Top 10 Questions About Child Sex Abuse Charges
Frequently asked questions about child sexual assault answered by an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney
If you face a child sex abuse charge, you may have questions about what it means and what comes next. Fortunately, the Neal Davis Law Firm can help by answering these and other common questions about child sex abuse charges in Texas.
Question #1: What is child sexual abuse?
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), child sexual abuse is “any interaction between a child and an adult or older child in which the child is used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or an observer.”
Such sexual abuse often involves direct physical contact, touching, kissing, fondling, rubbing, oral sex or penetration of the vagina or anus. The NCTSN reports:
“Sometimes a sex offender may receive gratification just by exposing himself to a child, or by observing or filming a child removing his or her clothes. Offenders often do not use physical force, but may use play, deception, threats, or other coercive methods to engage youngsters and maintain their silence.”
Such crimes can range from statutory rape to non-contact abuses such as voyeurism, indecent exposure, and child pornography. An estimated 20 percent of children are sexually solicited while on the Internet.
Question #2: What are Texas child sex abuse charges?
Under Texas Penal Code 22.011, sex abuse charges are more serious when they involve a child, meaning anyone younger than 17. Depending on the specifics of the crime, charges can be second-degree felonies with punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Even if no physical contact is ever made, soliciting a minor online is a felony offense under Texas law known as Texas Penal Code Section 33.021. This could lead to 2 to 20 years in prison and a hefty fine.
The same goes for possession of child pornography, a serious offense which requires a strong child pornography possession defense.
Question #3: How pervasive is child sexual abuse?
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, D.C., 20 percent of girls and 5 percent of boys are victims of child sex abuse by an adult. The rate could be even higher since child sexual assaults may not be reported in up to 88 percent of cases, says the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Those most vulnerable to child sexual assault are children between the ages of 7 and 13. However, 16 percent of youths 14 to 17 years old are also sexually victimized.
Child advocacy organizations like Chaucie’s Place claim that about two-thirds of all reported sexual assaults happen to children who are 17 and younger. The group also says that around 42 million survivors of child sexual assault currently live in America.
In other words, it’s a huge problem in this country.
Question #4: Who commits child sexual abuse?
Varying research shows that 75 to 90 percent of reported child sex abuse crimes are committed by a person in the child’s family or by a trusted person outside the family — not a stranger. The usual familial nature of the crime could contribute to the low rate of child sex abuse cases reported to authorities, since family members may try to cover it up.
Teaching children to be wary of strangers is of little help when it comes to child sexual abuse, given these statistics. The vast majority of victims knew their assailant well in advance.
The NCTSN says the majority of offenders are male, though “a small percentage” are female. Other studies show up to 20 percent of child sex abuse is committed by females, including notorious recent cases of teacher-student sex scandals.
Studies also show that as many as half of all child molestation cases yearly involve older teens (ages 13 to 17) committing an inappropriate act on younger children. In fact, a large amount of child sex abuse occurs when teens abuse other children.
Question #5: Does most child sex abuse involve force?
No. Studies show that offenders are more likely to use deceptions or enticements to lure and abuse a victim than using violence, threats or force.
Question #6: Do some children willingly participate in sexual activities, and if so, does this make them partly responsible for what happened?
Under Texas law, the “age of consent” for sexual activity is 17. A child who is younger than 17 cannot legally consent to sexual activity since the child, at that age, isn’t considered to have the maturity needed to make such a decision. Thus, even if a child willingly has sexual activity, if the child is under 17 years old that’s not considered consensual sex and it’s illegal.
Question #7: Are most child sex abuse offenders repeat offenders?
A common myth is that child sexual abuse offenders are chronic offenders, committing the same crime over and over again. However, a study reported by ABC News showed that child molesters had a reconviction rate of just 13 percent, compared to a reconviction rate of 37 percent for persons who committed non-sex offenses.
Question #8: Are many child sex abuse defendants falsely accused?
Some research shows that child sex abuse crimes aren’t falsely reported at a higher rate than false reports of other crimes. However, other research indicates a higher rate of false child sex abuse reports. In fact, it’s believed that almost 10 percent of all reports of child rape or child molestation are false child sex abuse claims.
Question #9: Why would I be falsely accused of child sexual abuse?
Being falsely accused of child sexual abuse often happens to a person who’s involved in legal battles for child custody, child support or a divorce, where the false child sex abuse claim is made as leverage to gain control. Adults may coach a child to claim sex abuse occurred when none, in fact, existed. Also, a child may misconstrue the nature of a relationship and claim sexual abuse occurred when it did not.
Question #10: If I’ve been falsely accused of child sexual abuse, can I fight back to reclaim my reputation and avoid prison time and fines?
If you’ve been falsely accused of child sex abuse, you can fight back by engaging an experienced sex crimes defense attorney for Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County.
Contact us at our law firm today for a confidential legal review of your case. You need the strongest defense against a child porn charge or other child sex abuse charge. You need the Neal Davis Law Firm.