As more victims get the courage to take legal action, the people who commit and enable sexual abuse are being held accountable. If you've recently become a victim, you may have questions like:
- What type of sentence will the perpetrator face?
- What if the jury doesn't convict?
- How can a civil sexual abuse lawsuit help victims?
Our Kentucky sexual abuse lawyers can help your family get the justice you deserve.
Seeing a sexual predator brought to justice is an important part of recovery for survivors of sexual crimes.
"Gave Us Hope." We were angry and distraught, but they helped us find justice.
For many victims of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and other sexual crimes, seeing their sexual offender prosecuted and convicted is a top priority. However, it’s also normal for these victims to hesitate before seeking criminal prosecution. If you’re wondering how your state’s criminal justice system prosecutes sexual crimes, you can learn more from our summaries of Kentucky’s sex crime statutes below.
Kentucky's Criminal Laws On Sexual Abuse & Assault
If you’re feeling lost and unsure what to do next after surviving a sexual crime, our Kentucky sexual abuse and sexual assault victims’ lawyers are here to help. We can help you better understand your rights under the criminal justice system, and also help you secure financial support for damages related to the crime through the civil court system.
A civil sexual abuse lawsuit offers assistance for victims in ways the criminal justice system can't, such as:
- Perpetrators can be held liable even when criminal courts don't convict
- Organizations, businesses, and other third parties can be held liable for enabling the abuse
- Victims can recover financial compensation for financial and personal damages
If you're ready to take legal action, you can learn more from us in a free consultation. From Lexington and Louisville to Owensboro and Bowling Green, our experienced attorneys are here to help Kentucky survivors of sexual abuse find their voice and stand up for justice.
In Kentucky, like most other states, it’s illegal for a person to have sexual contact with someone he or she knows to be an ancestor, descendant, uncle, aunt, brother, or sister.
If this act is committed by consenting adults, it’s a Class C felony punishable by 5-10 years in prison.
Incest is a Class B felony in cases involving forcible compulsion or a victim who is younger than 18 years of age or incapable of consent because he or she is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated. Class B felonies are punishable by 10-20 years in prison.
If the victim suffers a serious injury or is under 12 years of age, the perpetrator will be charged with a Class A felony punishable by 20-50 years in prison.
Indecent exposure is a sexual offense which involves exposing one’s genitals. In Kentucky, offenders who commit this crime may be charged in either the first or second degree, depending on circumstances:
A sexual offender will be charged with indecent exposure in the first degree if he or she intentionally exposes their genitals when the offender knows or should know that the act will cause alarm to a victim under 18 years of age. Penalties for first-degree indecent exposure will be applied based on the following circumstances:
- First offense – Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison and/or a maximum $250 fine
- Second offense – Class A misdemeanor if it was committed within three years of the first conviction, punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine up to $500
- Third offense – Class D felony if it was committed within three years of the previous conviction, punishable by 1-5 years in prison
- Subsequent offenses – Class D felony
If the victim of indecent exposure is 18 years of age or older, the perpetrator will be charged in the second degree. Second-degree indecent exposure is a Class B misdemeanor.
In Kentucky, rape is defined as any nonconsensual sexual penetration committed against one person by another, involving either the offender’s body or by a foreign object. Rapists can be charged in one of three degrees under Kentucky law:
A person is can be convicted of first-degree rape if he or she:
- Engages in sexual intercourse with someone else by forcible compulsion, or
- Engages in sexual intercourse with someone who is incapable of giving consent because they’re either physically helpless or younger than 12 years of age.
Rape in the first degree is a Class B felony, punishable by 10-20 years in prison. If the victim is younger than 12 years of age or seriously injured during the crime, the charge will be upgraded to a Class A felony punishable by 20-50 years in prison.
Someone is guilty of rape in the second degree if he or she is 18 years of age or older and has sexual intercourse with a victim who is younger than 14 years old or who is mentally incapacitated. This crime is classified as a Class C felony punishable by 5-10 years in prison.
