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Chicago Child Sexual Abuse Attorney

Sexual abuse is devastating at any age, but for a child, this type of trauma can have immense and lifelong effects. In Chicago, childhood sexual abuse survivors have the right to take their perpetrators to civil court to pursue justice and financial compensation for physical injuries, emotional damage, and medical care.

The attorneys at Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC represent survivors of child sexual abuse in Chicago and throughout Illinois. We are passionate about helping clients and their families demand answers for the egregious wrongdoing of childhood sexual assault. Contact us today for a free, confidential case consultation in Chicago.

The Importance of Hiring a Chicago Child Sexual Abuse Attorney

Hiring an attorney to help you navigate the legal process can be crucial for many reasons. Your lawyer can lend legal knowledge based on experience with cases that are similar to yours to make sure your rights and best interests are protected. With a lawyer advocating for you, an insurance company will not be able to take advantage of you during the claims process.

An attorney can investigate your child sexual abuse case, identify the defendant(s), collect evidence, hire experts, and take over settlement negotiations with an insurance claim provider on your behalf. Your lawyer will understand the trauma you experienced and provide empathetic and supportive legal representation during this difficult time.

Defining Childhood Sexual Abuse

According to Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 13-202.2, the definition of criminal childhood sexual abuse is to commit sexual abuse against a victim who is under 18 years of age. “Sexual abuse” is defined as an act of sexual conduct by the use of force or threat of force, or while knowing that the victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or is unable to give knowing consent.

In Illinois, no individual below the age of consent can give his or her legal permission to engage in sexual activity. The age of consent in Illinois is 17 years old. Sexual intercourse or other sex acts – including inappropriate touching, fondling, groping, kissing, or penetration – with any child under 17, or a 17-year-old without his or her consent, is a sex crime in Chicago.

Child sexual abuse often describes an ongoing cycle or repeated episodes of sexual misconduct rather than an isolated event. The penalties for a criminal child sexual abuse conviction can include years of jail or prison time, fines, and registration on the Illinois Sex Offender Database. The perpetrator could also face additional penalties through the civil justice system if the victim files a claim.

Who Are the Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse in Chicago?

Child sexual abusers are often people who hold positions of power, trust, or authority over their victims. They use these positions to get close to targets, often grooming them (giving them gifts or special attention to establish a relationship) before exploiting their positions to take advantage of victims.

Perpetrators may include:

In most cases, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 93 percent of perpetrators are known to the victim while only 7 percent are strangers. Of the 93 percent, an estimated 59 percent are acquaintances and 34 percent are family members.

What Are the Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse involves complex emotions and psychology, such as an adult exploiting a position of trust with a minor to trick him or her into staying silent or believing they are in a loving, consensual relationship. In other cases, a victim is too young to understand what is happening or have the words to speak up. It is often up to adults in the child’s life to detect potential signs of sexual abuse.

While every child is unique, common signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Physical injuries, particularly in the genital and anal areas
  • Anxiety, fear, or panic attacks
  • Fear of a certain person or place
  • Changes in mood, behaviors, or personality
  • Outbursts, aggression, or “acting out”
  • Withdrawal or isolation from friends and activities
  • Regression, such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting
  • Reluctance to remove clothes or bathe
  • Reduced performance in school
  • Using new words for private parts
  • Engaging in oversexualized play with other children

If you suspect that your child has suffered child sexual abuse, report it to the police immediately. Take your child to a hospital with a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Program for a sexual assault forensic exam and medical care that he or she needs. Bring your child to a psychologist who specializes in child sexual abuse to address the mental and emotional trauma of this crime. Then, discuss your legal rights moving forward with an attorney.

Questions Child Sexual Abuse Survivors May Have

We know how confusing and emotionally complex your experience is as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. We are here to answer questions that are frequently asked by clients to help you better understand your legal rights and options.

  • What resources are available to me? 

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault offers 24-hour crisis centers in Chicago with resources such as intervention services, counseling, and advocacy. There are also support groups for child sex abuse survivors in Chicago.

  • What are my legal options? 

You can pursue justice against a perpetrator and/or an institution that concealed the abuse by filing a civil lawsuit. A lawsuit could lead to compensation for your past and future medical expenses, therapy costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.

  • How long do I have to file a childhood sexual abuse claim?

As of January 1, 2014, the statute of limitations (legal filing deadline) on childhood sexual abuse cases in Illinois was lifted. This means there is no time limit on bringing a childhood sexual abuse claim after this date; you can take legal action no matter how many years have passed.

For additional questions, personalized legal advice, and an in-depth review of your specific child sexual abuse case, speak to our lawyers in Chicago during a free and confidential consultation.

Talk to a Chicago Child Sexual Abuse Attorney for Free Today

Filing a civil claim in Chicago can hold a sexual predator and/or an institution accountable for the life-changing trauma you endured. It can result in financial compensation to help you plan for the future as well as institutional changes to prevent these crimes from being committed against other children.

For information about your specific legal matter, request a free and confidential consultation with a Chicago child sexual abuse lawyer at Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC. Call (312) 321-8414 or contact us online today.