Defining Sexual Abuse in TexasTexas Administrative Code § 711.13 provides a thorough definition of sexual abuse. The first thing that is important to understand is that this act occurs to any child who is younger than the age of consent and is perpetrated by an adult (older than the age of consent). Texas Penal Code § 21.11 and Penal Code § 22.011 define the legal Age of Consent as 17. This means that a person under the age of 17 who is violated by an individual over the age of 17 is being abused. There are limited exceptions to this in Texas. The “Romeo and Juliet” law allows two individuals who are within three years apart and no younger than 14 years old to have consensual contact. That means a 17-year-old and 14-year-old could have consensual contact, but if an 18-year-old had sex with a 14-year-old, it is considered statutory rape (sexual abuse). The acts of sexual abuse can range from sexual hugging all the way up to penetration. Sometimes there is no touching involved and the perpetrator may expose themselves to the child, film the child getting undressed, or show the child pornography. All these acts constitute sexual abuse.
What Are the Penalties?Abuse of a minor is a serious charge. The younger the child, the more severe the criminal penalties may be. Also, the number of times the act was perpetrated will factor into how many charges the person will face. However, the prison time can be anywhere from 2 to 20 years, with fines, too. In addition, the person can be held civilly responsible for the damages they caused the minor child.
Recoverable Damages for Sexual Abuse in HoustonThe injuries of a sexual abuse case can vary. Everyone who is abused will deal with substantial mental pain and anguish that could be long-lasting. Most individuals will require therapy to help heal from the trauma. There may be other needs the person has due to being sexually abused. Your Houston sexual abuse lawyer will pursue the full extent of damages that you can recover. Some of these may be for the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Medical appointments
- Counseling and therapy
- Future loss of income due to anxiety, PTSD, and depression
Statute of LimitationsIn most Texas civil cases pertaining to personal injury, you would typically abide by Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.003, which allows two years. However, sexual abuse cases are completely different because they involve a minor child. Sometimes a minor child may not be able to file a lawsuit until they are older. Other times, they have been so traumatized by the incident that they do not tell anyone and do not face it until they are older. Therefore, Texas allows victims of child sexual abuse to have 30 years after their 18th birthday to file a civil suit. This law was passed in 2019 with the passing of HB 3809.
Sexual Abuse StatisticsSadly, sexual abuse is all too common, and most times it is done by someone the child knows. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that every nine minutes, a minor is sexually abused. Some of the statistics they have provided are as follows:
- Of sexual abuse cases where the victim was under 18 years old, 34% were under 12, and 66% were between 12-17.
- One in 9 girls are victims of sexual abuse, while 1 in 53 boys faces sexual abuse.
- People who have been a victim of sexual abuse are four times more likely to abuse drugs.
- Sexual abuse victims are four times more likely to have PTSD as adults.
- Sexual abuse victims are three times more likely to have major depression as an adult.
- 93% of the victims knew the abuser.