The Growing Epidemic of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Every day in the United States, children are being targeted both online and in person by predators. In fact, the issue has become so prevalent that the United States Department of Justice established a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic in our country. As citizens, it is important that we understand what child exploitation is and what it looks like.
What is Child Exploitation?
Child exploitation is a type of sexual abuse that is committed against children and youth. These instances involving children who are enticed, coerced, or forced by adults to engage in some type of sexually explicit conduct. Victims can be either male or female and range in age between infancy and 17-years-old. There is no specific race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background that is specifically targeted. This means that any child of any age or race can be targeted.
One form of child sexual exploitation is child pornography. This type of sexual exploitation is defined as “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct that involves a minor child.” This is specifically prohibited by federal law. In fact, the law prohibits the receipt, possession, production, or distribution of any type of images or videos of child pornography.
Unfortunately, there are instances where this type of exploitation occurs. An example was noted just recently in the Boston area.
David Chang Arrested on Child Pornography Charges
A 27-year-old Cambridge man was arrested and charged for purchasing child pornography with digital currency from the dark web. On January 19, the United States Department of Justice announced that 27-year-old David H Chang was taken into custody following a lengthy investigation surrounding his online activity.
According to documents, between April 2021 and January 2022, Chang used digital currency to purchase child pornography from the dark web. Authorities conducted a search of Chang’s apartment on January 19 and took possession of his electronic devices, which were allegedly used by Chang to download the child pornography that he purchased.
During an interview, Chang admitted to agents that he purchased the child pornography from a website on the dark web. Several agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations in New Haven, CT, Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Tolkoff of Rollins’ Major Crimes Unit, and United States Attorney Rach S. Rollins and Matthew B. Millhollin, a Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston all played a role in this investigation and the subsequent arrest.
Chang was set to appear at a hearing on January 21, 2022 on his charge of one count of receipt of child pornography.
How are Children Being Sexually Exploited Online?
The distribution of child pornography on the web is just one of the ways that people share sexually explicit content with children involved. There are many instances where children are abused and it is shared online via social networking sites, online forums, file sharing websites, messaging applications, or even the “dark web.”
Predators often target children online by enticing them and preying on them via internet-accessible platforms. These can include messaging applications, gaming systems like Xbox or PlayStation, or even social medical websites.
Online child exploitation can occur in a variety of ways. These include:
- Perpetrators developing a “relationship” online with the child and convincing them to share sexually explicit content, like pictures and videos, with them.
- Perpetrators will “sextort” children by threatening them that they have to share sexually explicit content with them or they will tell someone their secrets or something about them. The perpetrator can blackmail the child if they do not share more content with them.
- Perpetrators will try to entice children online to meet up with them in person to have sexual relations.
Once a video or image is placed on the internet, you cannot simply take it down. Online predators will quickly swap and share the content with others across the globe.
Robert Daigle Arrested for Receipt of Child Pornography
On January 11, 45-year-old Robert Daigle appeared before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler regarding a charge of one count of receipt of child pornography.
According to investigations carried out by Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Officer, United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and his Major Crimes Unit, Daigle allegedly received child pornography on his electronic devices. Authorities arrived at the scene to conduct a search of the home when they conducted an on-site forensic examination of his electronic devices to find photos and videos depicting child pornography.
A conviction for the receipt of child pornography can result in a sentence between five years and 20-years in prison, five years to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.
Sexual Assault on the Rise in the United States
Not only is child sexual abuse and exploitation on the rise across our country, but we are seeing a devastating increase in instances of child sexual assault as well. Sexual assault is a term that is used to define any type of sexual activity that is unwanted or not agreed upon. This can include any:
- Inappropriate touching
- Rape, whether vaginal, oral, or anal
- Attempted rape
- Sexual contact with someone who is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol
- Sexual activity with a child even if they child says “yes”
There are several different crimes that any of these acts can fit under. Even some non-physical sexual behavior can be considered assault or harassment toward a victim.
There are a few unfortunate facts about sexual abuse that we see here in Massachusetts. This include:
- The majority of victims are assaulted by people that they know
- Sexual assault can take place in a home, on a date, or even in an isolated place
- Sexual assault can take place during the day or at night
- One out of every three women will be the victim of a sexual assault during their lifetime
- One out of every seven men will be sexually assaulted at some time during their life
Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is all too common. A study conducted by the Director of the Crimes Against children Research Center found that:
- One out of every five girls is a victim of child sexual abuse
- One out of every twenty boys is a victim of child sexual abuse
- Nearly 20% of adult females recall being victims of childhood sexual assault or abuse
- Between 5% and 10% of adult males recall being victims of childhood sexual assault or abuse
- Nearly 28% of children between the ages of 14 and 17 have been sexually abused at some time during their life
- Nearly 16% of youth between the ages of 14 and 17 have been victims of sexual assault or abuse within a one-year period
- Three out of every four adolescents have been sexually assaulted or abused by someone they know
Unfortunately, child sexual abuse involves more than just physical contact. This type of abuse can include non-contact abuse like voyeurism, exposure, and child pornography. In addition to child sexual abuse, we see many children molested by people they know and trust.
