Criminal sexual abuse is a sexual act that was committed with the intent to do any of the following to another individual:

  • Abuse;
  • Harass;
  • Humiliate, or
  • Degrade.

The laws that govern criminal sexual abuse vary by state and depend heavily on the definitions that are contained in the statutes of the specific state. The laws of each state will often differentiate offenses based on the age of the victim.

For example, if a child suffers sexual abuse, it is typically classified as child molestation. If an adult has been sexually abused, it is often referred to as either rape or aggravate sexual abuse.

There are three common categories of sexual abuse that occur, including:

  • Child sexual abuse;
  • Rape; and
  • Aggravated sexual abuse.

Most states classify child sexual abuse dependent on the age of the victim. An individual may commit child sexual abuse or child molestation if they engage in a sexual activity with a minor with the intent to arouse, appeal, or gratify their sexual desires.

An individual may commit rape if they engage in an act of intercourse against the will of a victim through means involving:

  • Force;
  • Violence;
  • Duress;
  • Intimidation; or
  • Fear of serious bodily harm.

It is important to note that these guidelines will vary in accordance with each state’s specific laws. If an individual is a victim or has been charged with a sexual abuse crime, it is essential to contact a local attorney immediately to determine the local laws.

There are statutes of limitations (SOL) that apply to sexual abuse claims. The SOL sets an amount of time that a victim or a prosecutor has to file a lawsuit.

Typically, if an individual files their lawsuit after the SOL has expired, their case will be dismissed. It is important to note that criminal and sexual abuse claims have different deadlines for filing.

In addition, there are different statutes of limitations that may apply depending upon the timing of the abuse. In Wisconsin, there are different statutes of limitations in adult and child sexual abuse cases.

The statute of limitations that will apply in a case is that which existed at the time of the abuse. In other words, even if the SOL was lengthened since an incident, it will usually not renew a time-barred case.

Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse

A victim of sexual abuse can file a civil lawsuit to demand compensation and damages from their abuser. The victim may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages, including compensation for their pain and suffering.

In the State of Wisconsin, civil sexual abuse cases must be filed within the following time frames:

  • Childhood sexual abuse cases: Before the victim’s 35th birthday;
  • Adult assault and battery cases: Two years; and
  • Adult personal injury cases: Three years.

If an individual suffers sexual abuse at their workplace, they may also have a sexual harassment lawsuit under federal law. They must file a complaint, called a charge, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the sexual abuse or harassment.

The EEOC will investigate the claim and determine whether or not to pursue a lawsuit on their behalf. If the EEOC does not litigate the individual’s claim, it will issue a Right to Sue letter.

A lawsuit must be filed within 90 days of receiving the Right to Sue letter. If an individual has questions or needs advice regarding the statute of limitations in their case, they should contact a personal injury lawyer.

If an individual sustains a personal injury as a result of an unlawful act, they should contact a personal injury attorney.

Criminal Cases for Sexual Abuse

In Wisconsin, as with other states, criminal cases are filed by the state on behalf of the victim. In order for criminal charges to be filed, an individual must notify law enforcement of the sexual abuse.

Law enforcement will investigate the claims. The prosecution may file charges against an abuser.

If a suspect is found guilty of a criminal offense, they may be sentenced to significant jail time as well as being required to register as a sex offender. The criminal statute of limitations in Wisconsin will vary depending on the severity of the offense, including:

  • First degree sexual assault: There is not a statute of limitations;
  • Other sexual crimes against a minor: Prior to the victim’s 45th birthday;
  • Second and third degree sexual assault: 10 years;
  • Other felony sexual assault: Six years; and
  • Misdemeanor offenses: Three years.

If DNA evidence is used to identify the offender, criminal charges may be filed during the 12 months following the offender’s identification, even if the SOL has expired. Although the criminal SOL are lengthy in Wisconsin, an individual should not delay reporting their sexual abuse.

The prompt reporting of an offense can help law enforcement build a stronger case against an abuser using DNA and other evidence. Child sexual abuse occurs when an individual:

  • Improperly touches a child’s private parts;
  • Shows a child improper nude pictures;
  • Takes pictures of the child when the child is undressed;
  • Entices the child with the intent of sexually abusing the child;
  • Engages in explicit sexual conduct with the child.

If an individual is convicted of child abuse, they face severe consequences. The court will consider the age of the child as well as the severity of the abuse when determining the punishment.

Criminal consequences for child abuse may include:

  • A term of imprisonment;
  • Criminal fines from several hundred to several thousand dollars;
  • Probation lasting from a few months to a year;
  • Loss of custody or visitation rights with their children;
  • Anger management or parenting classes

If the offense involved sexual abuse, the perpetrator may be required to register as a sex offender, possibly for life.
Child abuse is a serious crime. Any individual who has been charged with it should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Other Compensation for Crime Victims

The Crime Victim Compensation Program in Wisconsin helps pay for a victim’s crime-related medical bills as well as other expenses. A victim may be eligible for up to $40,000 in benefits.

There are, however, reporting and filing deadlines that apply to victim compensation claims. Typically, the individual is required to report the crime to law enforcement within 5 days of the crime or within 5 days of when the crime could have been reasonably reported.

An adult victim must apply for benefits within 1 year of the abuse. A minor victim must apply for compensation within a year of turning 18.

Do I Need a Wisconsin Criminal Lawyer for Help with a Case?

It is common for sexual abuse claims not to be pursued for many reasons. It is important for you to know that you do not have to face your abuser alone.

Your personal injury lawyer can help you file a civil case for compensation, advise you of your rights, and provide emotional support throughout the process. It is also important to file criminal charges with law enforcement.

If you have been charged with a sexual abuse crime, it is important to consult with a Wisconsin criminal lawyer. Your lawyer will help ensure your rights are protected during the criminal prosecution process.