How Does Washington State Define Sexual Misconduct with a Minor?
Pursuant to Chapter 9A.44 RCW, Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the First Degree involves any form of sexual intercourse (penetration), and in the Second Degree involves any form of sexual contact with an individual older than 16, but less than 18, unless the intercourse or contact is committed upon a person less than 21 by a person who holds a supervisory position over the victim, including by a teacher, foster parent, etc.
What is the Sentencing Range in Washington State for Commission of Sexual Misconduct with a Minor?
Washington’s penal code punishes Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in the First Degree as a Class C Felony and in the Second Degree as a Gross Misdemeanor. Pursuant to RCW 9A.20.021, a Class C Felony is punishable by up to life in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both, while a Gross Misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Sex offender registration is also required for committing either crime.
May the Victim Sue the Offender for Commission of Sexual Misconduct with a Minor?
Yes, victims of Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in WashingtonState have a civil cause of action against their perpetrator, as well as against anyone who negligently facilitated the commission of that crime, including state social services agencies (such as with foster child placement), religious institutions, schools, youth groups and social organization and activities providers (such as a “scouts” or “explorers” group).
What is the Civil Statute of Limitations that Applies to Sexual Misconduct with a Minor?
Pursuant to RCW 4.16.340, children and adults may sue their perpetrators for any form of child sexual abuse in Washington State until the later of three years after the act; three years after discovering that an injury (including a mental health condition) was caused by the act; or three years of discovering the act for which a claim of injury/distress is asserted. In practice, very few sexual abuse cases are subject to defeat based on a statute of limitations defense.
Is it Considered Sexual Misconduct with a Minor in Washington State if the Victim is Under 16?
No, Chapter 9A.44 RCW defines various other forms of sexual abuse of minors, including child molestation in three degrees; rape of a child in three degrees; and taking indecent liberties with a child. Any of these child sexual abuse offenses may be prosecuted both under criminal codes and civil statutes in Washington State.
What Should I do If I AM or WAS the Victim of Child Sexual Abuse?
You should immediately report any form of child sexual abuse. You can report this to the police; to a teacher; to a doctor or other healthcare provider such as a Physician’s Assistant, Advanced Registered Nurse Provider, other nurses or mental health counselor; or to a lawyer familiar with these types of circumstances. All of these individuals are trained and responsible to assist victims of child sexual abuse, who never need to suffer in silence.
Can Washington Law Center Help Me if I AM or WAS a Child Sex Abuse Victim?
Yes. At Washington Law Center, our sensitive and compassionate attorneys have assisted numerous child sex abuse victims to recover million dollar + recoveries for their damages. It is never the child’s fault. A child cannot give consent to improper contact or intercourse. Every child that has been or is the victim of child sex abuse in Washington should consult with our attorneys as soon as they can, including because it is always safest and easiest for our attorneys to navigate statute of limitations defenses the earlier we learn the facts of your case. You are not alone.
The Content Provided Herein is the Consensus View of Experienced Sex Abuse Attorneys in Washington State.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Spencer Parr is a litigation and trial attorney at Washington Law Center focused primarily in the areas of Labor & Industries claims and injury pension benefits. Before co-founding Washington Law Center, Spencer served in the U.S. Army. He has litigated major issues in the law, represented clients from coast to coast, and dedicated his professional life to assisting the injured and disabled. Click here to learn more about Spencer.