More than 1.3 million children report being victims of some form of sexual assault each year. One of the most common forms of abuse that children are forced to endure is molestation. In Massachusetts, child molestation, including acts of child rape, are defined under Section 21 of Chapter 119 of the Massachusetts General Laws. This law defines anyone under the age of 18-years-old as a “sexually exploded child” who has been subjected to sexual exploitation.
Child molestation encompasses a wide range of activities performed by an adult against a child. In general, the acts will have some type of sexual undertone, although it may not always be apparent.
Places Where Sexual Abuse, Assault, and Molestation Occur
There is no specific location where victims are targeted by offenders. Although we see many people approached online, we also see a significant number of victims harmed in the following locations:
- In daycare facilities
- In schools
- In colleges
- In church
- At Nightclubs
- At their place of employment
- In nursing homes
- In parking lots or parking garages
- While visiting friends and family
Sexual assault cases are often devastating for victims. Regrettably, there are many instances where people fail to come forward and tell law enforcement what happened to them. It is important that victims know that they can make a difference in their life and the lives of other potential victims by seeking the assistance of our sexual abuse lawyers in Massachusetts. We at Law Office of Carmen L. Durso can help you come forward and inform law enforcement about what happened so that the person who harmed you can be held to account.
Criminal Charges for Child Sexual Abuse and Assault
When people sexually assault or abuse children, they run the risk of suffering the consequences. When people are convicted of sex acts against children, they are often subjected to an array of consequences. Some of the most common punishment for sexual predators include:
- Ordering them to attend counseling
- The loss of parental rights if they have children
- Registering as a lifetime sexual offender
- Lengthy prison sentence
- Probation or parole
The sentencing guidelines for sex offenders are extremely complex. However, when a person is found guilty of abusing a child, there is always some sense that justice is being served.
In Massachusetts, victims who are sexually abused or assaulted are able to pursue legal action in civil court as well. It should be noted that a criminal conviction is not required for a victim to pursue legal action in civil court.
Sexual Abuse Lawsuits for Victims
Victims who are harmed by sexual abusers during their childhood are able to obtain justice against them by filing a personal injury lawsuit. At Law Office of Carmen L. Durso, our sexual abuse lawyers in Massachusetts fight to help victims better understand their legal rights as victims of sexual abuse or assault.
When children are victimized by sexual abusers, we help their families in a variety of ways. Some include:
- We help them better understand the criminal penalties that perpetrators may face
- We help them hold negligent third parties accountable after children are abused
- We help families recover compensation to cover the personal and economic damages they are forced to endure
Our law firm is committed to creating a safe and comfortable environment that victims of sexual abuse can come to, to explain what happened to them. Our lawyers will help victims and their families identify all liable parties and pursue civil sexual abuse lawsuits against them.
How Do Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Help Victims
When children are sexually abused or assaulted, they are able to file civil claims against negligent parties. In some instances, these lawsuits can be filed against their offenders, schools, daycare facilities, and various other locations.
By pursuing legal action against your perpetrator, we can help you collect financial compensation to cover the costs of mental health care, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and a variety of other damages you face as you move forward from your attack.
Law Office of Carmen L. Durso Can Help You
You do not have to move forward after being the victim of a vicious attack on your own. Our lawyers can help you get the mental health services you need, speak with law enforcement, and take various steps that can help you cope with the traumatic experience you have had. Our lawyers will stand by your side and advocate on your behalf to make sure your legal rights and best interests are always protected.
Contact our Massachusetts sexual abuse law firm today by calling 617-728-9123. Our lawyer is available to meet with you at your earliest convenience so we can discuss the legal options available for you.
Notes: This post was created through the use of secondary sources. The details surrounding this incident have not been independently verified. If any information is incorrect, contact the Law Office of Carmen L. Durso as soon as possible so that we can correct the post to include the most accurate information available.
Disclaimers: We have provided compassionate legal representation to children, adult survivors of child sex abuse, and people who have been assaulted by an adult for more than 50 years in Massachusetts. None of the information in this post is intended to be medical or legal advice. This is post is not a solicitation for business.