Sexual abuse is a devastating event that can have a lifelong impact on the victim. The physical, emotional and psychological scars can permanently alter a victim’s personality, and many survivors are deprived of their ability to feel comfortable, happy and secure in their everyday lives.
I was made to feel welcome and part of a family that was looking out for my needs when no one else would.
– Client of Schmidt Kramer
Unfortunately, some victims and their families may not feel safe enough to take legal action. However, help is available. At Schmidt Kramer, our Harrisburg sexual abuse lawyers are ready to advocate for you and use the legal system to seek justice on your behalf.
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible to pursue compensation from the abuser/perpetrator, and/or the entity the abuser/perpetrator was employed or affiliated with, such as a school, religious organization or private company.
Call anytime, day or night to schedule your free consultation. We are ready to help you today.
Schmidt Kramer. Ph: (717) 888-8888.
Am I Eligible to File a Case?
Determining the validity of a claim and the potential financial value of that case can be difficult without knowing all the details that are associated with the incident. Sexual abuse cases can be quite complex, and many factors may be involved in the calculation of a damages amount.
However, we also understand that holding negligent parties responsible for their actions can be an important part of the healing process for abuse victims and at Schmidt Kramer, we are ready to answer any legal questions you may have.
An initial consultation is complimentary and confidential with no obligation to hire us. If we determine that you do have a case and you would like to proceed with a lawsuit, there are no upfront fees for our services. We are not paid unless you receive compensation.
Talk to a lawyer today. Call (717) 888-8888.
Compensation for Victims of Sexual Abuse
A knowledgeable attorney at Schmidt Kramer is prepared to review your situation and discuss compensation that may be available, such as:
- Past, present and future medical costs
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Funds to relocate
- Lost income
- Physical rehabilitation
- Psychological therapy
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
The compensation available depends on the specifics of your claim. Our Harrisburg sexual abuse lawyers are committed to pursuing maximum compensation for damages. We may also be able to arrange counseling and therapy to help with psychological trauma and mental health issues.
How Much Time Do I Have to Take Legal Action?
Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill to overhaul child sexual abuse laws in Pennsylvania in November of 2019. One of the bill’s main objectives was to provide more time to file for future sexual abuse victims.
The new laws were introduced over a year after a landmark grand jury report showed hundreds of child abuse cases that were covered up by Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic churches for over 70 years. The new laws influenced many other states to change their laws and start new investigations of past allegations of child sexual abuse.
Under old laws, victims between the ages of 18-23 would have up to age 30 to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, however, under the new legislation, victims would have up to age 55 to file.
However, claims based on federal law no longer have a statute of limitations. On September 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, which eliminated the statute of limitations for civil claims for sex abuse crimes against minors. This includes claims about sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, along with sex trafficking and forced labor.
It is important to note this new law is not retroactive. That means it only applies to claims which have not already been barred by an old statute of limitations. The new law does not apply to claims involving incidents that already occurred.
If you are unsure about whether you still have time to take legal action under state law, we recommend speaking to one of our licensed attorneys in a free case review. We are ready to seek justice and compensation for you.
Speak with a member of our legal team to schedule your free private consultation.
Trusted. Local. Lawyers. Ph: (717) 888-8888.
Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse occurs when a child is forced to take part in sexual activity, often with an adult. Perpetrators are usually people the child knows, trusts or is expected to obey. Abuse could include things like touching/fondling, sexual intercourse, and activities where there is no physical contact between the perpetrator and victim, such as:
- Performing sexually explicit activities in the presence of a child
- Sex trafficking
- Taking provocative pictures of a child
- Exposing oneself to a child
- Allowing a child to view pornographic movies, videos or pictures
- Saying or writing inappropriate remarks on the phone, text messages or other online media
- Violating a child’s privacy by watching him or her bathe or undress
If your child was the victim of any of these forms of abuse, our Harrisburg sexual abuse attorneys are available to discuss legal options in a no-cost, confidential consultation.
Who Could Be Held Liable in a Child Sexual Abuse Case?
One of the reasons child sexual abuse happens is the abuser is often someone the child knows and trusts. This is often the reason why abuse can happen for a long period of time before others find out.
Sometimes employers and other entities protect abusers or fail to investigate claims of abuse, which means they could potentially be held liable for abuse. Entities that could be held liable for abuse include:
- Schools and universities
- Other religious organizations
- Gymnastics schools
- Boy scouts
- Youth sports teams and management
- Daycare centers
- Dance clubs
These organizations could be held accountable for lack of monitoring workers, negligent hiring, and failing to investigate claims of abuse or contacting the authorities.
