Sexual Abuse Cases in Massachusetts
According to statistics, instances of sexual abuse are on the rise in Massachusetts as well as across the United States. More and more people are coming forward and opening up about the trauma they have been forced to endure. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, or your child has been sexually abused, it is important that you understand that you are not alone. Dealing with the trauma of being abused is not something that you can do overnight. For some, it can take several years to cope with what took place and accept the fact that it was not their fault.
In some instances, victims may be able to pursue legal action against their abusers. You may have legal options available to help you move forward. Should you or your child be victimized, it is important that you act quickly to protect your legal rights.
Taking Legal Action Against Your Abuser
When people think about legal action being taken against a perpetrator of sexual abuse, they often think of criminal courts and jail time as consequences. However, victims may have legal options available to help them move forward in civil court as well.
People who are sexually abused can file lawsuits against a person who caused them harm. These cases do not require the perpetrator to be charged and found guilty in criminal court. However, a criminal conviction can help bolster your claim and provide you with further information and evidence for your lawsuit.
Victims of sexual abuse are able to file claims in civil court that can help them recover financial compensation to help cover some of the financial burdens they face moving forward.
A civil lawsuit can help you seek compensation for:
- Lost wages if you have to take time off of work
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and mental health services
- Physical injuries
- Medical expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And more
Filing a civil claim against your abuser not only helps you recover financial compensation for your damages, but it helps to hold your abuser to account.
If you are considering whether you should file a legal action against a person who caused you harm, you can reach out to a sexual abuse lawyer in Massachusetts to discuss your case. Our lawyers at the Law Offices of Carmen L. Durso can meet with you at any time to discuss your case in the legal options available for you.
Boston – Former Boston Nanny Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges
On Wednesday, authorities confirmed that 37-year-old Stephanie Lak was sentenced to three years in prison and ten years of probation after pleading guilty to charges involving child pornography.
According to reports, in March of 2021, Lak was arrested after a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was received. Investigations show that Lak, who was 36 at the time, used a selfie-and her IP address to possess and distribute materials of a child engaged in a sexual act. The Boston Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit and the FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force received the tip and were able to make a positive connection between the material and Lak.
A search warrant was issued and law enforcement seized a laptop and cellphone in connection to the case. On the devices, authorities found a total of seven videos and photographs. They also found several chat discussions surrounding sexual acts performed on a baby. The victims were 5-year-old and 3-year-old girls.
Lak was taken to jail. In May 2022, she plead guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison and ten years of probation with restrictions that forbid her from working with, living with, or being around any children.
Former Massachusetts Police Dispatcher Spencer Hughes Sentenced for Child Pornography Charges
A former Massachusetts Police Dispatcher, 33-year-old Spencer Hughes of Randolph, was sentenced to five years of supervised release after pleading guilty to receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography involving a child under 12-years of age, according to reports.
Reports from authorities show that in October 2020, the police obtained a search warrant for Hughes’ home. While searching the premise, authorities found a hard drive on the kitchen table that was later found to have several folders with female names on them.
In one of the folders, officers located at least nineteen image files. At least ten of the files were still images and nine were video files. The images had minor females, between the ages of 10 and 11. All of the images were taken in what appears to be a child’s bedroom.
On the same table as the hard drive, authorities located police-issued equipment, including a knife, bag and ID badge, and an empty magazine. Several electronic devices and external hard drives were also located. These devices had more than 2200 images and around 70 videos of child pornography.
Hughes was subsequently arrested and pleaded guilty to the charges.
On May 18, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts confirmed that Hughes was sentenced to five years of supervised release.
Types of Sexual Abuse Against Children
Although we entrust the safety of our children to daycare providers, teachers, and other figures of authority, we continue to see innocent children suffer at the hands of sexual predators.
Sexual abuse toward a child can involve exposing a child to anything that is sexual in nature, inappropriate touching, showing them pornographic material, sexual intercourse, exposing genitalia, or masturbation. Regrettably, it is often difficult to identify signs of abuse among children, especially when they are very young.
It is important to understand that there are several types of sexual abuse that a child can be exposed to. Although abuse can take several forms, any type can have life-changing consequences for victims. Some of the most common forms of sexual abuse reported against children in Massachusetts include:
Psychological pressure/coercion: This type of abuse occurs when victims are controlled mentally by the perpetrators. They are tricked into engaging in sexual acts with their abuser. In many cases, the abuser will intimidate the child by threatening them or their families.
