There is confusion about the definition of child molestation. Therefore, we are here to clear up any vagueness or uncertainties about the definition. Child molestation is a broad term referring to any type of indecent or sexual activities that goes on between an adult and a child under the age of 14. In simple terms, it is illegal for an adult to touch a child's body with "lewd and lascivious" intent regardless of whether or not the child has given their consent. Child molestation has received mass media attention over the last decade with all fifty states enacting statutes identifying child sexual abuse as a form of criminal behavior.
The Justice Department reports that there are approximately four million pedophiles in the United States; however, it's nearly impossible to assess an accurate figure because many child molesters are never caught. The Justice Department reports that one in four girls and one in seven boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before turning 18.
Child sexual abuse takes on many forms and it can include physical sexual contact with the child, touching the child's sexual organs, voyeurism, sexual dialog, prostitution, fondling, forcing the child to partake in child pornography, sexual penetration, and pressuring the child to participate in sexual activities and many more.
It is not uncommon for child abusers to entice children by offering them attention or gifts, or by using threats or force, or by manipulating them by using a combination of these tools. Surprisingly, studies have not found any major differences in the prevalence of child sexual abuse among the different classes or races. The largest common denominator in child sexual abuse cases was parental unavailability, neglect and a poor relationship between the parent and the child.
In Rhode Island, first degree child molestation refers to the sexual penetration of a child under the age of fourteen, whereas second degree child molestation is sexual contact with a child below the age of fourteen. The penalties associated with a child molestation conviction vary depending upon the type of molestation, the injury suffered, the relationship between the child and the defendant and the number of times the sexual abuse took place.
Under § 11-37-8.1 First degree child molestation sexual assault – The person is guilty of first degree child molestation sexual assault if he or she engages in penetration with a child aged fourteen (14) or younger.
With first degree child molestation, if there was no relationship with the victim, no injury and one count, the punishment is from 10 to 15 years in prison. If the defendant had a close relationship with the victim (family member), and if no injury occurred, then it is punishable by 15 to 20 years in prison.
For those who had a close relationship with the child (family member) and caused moderate injuries or multiple counts, they will be sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison.
In cases where there was physical injury, multiple counts or aggravating circumstances, the person will face 25 years to life in prison.
Under §11-37-8.3 Second degree child molestation sexual assault – A person is guilty of second degree child molestation sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual contact with a child aged fourteen (14) or younger.
In cases where there was no relationship to the victim and it was over the clothing and on one count, it is punishable by up to 3 years in prison. For no relationship to the victim, under the clothing and more than one count, the punishment is 3 to 8 years in prison.
If the defendant had a close relationship (family member) and it occurred over the clothing and one count, it's punishable by 3 to 8 years in prison. If the defendant was a family member, and if it occurred under the clothing and on one count, it's punishable by 7 to 12 years imprisonment.
While child pornography charges are a type of child sexual abuse, the production, reproduction, distribution and possession of child pornography is a separate offense and punished differently than child molestation. To learn more about child molestation charges in Rhode Island, contact a member of our legal team at the Law Offices of Robert H. Humphrey.