Local live-in schools have been linked to sexual abuse. In recent years, a houseparent and assistant ice hockey coach were both charged and convicted of sexual offenses against former students. A $3 million dollar settlement was reached in a case filed on behalf of students abused by the son of a houseparent.
At Schmidt Kramer, we work hard to pursue negligent and abusive parties to not only seek maximum compensation for our clients, but to prevent them from harming other children ever again.
Free Case Review. Ph: (717) 888-8888.
Common Signs of Child Sexual Abuse
Trusting your child with another person can be challenging for most parents. Babysitters, teachers, religious leaders, coaches and other community leaders responsible for the welfare of children should be properly vetted, however, sometimes perpetrators can go unchecked.
Children often feel intimidated or embarrassed to admit or discuss abuse. The abuser may have even threatened the child or told the child not to say anything.
If you think your child is hiding this type of abuse, you may want to look out for these common signs:
Physical could include trauma to the genital area, such as bruising or bleeding that cannot be explained, abnormal walking or limping, difficulty sitting, bedwetting, or ongoing or chronic pain while urinating. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and urinary tract infections (UTIs) may be physical signs of abuse.
Behavioral signs could include acting unusually secretive or withdrawn, actions or words the child should not know, exhibiting inappropriate sexual behavior, or refusing to change clothes or bathe. The child may also be reverting to old behaviors he or she outgrew (i.e. bedwetting or thumb sucking).
Emotional signs could include a sudden change in appetite or eating habits, mood swings and angry outbursts, nightmares and insomnia, fear of being alone at night, excessively worrying or fearfulness.
There are also many long-term effects of sexual abuse, such as:
- Major self-esteem issues
- Severe depression
- Confusion, shame and guilt
- Social phobia
- Sleep-related issues
- Inability to trust others
- Flashbacks of the abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Re-victimization (involvement in abusive or toxic relationships)
- Sex and intimacy-related issues
When sexual abuse victims grow older and mature, they often take on certain coping mechanisms to deal with the harm done to them. This may include drug or alcohol dependency or other self-destructive behaviors. Our firm knows the healing process can take a long time and are here to help.
If You Suspect a Child is Being Harmed
Aside from recognizing the warning signs (which are not always obvious), there are other important steps to take if you suspect a child is being harmed.
Talk to the Victim
It is important to choose a safe space where the victim is comfortable or ask him or her where they would like to talk. Avoid talking in front or near the person who may be causing the harm. Be sure your tone is casual and non-threatening to help keep the victim at ease. He or she will be more inclined to open up and talk freely. Be sure to also talk to the victim directly, using words he or she will understand.
Avoid judgmental questions and statements as well as placing blame. Simply reassure the victim and let him or her know that you are concerned for his or her well-being. Remember that this conversation may be very terrifying for the victim. You may not know if he or she has been threatened into keeping quiet.
Report it to Authorities
Before reporting the abuse to the authorities, be sure that the victim knows you will be talking to someone else who can help. The victim should be placed in a safe environment and if you are concerned over his or her safety, inform the authorities when you make the report. Be prepared to identify the victim, the nature of the abuse, and your relationship to the victim.
Resources Available for Sexual Abuse Victims
There are a multitude of resources available for child sexual abuse victims on a local, state and national level. Some of these resources include, but are not limited to:
- YWCA Greater Harrisburg Violence Intervention and Prevention Services – This organization offers free individual and group counseling services to victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault, including a 24/7 crisis hotline.
- Dauphin County – Child Abuse & Neglect Investigations – This is the agency to call if you suspect sexual abuse of a child. All reports are confidential and referred for investigation.
- Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) – The PCAR provides immediate and long-term services and resources to victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault (and their loved ones).
- The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline – This hotline is devoted to preventing abuse in children, including sexual abuse. Professional crisis counselors are ready to help 24/7.
Contact a Harrisburg Sexual Abuse Attorney
Speaking to an experienced attorney could be an important step as you consider legal action over sexual abuse. Schmidt Kramer has been representing injury victims for more than 30 years, helping to recover millions of dollars in compensation on their behalf. Review our client testimonials and reviews to see what our satisfied clients had to say about our services.
Schedule your free case review today and learn more about how we may be able to assist you. Your free case review is completely confidential, and you are not obligated to hire our firm to represent your case.
Our office is in Harrisburg at 209 State Street, which is just a few blocks away from the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex.
Call the dedicated attorneys at Schmidt Kramer anytime, 24/7, or fill out a Free Case Review form.
Find out if you have a case. Call (717) 888-8888.