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Texas criminal court and civil court in child abuse cases

According to a research done by the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, one out of every five girls is sexually abused, and one out of 20 boys. The most vulnerable age of children for sexual molestation is age 7 to 13. Of course, these figures err on the lower side because it is well-known that child abuse often goes unreported.

Sadly, studies also showed that three out of four of these child victims were abused by someone they knew. Also, children who were raped or experienced an attempted rape were much more likely to be raped in their first year of college — up to 13.7 times more likely. Those who experienced prolonged sexual abuse as a child developed self-esteem issues and feelings of unworthiness. They often ended up with distorted views of sex and sexual activity.

Punishing a sex offender in Texas can be taken up in criminal and/or civil court. When an arrest is made, a sex offender faces charges in the Texas criminal court system. The crime is known as a "crime against the state," with the prosecutor representing the state. The offender is determined to be guilty or innocent, and if found guilty, sentenced accordingly by the court.

If a personal injury case is filed against the offender in a Texas sexual abuse case, it is heard in a civil court. The focus is not on finding the offender guilty or innocent of a crime, but in determining if the offender is responsible for the damages the victim suffered from his or her actions. If the accused is found liable for damages, he or she can be ordered to pay compensation or restitution for those damages, which may include pain and suffering, as well as physical injuries sustained from a sexual or violent assault.

Source: The National Center for Victims of Crime, "Criminal and Civil Justice" accessed Mar. 19, 2015

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