Forcible rape: This type of abuse occurs without a victim’s consent. This act involves the use of physical force or threats. Victims may be coerced into believing that resisting the act will not have any impact on the actions against them.
Indecent exposure: This act occurs when a perpetrator exposes their own genitals to a young child or exposes the child to any type of pornographic materials. Indecent exposure does not generally involve any type of physical contact. Instead, it is a mental and emotionally abusive act toward a child.
Proliferating child pornography: Child pornography is any type of video, photo, audio recording, or other depiction that involves children engaging in sexual acts or conduct. Victims of child pornography are often forced to endure the trauma of sexual exposure and overwhelming fear of having materials of them leaked onto the internet or exposed to others.
Unfortunately, children who are forced to endure any type of sexual abuse experience both immediate and long-term mental and emotional impacts. Children often suffer physically as well.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse is critical when it comes to intervening and stopping the acts from continuing.
Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
When a child experienced sexual abuse, they often exhibit very symptoms and signs. There are certain things that you should look for when it comes to determining whether your child is subjected to some form of sexual abuse. This includes:
- A sudden change in their appetites
- A sudden change in their sleeping habits
- Having an inability to sleep
- Having nightmares
- Self-esteem issues
- Depression or anxiety
- Unexplained anger outbursts
If your child shows any of these symptoms or signs, it is important that you talk to them about what is going on in their life. You need to assure them that they are safe and that you will do whatever you can to protect them. You must gain your child’s confidence and trust so that they will open up and tell you what they are experiencing. It is important that you refrain from overacting as this can prevent your child from telling you further details about their abuse.
If your child opens up about being abused, it is important that you take the necessary steps to ensure they are protected. You will want to contact law enforcement to ensure the abuser does not continue their actions against your child or other victims. You will want to reassure your child that they are safe and that you will protect them. You may want to seek mental health services to help your child cope with the trauma they were forced to endure. You may also consider reaching out to a sexual abuse attorney to explore civil legal options available to your child.
Instances of Sexual Harassment
In addition to being subjected to the above-mentioned forms of sexual abuse, we see a significant number of people who experience sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can take place in any location and comes in various forms. In general, sexual harassment can be verbal or non-verbal.
Some forms of verbal sexual harassment include:
- – Making offensive jokes toward or about someone repeatedly
- – Prodding about an individual’s sexual and/or personal life
- – Making sexual propositions against another person
- – Making obscene telephone calls to others
- – Sexual comments or suggestive comments
- – Making obscene broadcasts over loudspeakers or radios
- – Use of inappropriate language
Some of the non-verbal types of sexual harassment include:
- – Making sexually suggestive stares, sneers, or gazes toward another person
- – Hanging sexually explicit materials on the walls
- – Mandating that females perform various types of domestic tasks while in the workplace
- – Following individuals around with no legitimate purpose
Unfortunately, there are also instances where sexual harassment can be physical. Some of the physical forms of sexual harassment include:
- – Attempting to or succeeding in touching another person’s genitals, breasts, or other body parts
- – Pushing, shoving, or jostling another person
- – Sticking your hands or other objects in another person’s pockets
- – Brushing up on someone
- – Hugging someone without their approval
- – Pinching another person
There are several acts that can be considered sexual harassment. Generally, this term can be used to describe any type of sexual or sexually suggestive conduct that is subjected toward another person. If you have been subjected to some form of sexual harassment or abuse, you may be able to pursue legal actions against your abuser. It is crucial that you act quickly to protect your legal rights.
Sexual Abuse or Harassment at an Institution
If you consider taking legal action against the person who is responsible for your abuse, it is important that you understand that there may be multiple people who you can take legal action against. In general, if the abuse or harassment occurred in any type of institution, such as a school, daycare facility, or business, the owners or operators of the institution or facility can be held liable as well. It is important that a thorough investigation is conducted to determine all of the parties against whom you can take legal action.
Our Lawyers Can Help You Move Forward
If you or your child are a victim of sexual abuse, you may have legal options available to help you move forward. Seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable sexual abuse lawyer in Boston can make a significant difference when it comes to your chances of getting justice. Although there is nothing that you can do to undo the traumatic events that occurred, there are legal options that make the process of moving forward a bit easier.
Seeking the assistance of the Law Offices of Carmen L. Durso can make a big difference when it comes to your chances of getting justice. Contact our Massachusetts law firm today by calling 617-728-9123. Attorney Durso is committed to creating a comfortable environment so you can come forward and tell your story. Contact our law firm today to get the justice you deserve.
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.