St. Petersburg Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer

March 21, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

Sadly, child sexual abuse is a common crime that may occur in many forms and among kids of all ages. Not all survivors report the abuse due to threats or fear and shame. Others also may not understand that specific actions count as abuse. If your child is a sexual abuse victim, you could file a lawsuit against the liable party and receive financial compensation that could help your child recover from their horrendous experience.

When you work alongside our St. Petersburg child sexual abuse lawyers, we will investigate the circumstances, collect evidence, and bring a claim for compensation that will help you pay for medical costs, trauma counseling, and more. A civil action can also help bring the abuser to justice above and beyond any charges filed in the criminal law system.

What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

Children under the age of 18 cannot consent to sexual activities because they don't possess the legal capacity to fully understand them. They may also lack insights into the effects of such actions on their body or mental health. Due to these aspects, any sexual act involving a minor is sexual abuse.

While consent refers to agreeing to something voluntarily, this concept is more profound in legal terms. According to Florida sex crime laws, any person under 18 years old cannot agree to sex under any circumstance. The only exception is described in Florida Statutes § 794.05 when a teenager of 16 or 17 years engages in sexual activity with a partner below 23 years.

Forms of Child Sexual Abuse in St. Petersburg

Child sexual abuse exists in many forms, which may be easily recognizable or not. These crimes may occur when an abuser exposes their body to a minor. It may also happen when they send sexual text messages or use certain words in an online interaction or phone call.

Another prevalent form of sexual abuse is fondling a child's body. This aspect refers to when an abuser touches a child for sexual gain or arousal. RAINN clarifies other actions that may constitute sexual abuse, including:

  • Penetrative sex with a minor
  • Owning, creating, or sharing pornographic images and videos of children

Sex trafficking is a prevalent form of child abuse in St. Petersburg. It mainly involves using force, fraud, or coercion to force a child into acts like prostitution or sexual performance in nightclubs and casinos.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Child Sexual Abuse?

The parties responsible for child sexual abuse can differ based on the form of the crime and the place it occurs. Guardians and parents may be responsible if they engage their own children in sexual activities. They can also be accountable if they were aware of the abuse and did not report the case to the police.

Organizers of school and recreational programs are responsible for children's safety when away from home. So, if sexual abuse occurs during a field trip or tour, you may bring an action against the program that organized the event.

School teachers are another party often accountable for child sexual abuse. You may hold a teacher responsible if they forced or influenced your child into participating in sexual activities. It is also possible to sue a party for facilitating or ignoring the crime. Other parties that might be liable for sexual abuse in St. Petersburg include:

  • Sports organizations
  • Coaches
  • Churches and the clergy
  • Youth groups
  • Healthcare providers

How Do Our St. Petersburg Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys Establish Fault in Civil Abuse Cases?

Before taking legal action in a child sexual abuse situation, we must identify the abuser and other liable parties. The compassionate child abuse lawyers at Dolman Law Group will study your case and gather evidence to prove who was responsible for the incident.

For example, a skilled child abuse attorney can analyze any police reports for the details needed to build a solid case. They can also study medical records for more insights into the injuries your child suffered and the treatment they received after the incident.

Another method a St. Petersburg child sexual abuse lawyer may use to establish negligence is interviewing witnesses. These are often other parties that suspected the abuse or were present when it happened. Witnesses to a child sexual abuse case can be guardians, school teachers, friends, or relatives, for example. They might also be other children who are also victims of the abusers' actions.

Types of Evidence That Support St. Petersburg Child Sexual Abuse Cases

When filing a child sexual abuse lawsuit in St. Petersburg, we need to produce evidence linking another party to the crime. Our experienced St. Petersburg personal injury lawyers will help you identify the best proof relevant to the case and use it to support your claim.

Your St. Petersburg lawyer may use medical records as evidence of the other party's negligence. This may indicate the injuries the victim sustained from the abuse. It may also mention the effects of the incident on their mental health and provide a prognosis for the child's recovery.

If an abuser took pornographic media of a minor, we might obtain and use these images or videos as evidence. Such media may help prove specific injuries resulting from the incident. They can also show that the abuser forced or coerced the child into sexual acts. Other evidence our St. Petersburg attorneys may use for a child sexual abuse case are:

  • Police reports
  • Video surveillance footage
  • Audio recording of the abuser confessing to the crime
  • A statement by the abused child

Effects of Child Sexual Abuse That Could Entitle the Victim to Damages

Children may not always disclose they are victims of sexual abuse, especially if they are young or received threats from the abuser. Looking out for various signs of this issue may help you stop it and hold the perpetrator accountable.

According to Kids First of Florida, common indicators of child sexual abuse may include:

  • Sudden behavioral changes like aggression or bedwetting
  • Physical signs of injuries like bleeding or bruises
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior, such as using vulgar words
  • Poor school performance

Another prevalent sign of sexual abuse in children is fear around adults or around a specific adult. The child could also give excuses to avoid activities or places associated with their abuser. For example, they may fake an injury to evade sporting activities if their coach abused them, or they may avoid attending church if the perpetrator is a clergy member. The child may also rapidly lose interest in things they loved before.

The St. Petersburg Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Dolman Law Group are Here to Help

The empathetic legal team at Dolman Law Group can help you and your child face the legal process involved in holding a child sexual abuser responsible for their actions and the harm they caused. We can identify all potentially liable parties and work with healthcare professionals to assess and calculate the damages that resulted from the sexual abuse. We will always respect your privacy and be considerate of your needs during this difficult time.

At Dolman Law Group, we understand the sensitivity of child sexual abuse cases. Our attorneys will take all precautions to safeguard your child's mental health during the legal process. We are here to provide legal counsel on all matters related to the abuse. Call Dolman Law Group now at (727) 472-3909 or fill out our online contact form to speak with a caring legal professional who can explain more about Florida sex abuse cases.

St Petersburg Office
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
Phone: (727) 472-3909


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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