Rape in the third degree involves sexual intercourse committed under any of the following circumstances:
- Victim is unable to consent because of an intellectual disability
- Offender is 21 years of age or older, the victim is younger than 18 years old, and the victim lives in the offender’s foster family home
- Offender is in a position of authority or a position of special trust (such as a parent, foster parent, adult youth leader, coach, teacher, etc.), the victim is younger than 18 years old, and the victim came into contact with the offender because of this position of authority or special trust.
- Offender is employed, either directly or indirectly, by the Department of Corrections and knows that the victim is incarcerated, supervised, evaluated, or treated by the Department of Corrections
Third-degree rape is classified as a Class D felony punishable by 1-5 years in prison.
Unwanted sexual contact which does not involve sexual penetration is classified as sexual abuse in Kentucky. In other states, these offenses may be considered sexual assault. Sexual abuse can be charged in one of three degrees in Kentucky:
A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the first degree if he or she subjects someone else to sexual contact in any of the following scenarios:
- Through forcible compulsion
- A victim who is incapable of consenting because they’re either physically helpless, younger than 12 years old, or mentally incapacitated
- The offender is at least 21 years old and the victim is younger than 16 years old, the offender masturbates in the victim’s presence, or the offender masturbates while the victim can see him or her through electronic means, or
- The offender is in a position of authority or special trust and subjects a victim younger than 18 years old to sexual contact or masturbates in the presence of the victim (either in person or by electronic means)
First-degree sexual abuse is a Class D felony punishable by 1-5 years in prison. If the victim is younger than 12 years old, the offense will be upgraded to a Class C felony punishable by 5-10 years in prison.
A person may be convicted of second-degree sexual abuse in the following situations:
- Subjecting someone to sexual contact who is incapable of consenting because of an intellectual disability
- The offender is between 18 and 21 years old and subjects a victim younger than 16 years old to sexual contact
- The offender works for the Department of Corrections, is at least 18 years old, and subjects an incarcerated person to sexual contact
Sexual abuse in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
Someone is guilty of sexual abuse in the third degree if he or she subjects another person to sexual contact without their consent without any of the circumstances listed in first and second-degree sexual abuse.
While Kentucky technically has an anti-sodomy law which prohibits even consensual acts of “deviate sexual intercourse” (any sex act involving the sexual organs of one person and the mouth or anus or another, or the penetration of the anus by a foreign object) between adults, this law was ruled unconstitutional in 1992. However, there are still sodomy laws which are used to prosecute sexual offenders who commit acts of sodomy without consent. These crimes are classified into three degrees:
Someone is guilty of first-degree sodomy if he or she:
- Engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person by forcible compulsion; or
- Engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent because he or she is physically helpless or younger than 12 years old.
Sodomy in the first degree is a Class B felony punishable by 10-20 years in prison, but will be upgraded to a Class A felony (20-50 years in prison) if the victim is under 12 years old or suffers a serious physical injury in the assault.
Anyone who engages in deviate sexual intercourse under the following circumstances may be considered guilty of sodomy in the second degree:
- The offender is at least 18 years old and the victim is younger than 14 years old; or
- The victim is mentally incapacitated
Second-degree sodomy is a Class C felony punishable by 5-10 years in prison.
Deviate sexual intercourse may be considered third-degree sodomy under any of the following circumstances:
- The victim has an intellectual disability
- The offender is at least 21 years old and the victim is younger than 16 years old
- The offender is at least 21 years old, the victim is younger than 18 years old, and the offender provides a foster family home for the victim
- The offender is in a position of trust and came into contact with the victim as a result of that position
- The offender is directly or indirectly employed by the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, or a detention facility and the victim is under the custody, supervision, evaluation, or treatment of one of these departments or facilities.
Sodomy in the third degree is a Class D felony punishable by 1-5 years in prison.
Unlawful Use Of Electronic Means To Induce A Minor To Engage In Sexual Or Other Prohibited Activities
Anyone who knowingly uses a communications system, such as a computer, computer network, computer bulletin board, cell phone, or any other electronic means to procure or promote the sexual exploitation of a minor for commercial gain is guilty of a Class D felony in Kentucky. This crime is punishable by 1-5 years in prison.