San Francisco Child Sexual Abuse Attorney
Child sexual abuse is a disturbing crime that no parent wants to believe can happen to his or her child. Sadly, thousands of children in California alone suffer from this crime each year. The experienced and reputable lawyers at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi are passionate about bringing child sexual abusers and sexual predators to justice.
Our attorneys represent victims in civil lawsuits against perpetrators and the institutions that cover up child sexual abuse. If you or a loved one is a child sexual abuse victim in San Francisco, contact us to start your case with a free private consultation.
Why Choose Us?
- Our lead attorney, Attorney John C. Manly, has over 25 years of experience going up against powerful adversaries on behalf of child sexual abuse survivors in California.
- We have obtained over $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for past clients. We are the attorneys that clients trust when results matter most.
- Your lawyer will always put your needs first. We will keep your identity anonymous throughout your child sexual abuse case, if desired.
- We work on a contingency fee basis for child sexual abuse cases in San Francisco. This means you won’t pay us unless you win your case.
San Francisco Child Sexual Abuse Resources & FAQs
- What Is the Definition of Child Sexual Abuse?
- What Are the Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse?
- What to Do if You Suspect Child Sexual Abuse
- Are You a Victim of Child Sexual Abuse? You Have Rights
- Holding Institutions Responsible for Child Sexual Abuse
- What Is the Burden of Proof in a Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
- Compensation Available for Child Sexual Abuse Claims in San Francisco
- What Is the Statute of Limitations in California?
What Is the Definition of Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse generally refers to an ongoing or long-term pattern of sexual assault and other sex crimes committed against a victim who is under the age of 18. It is also referred to as child molestation or pedophilia. In California, no person can give his or her consent to sexual activity before the age of 18. Thus, any type of sexual contact or stimulation involving a minor is illegal. This includes:
- Any sexual contact involving a child
- Touching or fondling a child’s private parts (including a female’s breasts)
- Forcing a child to touch someone else’s privates
- Penetration of any kind for sexual pleasure
- Internet child sexual abuse
- Child pornography
- Exposing a child to pornography
- Obscene language, phone calls or digital interactions
- Exposing one’s genitals in front of a child (exhibitionism)
- Sex trafficking
- Rape or statutory rape
Child sexual abuse can be physical or nonphysical. It can take place between an adult and a child, an older child and a younger child, or two children who are the same age. It can occur at a school, church, youth organizations and clubs, sports programs, foster homes, daycare centers, a doctor’s office, an overnight camp, and many other settings. At Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, we can represent victims of any type of child sexual abuse and assault in San Francisco.
What Are the Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse?
Many victims of childhood sexual assault and trauma do not come forward to report the crimes committed against them until many years later – or at all. There are many reasons for this, including fear, guilt, intimidation and memory repression. If a parent or guardian learns how to recognize the warning signs of child sexual abuse, he or she may be able to put an end to the abuse earlier. Common red flags of child sexual assault include:
- Physical signs of abuse, such as bruising near the genitalia or on the upper thighs.
- Sudden or unexplained fear of a certain person or place.
- Lack of interest in favorite hobbies or activities.
- Reluctance to undress, such as to bathe or change clothes.
- Unkempt appearance or a lack of personal hygiene.
- Sudden changes in appetite or weight.
- Outbursts, tantrums or sudden aggression.
- Regression to earlier behaviors, such as bedwetting or thumb-sucking.
- An unusual amount of knowledge or curiosity regarding sexual subjects.
- Sexually transmitted diseases or teenage pregnancy.
Child sexual abuse can have many long-term ramifications on a survivor’s life. These include mental, psychological and emotional health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Sexual abuse can also cause behavioral issues, such as trouble in school, and difficulty forming intimate relationships with others. Finally, it can lead to an increased risk of substance abuse and suicide.
What to Do if You Suspect Child Sexual Abuse
If you have reason to believe that your child is a victim of sexual abuse or assault in San Francisco, take action immediately. Make sure your child is in a safe place and call 911 if the situation is urgent. Talk to your child. Let your child know that he or she is not in trouble. Try to get as many details as you can about the abuse without overwhelming your child. Then, take him or her to a hospital in San Francisco for a professional medical evaluation.
Trained staff members can complete a sexual assault forensic exam to collect any evidence that may be available on your child’s body or clothing. Next, report the crime to the police by using the San Francisco non-emergency police number at (415) 553-0123, if you have not already called 911. If you or your child wishes to talk to someone who is trained in handling sexual abuse situations, you can call the national hotline at (800) 656-4673 for a confidential conversation with someone who can help.
Once your child feels safe and has gotten professional medical care, consider your legal options. You may be able to file a civil claim against the perpetrator and/or an institution for failing to prevent sexual abuse at the same time as a criminal case brought against the defendant. Cooperate with the police and prosecutors for the criminal case. Then, discuss your right to file a civil lawsuit with a San Francisco child sexual abuse lawyer.
Are You a Victim of Child Sexual Abuse? You Have Rights
Child sexual abuse is a crime in California, but it is also recognized as a civil tort or act of wrongdoing. This means that the abuser – and, potentially, third parties – can be held civilly liable for the victim’s related injuries, harm and losses. Civil liability means legal and financial responsibility. Filing a civil claim is your right as a survivor of child sexual abuse or the parent of an underage victim.
