If you or a loved one has suffered sexual abuse while under the supervision of a church, school, or another organization, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income, among other damages. Our law firm is working with some of the more experienced sexual abuse attorneys in Rhode Island and there are no legal fees until you receive a settlement or award. Call us today 24/7 toll-free at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out an online contact form for a free (no obligation) case evaluation.

crying child abused child needing a sexual abuse lawyer

Have You or Someone You Know Suffered Sexual Abuse?
Call d’Oliveira & Associates for a Free Case Evaluation!

New RI Legislation on Child Sexual Abuse

On July 2, 2019, during a session of the Rhode Island General Assembly, new legislation was passed extending the time a victim of child sexual abuse has to file a claim against the perpetrator. Previously, the statute of limitations extended only 7 years. Now, the statute of limitations has been extended to 35 years after the victim reaches adulthood (18 years old) regardless if the victim was time barred under current law. This now gives victims, who were children during their abuse, the opportunity to file suit up until they reach the age of 53. In a win for justice, those have been effected by such sexual abuse, but previously could not file a claim, should contact our offices today. We are more than happy to help you understand the change in law and hopefully finally getting you the justice that you deserve.

What Is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is defined by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in four categories: (1) physical abuse; (2) sexual abuse; (3) emotional abuse; and (4) neglect. Physical abuse is the intentional harming of a child through violence, such as kicking, burning, and punching. Meanwhile, sexual abuse involves a child who is forced to endure or perform sexual acts on another. Emotional abuse is when a perpetrator effects a child’s self-worth and emotional stability. Lastly, neglect is usually a parent or guardians failure to provide a child with the basic of human necessities.

How To Identify Sexual Child Abuse?

abused child needing a sexual abuse lawyerChild sexual abuse can involve sexual acts, fondling, or grabbing. Sexual abuse is not just physical contact. It also includes child pornography, exposure, and voyeurism (experience of pleasure from watching others in a sexual act). There is no tell-tale sign that a child has been sexually abused or molested. Parents and family members should be mindful of their child’s behaviors and notice any unusual changes. Since you know your children best, you should try to talk them about any concerns you have in a way that makes them feel safe. Some signs to look out for many include:

Emotional Signs:

  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Sudden or unusual changes in behavior
  • Depression and sadness
  • Emotional extremes
  • Self-destructive
  • Suicidal thinking

Physical Signs:

  • Sudden weight changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Risky or unusual sexual behavior
  • Cutting/self-mutilation
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Relational Signs:

  • Decreased socialization
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Spending an unusual
    amount of time with an adult outside of
    the family
  • Problems at school

Where Does Abuse Happen?

Abuse can happen anywhere a person has unrestricted access to children and teenagers. This situation arises at camp, church, school, and other places. Coaches, scout leaders, and Sunday school teachers play an important role in our children’s lives and we trust that they will do their best to care for our children. Unfortunately, sometimes this trust is misplaced.

children in a classroomGroups that host activities for children need to use the best hiring practices and safeguards. For example, churches should have an appropriate screening process for all of their Sunday school teachers. This may require the church member to be in good standing, provide references, submit to a background check, and undergo training. Also, many states have licensing requirements for employees at day cares, pre-schools, and schools. Additionally, these organizations need to have safeguards. This means that all classrooms should have windows, adults should avoid being one-on-one with a child, and adults should never be alone with children in the bathroom. Organizations need to take reports of inappropriate behavior seriously, investigate the matter, and deal with it appropriately. As a parent you should ask your children about their time at camp or practice and you should “drop-in” on your babysitter or day care to make sure they are meeting your expectations.

Always be aware of your child’s behavior and never place absolute trust in an adult based solely on a family relationship, or friendship, or title. The majority of sexual abuse cases involve someone the child knows and trusts.

  • Boy Scouts: The Boy Scouts of America is an organization that has been teaching camping and survival skills to boys since 1910. Unfortunately, recent lawsuits have revealed that in some cases the organization did not protect boys from sexual abuse and it even covered up incidents of sexual abuse. Read more
  • Church: The Catholic Church has been the subject of numerous sexual abuse cases and several large verdicts and settlements have been awarded to victims. However, sexual abuse is not limited to the Catholic Church, other churches, denominations, and religions have failed to protect children. Read more
  • Schools: Coaches, school counselors, and teachers receive a lot of trust from parents and have a lot of power over children. Cases of sexual abuse at school can place the child and family in a difficult position, accusing a trusted teacher of a shocking crime. However, victims of abuse at school deserve justice and other children need to be protected. Read more
  • Others, such as: Camps, online platforms, day care, foster care, and youth sports leagues.

Sexual Abuse Statistics

Government statistics indicate that 54% of sexual assaults incidents are never reported. Children and women are the most vulnerable victims of these crimes. In just one year, local child protective services identified 126,000 children who were victims of sexual abuse. 15% of sexual assault and rape victims were under the age of 12, 44% were under the age of 18, and 80% were under the age of 30. Also, 93% of children and teenagers who are abused know their abuser.

Millions of men and women across the nation have been the victim of sexual abuse. Almost 3 million men have been the victim of sexual assault. While, 1 out of every 6 women in the United States has been the victim of attempted or completed rape. This amounts to over 17 million women. Sexual abuse has devastating effects on all of its victims. In fact, victims of sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer depression, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and 4 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Sexual abuse cases are complex factually and legally. These cases can be difficult because they deal with an emotional issue, a serious allegation, and may be difficult to prove. Whether a person has a strong lawsuit differs from case to case but it is important to understand that there are lawyers dedicated to pursuing these claims and a sexual abuse lawsuit can be filed years after the incident occurred. Read more

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Do You or a Loved One Need a Lawyer to Pursue Your Lawsuit

clients meeting a sexual abuse lawyerIf you or a loved has suffered sexual abuse at church, school, or another organization, then you may be able to recover for your injuries. Our law firm has focused solely on personal injury law and we are sensitive to the injuries of our clients. We work with some of the more experienced sexual abuse lawyers in Rhode Island who can help you take a stand for justice. And, there are no legal fees until you receive a sexual abuse settlement or award. Feel free to call our 24-hour phone line at 1-800-992-6878 for more information or fill out a contact form for a free legal consultation.


  1. rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims
  2. rilin.state.ri.us/pressrelease/_layouts/RIL.PressRelease.ListStructure/Forms/DisplayForm.aspx?List=c8baae31-3c10-431c-8dcd-9dbbe21ce3e9&ID=370507
  3. cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/fastfact.html