Child sexual abuse is a serious crime that is illegal in the United States. In this article, we’ll define the term “child sexual abuse” and explain the laws that relate to it.
According to the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), child sexual abuse is “the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or the rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.”
Another definition from the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect is "Contacts or interactions between a child and an adult when the child is being used for sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person when the perpetrator or another person is in a position of power or control over the victim."
Every state has its own laws about child sexual abuse.
In some states, mandated reporters, or people in certain professions such as foster parents, lawyers, camp counselors, teachers, and social workers, are required to report child abuse when they suspect it. In others, any person who suspects child abuse is required to report it to the authorities.
The statute of limitations for child sexual abuse also varies from state to state, typically ranging from fewer than 10 to more than 21 years. The statute of limitations may be counted from when the victim turns 18, or until they become a certain age, such as 31.
Each state has its own penalties for child sexual abuse, although it is generally considered to be a felony punishable by a minimum of one year in prison. Aggravating circumstances will typically increase the sentence to life in prison. Aggravating circumstances include:
If you have been charged with child sexual abuse, it is important to hire an experienced sexual assault lawyer who will be able to build a defense for you in order to help you be acquitted or receive the minimum possible penalty.