Bringing a claim or lawsuit for child sexual abuse in San Francisco can have many advantages. First, it allows a victim to hold a perpetrator and/or institution accountable for the crime(s) committed. Second, it gives the victim a voice in the civil justice system and the chance to stand up to the abuser, helping to close a traumatic chapter in the victim’s life.
Third, filing a lawsuit can spread awareness about child sexual abuse and safety issues within the victim’s community. It may compel a school to create better anti-sexual abuse campaigns, for example, if a student is discovered to have suffered sexual abuse by a teacher or fellow student. Speaking up could protect other children in the future.
Finally, bringing a civil claim for child sexual abuse can result in financial compensation being paid for your past and future related losses. A successful settlement or judgment award could enable you to pay for your necessary health care costs and psychological counseling, for example, making it easier for you and your family to move forward.
Holding Institutions Responsible for Child Sexual Abuse
A child sexual abuse claim in California may be brought not only against the individual perpetrator but the overarching institution, as well. Institutions are often found liable for child sexual abuse for their failure to protect the children in their care. An institution is responsible for preventing child sexual abuse through efforts such as anti-harassment protocols, sexual assault reporting procedures, proper adult supervision, employee background checks and training, and prompt responses to complaints.
If an institution falls short of this responsibility, it can be held sued for negligence during a child sexual abuse claim. At Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, our lawyers have experience going up against many different types of institutions throughout California on behalf of our clients, including:
- Public schools
- Private schools
- Military schools
- Religious institutions
- Health care centers
- Sports organizations
- Daycare centers
- Foster homes
- Summer camps
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- Juvenile probation camps
No matter where the child sexual abuse took place, our lawyers can help you seek justice against the institution. We are no strangers to taking on powerful adversaries in the pursuit of compensation for child sexual abuse survivors. We do not back down from a fight and are not intimidated by any defendant. Our lawyers will carefully review your case to identify all at-fault parties. Then, we will help you file a claim against one or more defendants.
What Is the Burden of Proof in a Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?
A civil lawsuit brought against a perpetrator is different from a criminal case. While the burden of proof in a criminal case is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” it is only “a preponderance of the evidence” in a civil case. This means evidence that proves that the defendant is more likely to have caused the plaintiff’s injuries than not. In other words, the defendant’s liability is established with at least a 51 percent certainty.
If you file a child sexual abuse claim, you have the responsibility to meet the burden of proof using clear and convincing evidence as the plaintiff. An attorney can help you meet this burden by gathering available evidence of child sexual abuse, such as eyewitness testimony, police reports and medical records. An attorney will search for all potential sources of evidence against an individual or institution to support your claim.
Compensation Available for Child Sexual Abuse Claims in San Francisco
You may be entitled to financial compensation for the harm that you or your child suffered as a survivor of child sexual assault. While we know that no amount of money will suffice to repay you for the immense trauma that you have experienced or the hardships that may follow you for the rest of your life, we hope that it can contribute toward your ability to build a new life as a survivor.
Our attorneys are dedicated to pursuing maximum financial compensation on behalf of each client, including damages for:
- Medical expenses: hospital stays, doctor’s appointments, therapy, counseling, psychiatric care, medications, rehabilitation, and other past and future health care costs.
- Pain and suffering: fear, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional distress, mental anguish, psychological harm, lost quality or enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
- Impairment of the capacity to carry on with life: unique damages available to child sexual abuse survivors for the long-term effects of this crime on their lives.
- Financial harm: any lost wages, days off work due to your mental health, travel costs, attorney’s fees and other types of financial harm suffered.
- Punitive damages: an additional award that may be granted to punish a defendant for malicious or especially reckless acts.
The damages that are available to you – and their value – depend on the specific facts of your case. Our San Francisco sexual abuse lawyers can evaluate your case and estimate how much it is worth. Then, as your attorneys, we will pursue maximum financial compensation for your past and future losses. If the defendant’s insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, we can go to trial on your behalf.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in California?
In California, Assembly Bill 218 extended the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases. Effective January 1, 2020, victims of child sexual abuse who wish to come forward with civil claims against perpetrators or institutions have until the age of 40 (22 years from the age of majority) to do so, or 5 years from the date of discovery if they do not discover the connection between their mental health disorders and child sexual abuse right away, whichever is later.
If the survivor was an adult at the time of the sexual abuse or assault, he or she has 10 years from the last assault or attempted assault to file a claim in California, or 3 years from the date of discovery. These are both longer than the previous statutes of limitations, but it is still important to act quickly if you believe you have grounds to file a lawsuit in San Francisco. You do not want to risk missing the statute of limitations and being barred from financial compensation.
Contact Us Today | Free Confidential Case Reviews in San Francisco
For more information about bringing a civil lawsuit for child sexual abuse in San Francisco or the surrounding areas, contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi at (800) 700-8450. We offer free, 100 percent confidential case reviews with attorneys who specialize in sexual assault and abuse lawsuits. We will help you and your family fight for justice during this difficult time. Request a free consultation today to learn more.