Sexual Assault on a Child Law and Legal Definition

Sexual assault of a child occurs when a person who is older or bigger than the child, such as an adult or an older child, uses their power or authority over the child or takes advantage of the child’s trust to involve them in sexual activity. In short it involves situations where an adult or another child threatens, forces or manipulates a child into sexual activity. Most of the times the offender need not use physical force. Instead they take advantage of their own position of trust and authority. Definitions of offences are primarily governed by state criminal laws, which vary by state. It is generally a felony.

Example of some state statutes on Sexual Assault on a Child.

In Colorado sexual assault on a child occurs when a person knowingly subjects another who is not his or her spouse to any sexual contact provided the victim is less than fifteen years of age and the actor is at least four years older than the victim. This is a Class 4 felony. However if the actor applies force or threatens imminent death, serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or kidnapping against the victim or another person, or if the actor threatens retaliation by causing in the future the death or serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or kidnapping against the victim or another person such that the victim believes that the actor has the present ability to execute the threat or if the actor commits the offense as a part of a pattern of sexual abuse it is a class 3 felony.

In Colorado Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust is a distinct offence. A person in position of trust includes but is not limited to, any person who is a parent or acting in the place of a parent and charged with any of a parent's rights, duties, or responsibilities concerning a child. It includes a guardian or someone otherwise responsible for the general supervision of a child's welfare, or a person who is charged with any duty or responsibility for the health, education, welfare, or supervision of a child, including foster care, child care, family care, or institutional care, either independently or through another, no matter how brief, at the time of an unlawful act.[ C.R.S. 18-3-401]

A person on position of trust commits sexual assault on a child when the actor knowingly subjects another not his or her spouse to any sexual contact provided victim is a child less than eighteen years of age and the actor committing the offense is in a position of trust with respect to the victim. If the victim is less than 15 years of age and the actor commits the offense as a part of a pattern of sexual abuse it amounts to class 3 felony. If the victim is fifteen years of age or older but less than eighteen years of age and the offense is not committed as part of a pattern of sexual abuse, then it is a class 4 felony.

The relevant law as it appears in the statute

C.R.S. 18-3-405. Sexual assault on a child

(1) Any actor who knowingly subjects another not his or her spouse to any sexual contact commits sexual assault on a child if the victim is less than fifteen years of age and the actor is at least four years older than the victim.

(2) Sexual assault on a child is a class 4 felony, but it is a class 3 felony if:

(a) The actor applies force against the victim in order to accomplish or facilitate sexual contact; or

(b) The actor, in order to accomplish or facilitate sexual contact, threatens imminent death, serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or kidnapping against the victim or another person, and the victim believes that the actor has the present ability to execute the threat; or

(c) The actor, in order to accomplish or facilitate sexual contact, threatens retaliation by causing in the future the death or serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or kidnapping against the victim or another person, and the victim believes that the actor will execute the threat; or

(d) The actor commits the offense as a part of a pattern of sexual abuse as described in subsection (1) of this section. No specific date or time must be alleged for the pattern of sexual abuse; except that the acts constituting the pattern of sexual abuse, whether charged in the information or indictment or committed prior to or at any time after the offense charged in the information or indictment, shall be subject to the provisions of section 16-5-401 (1) (a), C.R.S., concerning sex offenses against children. The offense charged in the information or indictment shall constitute one of the incidents of sexual contact involving a child necessary to form a pattern of sexual abuse as defined in section 18-3-401 (2.5).

(3) If a defendant is convicted of the class 3 felony of sexual assault on a child pursuant to paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (2) of this section, the court shall sentence the defendant in accordance with the provisions of section 18-1.3-406.

C.R.S. 18-3-405.3 Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust

(1) Any actor who knowingly subjects another not his or her spouse to any sexual contact commits sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust if the victim is a child less than eighteen years of age and the actor committing the offense is one in a position of trust with respect to the victim.

(2) Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust is a class 3 felony if:

(a) The victim is less than fifteen years of age; or

(b) The actor commits the offense as a part of a pattern of sexual abuse as described in subsection (1) of this section. No specific date or time need be alleged for the pattern of sexual abuse; except that the acts constituting the pattern of sexual abuse whether charged in the information or indictment or committed prior to or at any time after the offense charged in the information or indictment, shall be subject to the provisions of section 16-5-401 (1) (a), C.R.S., concerning sex offenses against children. The offense charged in the information or indictment shall constitute one of the incidents of sexual contact involving a child necessary to form a pattern of sexual abuse as defined in section 18-3-401 (2.5).

(3) Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust is a class 4 felony if the victim is fifteen years of age or older but less than eighteen years of age and the offense is not committed as part of a pattern of sexual abuse, as described in paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of this section.

(4) If a defendant is convicted of the class 3 felony of sexual assault on a child pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of this section, the court shall sentence the defendant in accordance with the provisions of section 18-1.3-406.

In Missouri, First Degree Sexual assault of a child refers to a person subjecting a child less than 14 years of age to sexual contact. The Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 566.067 defines 1st degree sexual assault of a child and its penalties as follows:

§ 566.067 R.S.Mo. (2009)

§ 566.067. Child molestation, first degree, penalties

1. A person commits the crime of child molestation in the first degree if he or she subjects another person who is less than fourteen years of age to sexual contact.

2. Child molestation in the first degree is a class B felony unless:

(1) The actor has previously been convicted of an offense under this chapter or in the course thereof the actor inflicts serious physical injury, displays a deadly weapon or deadly instrument in a threatening manner, or the offense is committed as part of a ritual or ceremony, in which case the crime is a class A felony; or

(2) The victim is a child less than twelve years of age and:

(a) The actor has previously been convicted of an offense under this chapter; or

(b) In the course thereof the actor inflicts serious physical injury, displays a deadly weapon or deadly instrument in a threatening manner, or if the offense is committed as part of a ritual or ceremony, in which case, the crime is a class A felony and such person shall serve his or her term of imprisonment without eligibility for probation or parole.”