Child sexual abuse is an ongoing national tragedy occurring behind closed doors all around us. Sadly, many cases go unreported, which means child sexual abusers are still out there continuing to pose a continual threat to children. What should you expect when reporting child abuse? Texas has a mandatory reporting law requiring anyone with knowledge of child abuse to report it to the appropriate authorities. It is not a reporting situation restricted to healthcare providers or teachers but literally applies to all.  

Reports of child sexual abuse are confidential and immune from criminal and civil liability if the report is made in good faith or without malice.  

Learn more about how to file a sexual abuse report in Texas from the experienced Dallas sexual abuse victim lawyers at Crowe, Arnold & Majors LLP. If you are ready to hold you or your children’s abusers accountable for their actions, we can help you file a personal injury lawsuit against them. 

We’ll Be Your Voice and Stop the Abuse
Click below for a FREE case review and consultation.
No Fees Unless We Win!

The Texas Abuse Hotline 

The Texas Abuse Hotline, overseen by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), is available for reporting situations that do not need immediate investigation. Expect the DFPS to take up to 48 hours to process reports. If the situation is an emergency, call the Texas Abuse Hotline (1-800-252-5400) or dial 911 or your local law enforcement agency. 

However, anonymous reporting is not permitted via the Texas Abuse Hotline. By law, anyone making a report must provide a personal first and last name as well as a home or business phone number. If you want to make an anonymous child sexual abuse report, notify local and state law enforcement agencies. 

What Happens After Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

Child Protective Services (CPS), a division of the DFPS, conducts civil investigations of alleged abuse, focusing on the child’s welfare. In 2021, CPS confirmed 7,645 allegations of child sexual abuse, along with 36 allegations of sex trafficking.  

CPS first assesses whether the allegations are substantiated. Without solid information, the investigation cannot go forward. Nationwide, roughly 45 percent of child sexual abuse reports fall into the insufficient information category. If the assessment shows the allegations are substantiated, CPS investigates within 24 hours and intervenes to protect the child if they are in “immediate” danger. If it is determined the child is not in immediate peril, the investigation continues.  

The continuing investigation involves interviewing family members and others sharing the household. The child is examined by a medical professional for physical and emotional signs of sexual abuse. Expect that if you report the child sex abuse claim CPS will interview you.  

If the investigation produces evidence of sexual abuse, the CPS creates a service plan. Rather than remove the child from the home, CPS works to remove the abuser. The perpetrator may face criminal charges. In some situations, CPS puts the child into foster care.  

Law enforcement agencies conduct criminal investigations to determine who is responsible for the crime. If the investigation points toward a known child molester, under Texas law prosecutors can introduce evidence of the defendant’s crimes against other children.

Gather Evidence 

Whether you report child sexual abuse to local law enforcement or to DFPS, you must provide as much evidence as possible for investigators. Your report must detail the who, what, where, when, and how of your claim, to the best of your knowledge. Report the child’s age or approximate age. Provide a description of the abuser and any identifying information, such as their residence, place of employment, or license plate number.  

When reporting child sexual abuse that occurred years earlier, gathering evidence becomes more difficult. Your attorney can assist you in collecting relevant evidence, such as medical reports.  

Since child sexual abusers seldom have substantial assets, your lawyer focuses on schools, sports leagues, religious institutions, camps, and similar organizations that may have failed to protect the children for whom they were responsible from sexual abuse.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit

The length of time to file a report depends upon the nature of the crime. In most Texas personal injury cases, the victim has just two years from the time of the incident to file a civil lawsuit. However, due to the especially sensitive nature of child sexual assault in Texas, child sexual abuse victims have 30 years in which to file a civil lawsuit. The clock starts ticking as of the claimant’s 18th birthday, so all lawsuits require filing by the time the victim is 48.  

Because it is critical to gather evidence before it vanishes or before eyewitnesses become hard to find, seek legal counsel as soon as possible.   

Keep in mind that a civil lawsuit differs from a criminal case. Civil cases are based on the preponderance of the evidence, while the standard of proof in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Even if a defendant is acquitted or never charged in a criminal child sexual abuse case, it is still possible to file a civil lawsuit.

Contact a Dallas Sexual Abuse Attorney

If you or your child were a victim of child sexual abuse, you need the services of a compassionate attorney for sexual assault victims at Crowe, Arnold & Majors LLP. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.  We will discuss your rights and options. Because we work on a contingency basis, you pay no fee unless you receive compensation.