an especially important point for parents, as they may be inclined to leave their guards down once becoming familiar with a teacher, coach, or clergy member.
The ABA confirms that the key to understanding sexual grooming is recognizing common behaviors that predators utilize while applying these tactics on victims for abuse.
According to the ABA, “common sexual grooming behaviors are often subtle and may not appear inappropriate to the untrained eye.”
Specific behaviors outlined by the ABA include:
For childhood sex crimes, the California statute of limitations is temporarily paused under Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218). AB 218, which took effect on January 1, 2020, tolls (pauses) the statute of limitations on all childhood sex crimes through the end of 2022.
In other words, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse or assault may currently file civil claims/lawsuits seeking financial compensation 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.
Additionally, California AB 218 includes a treble damages award clause which gives the courts latitude to triple financial settlements or verdicts in cases where a cover-up is 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 malfeasance was able to be proven in court, a $1 million damages award could theoretically be increased to $3 million under the AB 218 treble damages clause.
AB 218’s treble damages clause was included in the legislation in an effort to severely punish bad actors who participated in systemic cover-ups, often over the course of several decades. Such cover-ups in organizations including the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church have impacted countless innocent survivors, but AB 218 offers all victims an opportunity at justice.
For additional information on California AB 218 and how it offers survivors of childhood sexual abuse an unprecedented opportunity at justice, please visit our recent blog post.
California childhood sexual abuse civil lawsuits may be brought in an effort to recover financial compensation for various types of losses. Depending on the circumstances of childhood sex crime, compensatory damages may be pursued and recovered through a civil claim.
Examples of some common damages that may be secured through a California childhood sexual assault or abuse civil claim include:
Although children impacted by sexual abuse are currently eligible to file civil claims regardless of when a crime occurred, the statute of limitations is different for adult survivors of sexual violence.
For adult sexual assault survivors, the California statute of limitations on sex crimes allows you to file a civil claim up to 10 years after an incident. Moreover, the statute of limitations allows for a three-year window in civil claims where sexual assaults lead to the discovery of a psychological injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
DLG is a leading California-based sex crimes firm representing survivors across the United States. DLG offers survivors a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.
Led by Sam Dordulian, DLG’s experienced childhood 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 and confidential consultation regarding your childhood sexual abuse civil claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. Our childhood 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.