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Justice for Child Victims of Sexual Abuse
Jess J. Araujo
There are some injuries that are so extreme and severe that no perfect remedy is available to adequately compensate the victim or to remove the permanent effects of the harm suffered. Such is the case with child victims of sexual abuse and rape. These unpardonable and inexcusable violations of the laws of nature and society have been a horrendous reality since the beginning of time. Dealing with this challenge to protect our children has been a primary responsibility for law enforcement agencies and behavioral professionals everywhere.
While there is no perfect remedy, in the United States, unlike in other countries, there are numerous federal laws and laws in every state that provide protection for children and punishment for those that sexually abuse them. Unfortunately, despite all these well intended laws, an incalculable number of childhood abuse incidents occur every day. And, the biggest obstacle to identifying and punishing the criminals that sexually abuse children, is the refusal by the victim and his or her family to report the crime.
In the case of child victims of rape and sexual abuse, the reasons for a refusal or unwillingness to report the crimes have been well documented by child psychiatrists, psychologists and law enforcement experts in this field. In the case of Latino child victims of rape and sexual abuse, there are powerful cultural and religious factors that present additional challenges to reporting these despicable crimes especially when the perpetrators are priests, pastors, or other church leaders. Devout Catholics and members of other religious denominations are often reluctant to file complaints against pedophile leaders based on a mistaken belief that doing so would be disloyal to their church. This is not true. Today, the vast majority of religious leaders, including Pope Frances, have called for the identification of predator priests and have vowed to report such criminals to police authorities.
Dr. Lisa Aronson Fontes, a distinguished clinical psychologist and recognized expert in dealing with Latino child victims of sexual abuse has documented the cultural concerns related to the profound shame associated with such abuse. “Shame” she states is “used to control others and creates a tendency to cover up rather that acknowledge an error or wrongdoing…and even outright lying. Becoming involved IN ANY WAY in the child abuse system is itself a shaming experience for many Latino families.” And, child victims feel guilty thinking that they participated in the acts especially if there were multiple incidents, if they were given gifts or if they or their families were threatened with reporting undocumented immigrants. Victims are told that no one would believe them against a priest or pastor.
Justice for child victims of rape and sexual abuse can only be achieved if the victims and their families report the crimes to the police to make sure that the criminals are punished and removed from positions that enable them to continue to abuse children. Victims should also use attorneys to file claims for compensation. The courts have ordered very large compensation awards averaging more than $1 million dollars for victims. No amount of money will ever remove the unimaginable permanent emotional, psychological and physical pain that victims have suffered. However, these significant awards cause the leaders of churches to take effective action to make sure that pedophile priests and pastors are identified and removed form their churches. The compensation also helps to obtain necessary therapy and treatment to help victims and their families start to recover.
This is a call to all victims, many of whom are now adults, or their families, to contact our offices for help in obtaining all remedies available to finally achieve well deserved and long delayed JUSTICE.
Call us today for a free and confidential consultation to find out what we can do to help. The lawyers at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo are committed to assisting and seeking justice for any and all survivors of abuse for their inexcusable actions and we are ready to stand by your side and fight for you. Click Here for more info.