Recent lawsuits against the Archdiocese of New Orleans have shone the spotlight on childhood sexual abuse. Although many of these cases focus on acts committed decades ago, sexual violence continues to be a horrible reality for many Louisiana children. Many of these survivors may be able to pursue legal action against their abusers.
In 2017, there were 523 cases of child sexual abuse reported to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. Many more cases, however, are never reported to the authorities. According to data compiled by the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LaFASA), one in four girls and one in six boys will be the victim of sexual violence before they turn 18.
Unfortunately, child sexual abuse occurs everywhere children spend time: churches, schools, daycare facilities, clubs and activities, sports, and more. Ninety percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; in 68 percent of cases, a family member is their abuser.
Louisiana’s Broad Definition of Child Abuse
Child sexual abuse can be physical but not always violent. Sexual contact doesn’t just mean penetrative acts like rape or sodomy; it also includes oral sex, fondling, kissing, or touching of a sexual nature.
Children can also be sexually abused in ways that don’t involve direct physical contact. Types of non-contact abuse include acts such as revealing oneself sexually to a child, asking the child to reveal themselves sexually, showing explicit images to a child, or sexually exploiting a child for commercial purposes.
The Louisiana Children’s Code enumerates behaviors that constitute abuse and seriously endanger the physical, mental, or emotional health and safety of a child. These include specific prohibitions:
• The exploitation or overwork of a child by a parent or any other person, including but not limited to commercial sexual exploitation of the child.
• The involvement of the child in any sexual act with a parent or any other person, or the aiding or toleration by the parent, caretaker, or any other person of the child’s involvement in any of the following:
o Any sexual act with any other person.
o Pornographic displays.
o Any sexual activity constituting a crime under the laws of this state.
• Female genital mutilation.
Recovering Compensation for Abuse
If you are a survivor of any kind of child sexual abuse – at the hands of a clergy member or someone else – you may be able to pursue a claim for damages in civil court. Please contact the attorneys at the Lamothe Law Firm today for a free consultation. We will discuss your situation and help you determine if you can recover damages for the harm you have survived.