Maryland Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers
Abuse of a minor is a serious issue, especially when that abuse is of a sexual nature. Not only can cases of child sexual abuse be terrifying and traumatizing for the child, but it can also be devastating for the parents or guardians of the child to learn that their child has been abused.
Maryland has many laws in place designed to protect children who have been sexually abused. These laws encompass a range of acts and behaviors, from physical contact to exploitation and child pornography.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of child sexual abuse, our Maryland child sexual abuse lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling Law can help. We understand how sensitive child sexual abuse cases are and are dedicated to offering the compassion, support, and legal counsel you need to help you hold the liable party accountable and recover the settlement you deserve for your suffering.
Types of Child Sexual Abuse Cases We Can Handle
Our child sexual abuse lawyers handle various kinds of child sexual abuse cases in Maryland, some of which include the following:
Juvenile Facility Abuse
The maltreatment of juveniles in corrections facilities is a common occurrence. Every day there are growing reports of sexual victimization, heavy-handed use of disciplinary isolation, and general widespread abuse of minors in these facilities. Though not all children in correctional facilities face abuse, it is believed that juvenile offender abuse is gravely underreported. If your child is the victim of such abuse, our lawyers can help you file a claim and recover money for the suffering you and your child have experienced.
School Sexual Abuse
Like juvenile facility abuse, child abuse in schools happens much more often than people think due to a lack of these incidents being reported. A study conducted by AP.org revealed that child sexual assault at schools is reported at a 7-to-1 ratio — meaning that for every report made, seven other similar instances happen among other students that go unreported. This, as you can imagine, is a serious problem. Teachers and other school staff should not abuse their position over students in this way. If you suspect your child is the victim of school sexual abuse, we can help.
Foster Care Sexual Abuse
The foster care system is meant to help children, and yet, minors are continually placed in dangerous foster homes where they are subjected to various forms of abuse, including sexual abuse. While this type of abuse can happen to any child, studies show that girls are particularly vulnerable and at risk, with 81% of adolescent girls experiencing sexual abuse in foster care. Many survivors of this kind of abuse are now coming forward to file lawsuits against their foster care families or foster care agencies. If you or your child have experienced foster care abuse, our team can help you file a claim and recover compensation for your pain and suffering.
Group Home Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse in group home facilities is often more prevalent than in foster care situations. Similar to school and juvenile facilities, staff in group homes abuse their authority and positions over children, which leads to high rates of abuse, including abuse of a sexual nature. Abuse in these facilities can severely damage a child’s mental health and well-being and leave them traumatized for the rest of their life. If you or your child were abused in a group home facility, our lawyers can help you investigate the case and ensure the liable party is held accountable. We can also help you recover a settlement for the damages caused by sexual abuse.
Sexual Assault of Minors in Prison and Jail
When a minor is waiting pre-trial for their court appearance or has been convicted of a crime, they are sometimes placed in the adult correctional system. This is a practice that was very common but is less so today. Nevertheless, when a minor is placed in the adult system, they are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse by adult inmates. There have been thousands of reports of prison rape and assault. A minor placed among adults in prison is a particularly dangerous condition, and it is imperative that children are protected from sexual abuse in jail or prison. The attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling can help you recover if you have been a victim of sexual assault in Maryland’s prisons and jails. You are entitled to compensation if you are not adequately protected in the corrections system.
What is Sexual Abuse?
In the general sense, sexual abuse is defined as any type of non-consensual or unwanted touching or contact. However, the law is a bit more specific, especially where child sexual abuse is concerned.
According to Maryland Family Law Code 5-701:
- The physical or mental injury of a child where the child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk. This includes the sexual abuse of a child, whether physical injuries are sustained or not.
“Sexual abuse” means any act that involves:
- Sexual molestation or exploitation, which includes:
- Obscene photography
- Pornographic photography
- Sexual offense
- Unnatural or perverted sexual practices
- Sex trafficking of a child
These acts are considered sexual abuse whether they are committed by:
- A parent
- A household member
- Another family member
- A person who has permanent or temporary care or custody of the child
- A person who has responsibility for the supervision of the child
- A person who exercises authority over the child because of their position
- Any individual
How are Child Sexual Assault Offenses Categorized?
