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Examples of Juvenile Sexual Assault & What Victims Can Do

Not all sex offenders are adults. Juvenile sexual assault cases involve peer-against-peer sexual assault or a juvenile assaulting a younger child.

Not all sex offenders are adults. Juvenile sexual assault cases involve peer-against-peer sexual assault or a juvenile assaulting a younger child. A child who has suffered sexual assault or abuse by a juvenile can receive justice through both the criminal justice system and the civil courts. If you are a victim of juvenile sexual assault in California, learn what to do to protect yourself and seek justice.

Defining Juvenile Sexual Assault and Abuse

Juvenile sexual assault is any unwanted or nonconsensual sexual contact with a child under the age of 18 that is committed by another juvenile. This crime may occur in many settings, including at a school, camp, foster care center, juvenile probation camp, locker room, sports club, YMCA, gymnasium or church youth group. Juvenile sexual assault can happen to a male or female child of any age. Often, a survivor of juvenile sexual abuse does not understand what happened and cannot come to terms with the crime until many years later, when he or she is an adult.

Any Sexual Contact With a Child Under the Age of 18 Is a Crime

Since 18 is the age of majority under California law, no child who is less than 18 years old may legally give his or her consent to sexual activity. Any sexual contact with a child is against the law. This includes the following acts by a juvenile against another minor:

  • Kissing
  • Fondling or groping
  • Touching of the private parts, including a female’s breasts
  • Making a child touch someone else’s genitals
  • Pressing or rubbing a sex organ against a child
  • Inserting body parts or objects inside a child’s mouth, vagina or anus for sexual pleasure
  • Oral copulation
  • Sodomy
  • Rape

Any touching of a child’s intimate parts for the purpose of sexual gratification, sexual arousal or sexual abuse meets California’s definition of sexual battery under California Penal Code 243.4 PC. Furthermore, CA Penal Code 288 prohibits lewd or lascivious acts willfully committed by an individual upon the body or body part of a child under the age of 14. 

Rape, Attempted Rape and Statutory Rape

It is illegal in California to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 years old. The definition of sexual intercourse is any penetration of the vagina or anus by the penis. This is a form of juvenile sexual assault known as statutory rape under CA Penal Code 261.5, even if the intercourse is consensual. This is because no child under the age of 18 can legally consent to sexual intercourse. It is also a crime for an individual to force himself or herself upon a child, even if the perpetrator cannot complete the rape. This is known as attempted rape.

Does California Have a Romeo and Juliet Law?

No, California does not have a close-in-age exemption to its sexual assault law, often referred to as a “Romeo and Juliet Law.” Sexual contact involving a person under the age of 18 is against the law in California even if the other person is also a minor or close in age to the victim. Under California Penal Code 261.5, having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 meets the definition of statutory rape regardless of whether the two individuals are close in age or it was consensual. Juvenile offenders can face criminal charges for engaging in sexual acts with underage individuals despite being near in age or in a relationship.

Nonphysical Juvenile Sex Crimes

Not all juvenile sexual assault crimes involve physical contact with a minor. It is also possible for a juvenile to sexually assault or abuse a child without using physical touch. Nonphysical sex crimes against children include:

  • Coerced nudity
  • Sexually explicit photographing of a child
  • Possessing or distributing child pornography
  • Sharing obscene images with a child
  • Forcing a child to watch pornography
  • Watching a child undress or engage in sex acts (voyeurism)
  • Exposing one’s genitals to a child (exhibitionism)
  • Performing sex acts in a child’s presence
  • Sexual harassment or stalking 
  • Internet sex crimes against children

In some cases, a juvenile or older adolescent may target a younger victim and begin grooming the child from a young age. Sexual grooming refers to building a relationship and developing trust with the child to exploit the victim for sexual abuse. 

What to Do as a Victim of Juvenile Sexual Assault

If you were sexually abused or assaulted as a child by a juvenile in California, you have rights. You may be entitled to financial compensation through a sexual assault lawsuit. It is important to take certain steps to protect yourself physically, emotionally and legally as a survivor of juvenile sexual assault. Here’s what to do:

  1. Go someplace where you feel safe. After being sexually abused by a juvenile, go to a friend or family member’s house or clinic – a place where you can tell someone what happened and get the support that you need. Consider talking to a counselor or national helpline.
  2. Get medical care. Go to a hospital as soon as possible after the attack for a sexual assault forensic exam. This can give you medical care for any physical injuries as well as preserve evidence of the incident.
  3. Report the crime to the police. Call 911 to report the sexual abuse crime to law enforcement. A juvenile can face criminal charges and face a sentence that includes time spent in a probation camp, juvenile hall or jail.
  4. Start building your case. Gather as much information as you can about the assault, including a detailed description of events, the date and location of the incident, the names of any witnesses, your medical records, and photographs of any injuries or physical marks.
  5. Consult with a juvenile sexual assault lawyer. Contact an attorney at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi to discuss your legal rights and options. We can help you take a stand against a perpetrator as well as any institution that failed to protect you from juvenile sexual abuse.

You may be eligible for financial compensation from one or more parties as a victim of juvenile sexual assault in California. Our attorneys can help you seek a fair monetary recovery for your past and future medical expenses, therapies or counseling, medications, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and more.

You Have Rights – Protect Them With Our Help

For more information about your rights as a survivor of juvenile sexual assault or abuse, contact us to request a free and confidential case evaluation. We have represented child sexual abuse victims for more than 25 years. Our lawyers understand what you have been through and are here to help. Call (855) 945-0801 today to learn more.

Manly, Stewart & Finaldi is regarded as America's leading law firm for sexual abuse cases. As a firm that exclusively handles sexual abuse cases, our California law firm offers experienced representation to obtain justice for sexual abuse survivors, harassment, and discrimination.

Learn more about Manly, Stewart & Finaldi.