Articles Posted in Abuse & Neglect

technology%20keyboard%20close%20up%20grey%20slim%20keys.jpgThe age of the Internet has brought a whole new risk or danger into the homes of most children and families – predators using online chats and communications to lure children. Because these risks, parents should take efforts to put restrictions and to supervise the use of the computer / internet by children. It should be noted that child predators are very shifty, clever, and lack impulse control when it comes to luring and enticing children into dangerous and life changing situations. Children lack the ability to consent from a legal, moral, and developmental standpoint.

Law enforcement officials, at times, are able to catch child predators who attempt to meet with children and then molest, assault, and rape them. Since the chats are online and saved for evidence, it can be most difficult for a child predator to defend himself or herself from the allegations that the child predator had the intent to assault / rape a child who the child predator made contact with. Like other criminal cases, the Defendant will be entitled to the representation of a criminal defense attorney or the public defender’s office. When a child predator is caught and prosecuted, it does make one wonder how many other crimes were committed by the child predator and how many more crimes would be committed if the child predator was out in the community.

The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) reported the recent arrest of a 24 year old man who was accused of having the intent to meet with and have sex with a 10 year old girl. You can read more about this disturbing story and the FBI’s fine undercover efforts to arrest this man at FBI – Man Wanted to Have Sex with Girls.

Technology%20Camera%20Photograph.jpgChild molesters and abusers are masters at deception, lies, misrepresentations, and trickery. Some lies are big ones while other lies are small ones the mission. Whatever the extent of the lie, the mission of the molester is the still the same – to lure a child into a trap and then abuse, molest, and / or assault the child.

Lost Dog Scheme

One tactic (of many) used by child abusers or molesters is the “lost dog scheme”. A child molester or predator will cruise around town and try to locate a child to supposedly “help” the predator find a “lost dog”. While dogs are frequently lost or missing in the community, a dog owner can look for his or her dog on his or her own or with the help of adults. A child should be instructed to stay away from strangers even if the stranger seems to need help finding a dog or doing some other good deed. While it is a tough lesson to teach a child, it is a very important one that can save the child from harm’s way and, in some instances, serious personal injuries and even death. Child molesters and predators are not always strangers to the child. Some are family friends and some are even family members. As such, the advice to stay away from strangers does not fit every situation of a child put at risk by a molester or child abuser.

Law%20Books%20Statutes%20Regulations.jpgWhen a child is abused or molested, a civil case may be pursued against the Defendant individually and possibly against a school, day care center, after school program, or other organization that employed or had a duty to supervise the Defendant who committed the horrendous acts against the child. In a civil case, there are two types of damages that can generally pursued: 1. Economic Damages; and 2. Non-Economic Damages.

Economic Damages. This refers to bills, expenses, and costs related to the injuries or harm caused by the acts of the Defendant. Economic Damages can be awarded for past bills and expenses and future bills and expenses reasonably related to the acts of the Defendant. For instnace, past medical bills and counseling expenses would be examples of economic damages. Often times, expert testimony is necessary to establish the need and reasonableness of the medical and counseling bills in the past and to be incurrein the future.

Non-Economic Damages. This refers to pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish and other damages reasonably related to the harm caused to the child as a result of the abuse and molestation of the child. In most States including Florida, there is no formula in place that sets forth the minimum or maxium damages for such cases except for cases against a government entity.

Insurance%20contract%20documents%20liability%20stacked%20papers.jpgWhen a case or claim is filed on behalf of an injured child, a Child Injury Lawyer will obtain documents and information pertinent to the case. Among the documents requested in a typical case will be those related to liability insurance. If the case involves a day care center, school, sports program, government agency, business, homeowner, or other person or entity, there may be liability insurance in place that will cover the injuries or damages related to the abuse or molestation of child. It should be noted that insurance policies vary as the following:

language and terms of the policy;

insurance coverage;

Law%20Books%20Statutes%20Regulations.jpgWhen a civil case or claim is pursued on behalf of injured child, one issue that often arises in every case is that of value of the case. A Child Injury Lawyer is often asked the the following questions:

*How much is the case worth?

*How much is the defendant willing to offer?

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With the vast use and access to the Internet, more and more crimes especially those committed against child (or at least attempted) originate from contact initiated on line through chat messages, e-mail, text messages, and social media networks like Facebook. A criminal or civil case may be established with evidence gathered online through websites and user accounts like the ones on Facebook. When a person is charged with crimes or attempted crimes, the Defendant will be entitled to representation by a criminal defense attorney or the public defender’s office. One issue that may be raised by the Defense is that the messages were not sent by the Defendant but by someone else with access to the account or by someone who hacked the account.
While this defense may be raised, it is unsuccessful in many cases due to the overwhelming amount of evidence in place against the Defendant. This is especially true when the Defendant sends photos or other identifying information to the child.

