Brian White | October 6, 2022 | Texas Laws
The terms sexual assault and sexual abuse are often used interchangeably. However, the terms have very different meanings under Texas law. Learning the difference between the two crimes can help injured victims seek compensation for damages they sustained because of these intentional torts.
What Is Sexual Abuse According to Texas Law?
Generally, sexual abuse is used to describe the ongoing sexual contact between an adult and a minor. The age of consent in Texas is 17 years old. Therefore, any sexual conduct with a child under 17 cannot be consensual, as the law does not recognize a child as having the ability to consent to sexual relations.
Child sexual abuse can include:
- Sexual intercourse
- Exposing genitals to a minor
- Oral sex
- Sexual petting or touching
- Masturbating in a child’s presence
- Forcing a child to masturbate while watching
Child abuse can be extremely harmful to a child’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Abuse can result in developmental delays and impairments. It is a crime under several Texas statutes, including but not limited to:
- Continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children (Texas Penal Code Section §21.02)
- Sexual assault of a child (Texas Penal Code §22.011)
- Indecency with a child (Texas Penal Code §21.11)
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child (Texas Penal Code §22.021)
Sadly, most children know their abuser. Child sexual abusers can include parents, friends, teachers, coaches, pastors, school administrators, caregivers, and many more. Abusers are subject to criminal penalties.
However, child sexual abusers can also be sued in civil court for the damages they caused to the child. In addition to the abuser, employers, property owners, businesses, daycares, schools, churches, and other entities could also be liable for a child sexual abuse claim.
The statute for seeking damages arising from child sexual abuse cases is 30 years. Talk with a Houston child abuse lawyer to discuss your rights or your child’s rights regarding a personal injury claim for sexual abuse.
What Is Sexual Assault According to Texas Law?
Sexual assault is most often associated with sex crimes involving adult victims. The crimes are generally a single event of non-consensual sexual activity. In Texas, sexual assault is generally known as rape.
As with sexual abuse of a child, a victim of sexual assault can sue the person who assaulted them for damages. In addition to the attacker, other parties could share liability for a sexual assault claim. For example, employers, property owners, hotels, businesses, and schools could be liable under negligence and premises liability claims.
The Texas statute of limitations for sexual assault claims against the attacker is usually five years. However, claims filed against negligent third parties are generally two years.
What Damages Can I Receive for a Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault Lawsuit in Texas?
Sexual abuse and sexual assault are intentional torts by the attacker or abuser. The attacker or abuser caused someone harm through their intentional acts. Third parties would likely be sued under negligence and premises liability laws.
Sex crimes often have life-altering consequences for the victims. In addition to physical injuries, a victim may experience debilitating emotional distress, including depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. These conditions can prevent them from functioning in daily life, including going to school or work.
Personal injury lawsuits can provide compensation for the victims. While a monetary award cannot undo the damage caused by sexual abuse and sexual assault, it can provide for ongoing mental health treatment and other expenses.
A victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse could recover economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Hospital and doctor’s bills
- The costs of mental health treatment
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Disability and impairment
- Mental anguish
- Loss of income and benefits
- Decrease in quality of life
- Reduced earning capacity
- Emotional distress
The value of damages depends on several factors, including the severity of injuries and emotional distress. In some cases, jurors may also award punitive damages to “punish” the defendant for their gross negligence and malice.
What Should You Do if You Were the Victim of Sexual Assault or Sexual Abuse?
Seek medical and mental health treatment immediately. Then, report the abuse to law enforcement officers.
As soon as possible, contact a Houston sexual assault lawyer to discuss your case. The person who abused or attacked you does not have to be convicted of a crime to be held liable in civil court. The burden of proof in civil court is lower than the burden of proof in criminal court.
It can be difficult to discuss what happened to you with another person. Attorneys offer free consultations that are confidential and private.
Contact the Houston Personal Injury Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – East Fwy
11811 East Fwy, Suite 630-06
Houston, TX 77029
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – South Loop
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Houston, TX 77054