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services breaks down child sexual abuse offenses into three categories:
- Sexual Solicitation of a Minor: “Solicit” means to command, urge, entice, authorize, or advise a child by any means, including:
- In person
- Through an agent or agency
- Over the phone
- Through any print medium
- By mail
- By computer or internet
- By any other electronic means
A person may not knowingly solicit a minor to engage in activities that would be unlawful for the child to engage in. A person who violates this law is guilty of a felony and is subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $25,000.
- Sexual Abuse of a Minor: “Sexual abuse” means an act that involves sexual molestation or exploitation of a minor, including:
- Sexual offense
- Unnatural or perverted sexual practices
A person who violates this law is guilty of a felony and is subject to imprisonment of up to 25 years.
- Child Pornography: A person may not:
- Cause, induce, solicit, or knowingly allow a child to engage as a subject in the production of obscene matter, performance, or visual representation that depicts the child sexually.
- Photograph or film a child engaging in an obscene act, sadomasochistic abuse, or sexual conduct.
- Use a computer to depict or describe a minor engaging in an obscene act, sadomasochistic abuse, or sexual conduct.
- Knowingly promote, advertise, solicit, distribute, or possess with the intent to distribute any matter, performance, or visual representation that depicts a minor engaged as a subject in sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct.
- Use a computer to knowingly compile, enter, transmit, make, print, publish, reproduce, cause, allow, buy, sell, receive, exchange, or disseminate any notice, statement, advertisement, or minor’s name, telephone number, place of residence, physical characteristics, or other descriptive or identifying information for the purpose of engaging in, facilitating, encouraging, offering, or soliciting unlawful sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct of or with a minor.
A person who violates this law is guilty of a felony and is subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $25,000 for the first offense. For each subsequent offense, they are subject to imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
When you file a lawsuit, damages are awarded as a way to compensate the victim for losses, pain, and suffering caused by a negligent party, such as a person or an organization. There are various types of damages, and the specific damages suffered can vary from one case to another.
Damages that you or your child could recover for a sexual abuse case can include:
- Medical expenses for an injury resulting from the abuse
- Lost wages if the abuse resulted in missed days from work
- Physical pain & suffering
- Emotional distress, trauma, or PTSD from the abuse
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
With child sexual abuse cases, the majority of the compensation tends to come from pain and suffering and emotional distress. Though sexual abuse can lead to physical injuries, these cases are most often about the mental trauma that has resulted from the abuse.
Who’s Required to Register as a Sex Offender, and How Do I Access the Registry?
The sex offender registry is an online database that makes information about convicted sex offenders public knowledge in Maryland. You can access the registry by going to this page on the Maryland Department of Public Safety website and then clicking on the “Search the registry” button.
Any person who has been convicted of committing a sex offense is required to register with law enforcement in the city and town where they reside. Registration is required upon immediate release from jail, and they must update each year and/or each time they move.
Child Victims Act of 2023
Though cases of child sexual abuse continue to occur at alarming rates, Maryland has just passed a proposal that will make it easier for child sexual abuse survivors to sue those who caused them harm. This proposal — the Child Victims Act of 2023 — allows survivors to file retroactive lawsuits, even if their claims have already expired under the state’s statute of limitations. The law will also eliminate the statute of limitations for all future child sexual abuse lawsuits. Importantly, the new law allows lawsuits against the State of Maryland, Counties, Municipalities, and School Boards regardless of when the abuse took place. The law also eliminates historical damage caps, notice provisions, and other provisions in the Maryland code retroactively, permitting multi-million dollar lawsuits against government for child sexual abuse cases going back decades.
How a Maryland Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer Can Help
Any kind of lawsuit can be challenging for the victim, but child sexual abuse cases are especially complex due to the highly sensitive subject and how traumatizing these incidents can be. Child sexual abuse lawyers play a crucial role in these cases and can often take care of all the complex legal matters so the victim can focus on themselves and recover from their trauma.
Specifically, a Maryland child sexual abuse lawyer can:
- Help conduct an investigation
- Review police reports and medical records and obtain other necessary evidence
- Prove who was at fault
- Help you build a strong case to defend your rights
- Establish a strategy to ensure you get the high-value settlement you deserve
- Handle communications with the other parties involved
- Keep you updated throughout the process
- Represent you in court if the case goes to trial
Top Rated Maryland Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers
The Maryland personal injury lawyers at Zirkin & Schmerling Law has helped victims win their cases to collect the compensation they need and deserve. We care about the health and well-being of our clients and understand how tragic and traumatizing child sexual abuse cases can be. Our compassionate team will fight hard to protect you or your child.