Because of the risks online and the fact that predators use Facebook and other sites to lure children in, parents should monitor computer use and make sure that the children are safe in the house, out of the house, and, yes, online. In Polk County, Florida, a police investigation resulted from a mother who was concerned about a man from Massachusetts who was soliciting her 16 year old son on Facebook. Once police were notified, police went undercover “online” and continued the apparent contact at least as far as the man in Massachusetts knew. The man was ultimately arrested after further messages and naked pictures were sent by the man to the 16 year old boy. It is disturbing to note that the man charged with this crimes is a Junior Hockey coach. You can read more about this story at Man Arrested for Crimes Involving Solicitation and Facebook – Polk County, Florida.

law%20book%20on%20table.jpgWhen a child is abused or neglected or molested, the case of claim can be pursued against the defendant and possibly others including but not limited to schools, day care centers, camps, sports organization others. One of the elements of a legal case or claim is that damages. This refers to the injuries past, present, and future that are related to the attack, abuse, or molestation. Often times, it is helpful for the child to receive counseling or therapy following a traumatic incident of being abused or molested. The need for counseling or therapy depends on a number of factors including the following:

the age of the child;

the recollection by the child of the events;

technology%20microphone.jpegMany child abuse in molestation incidents are investigated by the police, social services, law enforcement and / or the state attorneys office. As part of the abuse / molestation investigation of abuse or molestation, a child is frequently subjected to one or more interviews by law-enforcement officers regarding the facts and circumstances underlying incidents of abuse and / or molestation. Parents often ask a Child Injury Lawyer the following question:

What should be done to prepare a child for the interview by law enforcement?

First, it should be noted that parents should not conduct an interview or practice interview with child before law enforcement does so. While parents may honestly attempt to make the situation easier for the child, the interference and meddling of parents may end up ruining or coloring the criminal investigation. Because of this, parents should refrain from asking too many questions or coaching the child before law-enforcement takes a statement from the child. Second, rather than coaching the child or conducting a practice interview, parents should only reassure the child by telling the child that it is safe to speak to the investigators and that the investigators will work to keep the child safe. Finally and most importantly, the parents should tell the child to be honest and to do the best to cooperate with the investigators. Parents along with the child should cooperate fully with the criminal investigation. If requested by law enforcement, parents should make the child available for more than one interview. Furthermore, if the investigators need to visit the child at home or at school, parents should allow for this as well.

Law%20Books%20Statutes%20Regulations.jpgWhen a child is the victim of abuse or molestation, a case or claim can be pursue on behalf of the injured child. The civil case may be pursued against the perpetrator as well as a school, day care center, church, or other entity that may have employed the perpetrator if the abuse took place as at the facility or during a facility related event and field trip. In many instances, the Defendant uses a position of trust to gain access to the child. As part of the manipulation, the Defendant may use this position of trust to not only mislead the child but to also mislead the parents.

If a child is raped, abused, or molested and then undergoes a medical examination, there may be forensic or medical evidence to support the case. In addition, there may be forensic or medical evidence if there is blood, fluids, or other DNA that can be detected on clothing, bedding, and / or other items. In some instances, there is even a child that results from the illegal and immoral acts of the perpetrator against the child victim. While medical evidence including that of DNA can be quite powerful, the pursuit of a civil case is not necessarily wholly contingent on the availability or proof of medical evidence.

It should be noted that other evidence may be used to pursue a case or claim for the abuse and / or molestation of a child as follows:

U.S.%20State%20Flag%20Florida.jpgWhen there is a report or allegation of the possible abuse or molestation of a child, there may be more than one government agency involved with the investigation of the allegations. Here is a list of government agencies that may be involved with the investigation:

Police / Sheriff’s Office. Like other allegations or reports of crimes, the local police / sheriff’s office may be involved with the investigation. Many local police departments and sheriff’s offices have special divisions set up to investigate abuse, sex, and / or crimes committed against children. Through a criminal investigation, the police / sheriff’s office can take statements, issue warrants, and issue subpoenas when charges are filed. If there is probable cause established, arrest warrants can be issued. At this point in time, the State Attorney will typically take the lead on the criminal case.

State Attorney / Prosecutor. There is typically a close working relationship between the State Attorney / Prosecutor and the local police / sheriff’s office. Efforts are coordinated to some extent in the collection of evidence and statements to help establish the elements of the criminal case against the alleged perpetrator / Defendant.