Legal Question in Criminal Law in Massachusetts

I have a question I hope you can help me with. I am currently unemployed and can not afford to go to a lawyer right now. I just need to know what my rights are at the moment.

I have a 17 year old daughter who I have suspected for years, has been sexually abused as a child. She has had problems with memory loss and is trying to work through that now. In the event that she realizes she may have been sexually abused, do I, as her Mother, have the right to file charges against the abuser? Or, because she is 17 now, would the charges have to be filed by her? I'm worried she may not go further with this, because the possible abuser may be her Father. I had become aware of the possible abuse after stating my concerns about my daughters behavoir to a friend, who in turn had found out from her own daughter, that my ex husband had sexually abused her.

What, if anything, can I do?

Asked on 3/18/11, 9:21 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Alan Pransky Law Office of Alan J. Pransky
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I assume that by charges you mean criminal charges. These are not brought by citizens, they are brought by the state. If you believe that a crime was committed, you should contact the police. Even if the crime occurred years ago, you should still contact the police. As your daughter is 17 it would not be worth the effort to bring an action in probate court to change visitation orders. At 18, she is an adult and makes her own decisions for visitation. I assume that at 17 she is controlling visitation anyway. As for suing civilly, it probably would be best if both mother and daughter filed a lawsuit together if it appropriate to sue in civil court for damages.

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3/18/11, 10:02 am

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