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Colorado Child Sexual Assault Statistics

Colorado sexual assault crimes against children reflect national rates. The state’s 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey Report surveyed 46,537 students from 199 schools and found that 10.1% of female students and 3.4% of male students have been forced to have sex when they did not want to. 

Additionally, 4% of all students also reported they were victims of unwanted touching, pinching, grabbing, or other wanted sexual contact. 9.5% of students also reported that they were or had been in physical dating relationships where there was violence. Falling in line with the latest research, physical violence in a teenage relationship can be a predictor of future sexual violence. 

Colorado Child Sexual Assault Laws 

Colorado law recognizes the gravity of sexual assaults against children. As such, the state has strict laws against child sexual assault as outlined in the CO Code § 18-3-402

Under the law, a sexual assault has occurred if an actor knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or sexual penetration in the following manner: 

  1. The actor forces a victim into a sexual act by threatening violence against them.
  2. A victim is incapable of understanding the circumstances, and an actor takes advantage of this to engage in sexual assault or sexual abuse.
  3. At the time of the sexual assault or abuse, the victim is less than fifteen years of age, and the actor is at least four years older than the victim.
  4. At the time of the sexual assault or abuse, the victim is at least fifteen years of age but less than seventeen years of age, and the actor is at least ten years older than the victim.
  5. A victim is abused by an authority figure while being detained by law enforcement, a hospital, or another institution.
  6. When a victim is subjected to abuse from a medical provider who knowingly inflicts unnecessary medical treatment for their own sexual gratification.
  7. When a victim is physically or mentally incapable, impaired, or helpless and does not consent to sexual acts with the perpetrator.

Colorado Age of Consent

The age of consent in Colorado is 17. Colorado does not criminalize consensual sex between two parties who are 17 or older. 

Close-in Age Exceptions 

Colorado also recognizes close-in-age exemptions. Under this exemption, the law allows individuals who are 15 and 16 years old to lawfully engage in sexual conduct with partners who are less than 10 years older than them. Additionally, it is lawful for minors who are younger than 15 to engage in consensual sexual acts with partners who are less than four years older than them. 

Marriage Exception

There’s also the marriage exception which offers a spousal exemption from statutory rape sexual assault charges if both individuals are married. While the legal age of marriage is 18, individuals who are 16 and 17 years old can get married with parental consent or with judicial approval. 

Criminal Penalties for Child Sexual Assault in Colorado 

If sexual abuse or sexual assault against a child has occurred, the state will levy criminal penalties. Penalties range and depend on the type of criminal charge an abuser is facing and the circumstances of the assault. Common penalties include jail time, fines, and registration on sex offender lists. 

Colorado Statute of Limitation for Child Sex Crimes

The Colorado statute of limitations is outlined in the C.R.S. §16-5-401. Sex crimes, including those committed against children, have their own category of statute of limitations under state law.

Prosecutors generally have 20 years from the date of an alleged assault to bring forward a lawsuit as outlined by CRS 18-3-402. However, there is no statute of limitations for sexual abuse and other sex crimes against children in Colorado. 

Colorado Sex Offender Registration Requirements

If an individual has been convicted of a sex crime in Colorado, they must register as a sex offender in Colorado and can be searchable through Colorado’s Sex Offender Tracking and Registration System (“SOTAR”).

Sex offenders are required to update their information on the registry once a year, while the most serious offenders must re-register once every three months. If an individual fails to register, they face a separate felony charge, which can bring up to one and a half years in Colorado State Prison. 

Requirements for removal from the sex offender registry are as follows: 

  • Offenders who have been convicted as sexually violent predators, felony sexual assault or incest, or individuals who have at least two convictions of unlawful sexual behavior can never petition to get off the registry.
  • Other Class 1, 2, and 3 felonies must wait 20 years to petition removal from the registry.
  • Other Class 4, 5, and 6 felonies, or Class 1 misdemeanor sexual assault or sexual contact, must wait 10 years before they can petition for removal.
  • For other misdemeanors, they must wait five years for a petition of removal.
  • Individuals who fail to register must wait one year in addition to their required years before they can petition for removal.

What to Expect in a Criminal Sexual Assault Case

All sex crime cases are unique, and as such, all cases may unfold in different ways. However, there are certain things you can expect if you are pursuing a sexual assault lawsuit against an abuser. 

Criminal Charges

If an individual is suspected to have engaged in child sexual assault, a prosecutor can bring forward criminal charges against them. The state brings these charges forward, and a victim’s willingness to press charges is generally not considered, especially in cases where a victim is a minor. 

Can I File a Civil Lawsuit Against the Perpetrator of Teen Sexual Assault?

Victims can pursue the justice they’re looking for by filing a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and other liable parties. Minors cannot file their own lawsuit; however, a parent or guardian can file a lawsuit on the child’s behalf. 

Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act

Colorado recognizes the rights of children who have been subjected to sexual abuse through the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act. Under this act, a victim can sue their abuser for damages. 

The law also allows victims to pursue legal action against private and public organizations that operate or manage programs or activities that cater to children. 

Unfortunately, sexual assault and abuse occur in facilities such as schools, churches, hospitals, youth groups, and other facilities where children are supposed to be safe. If the facility did not uphold its duty to protect a child, it can be held liable for its negligence. 

Burden of Proof 

When a victim brings forward a civil claim, the burden of proof is much lower than that in a criminal case. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the allegations against the perpetrator “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil lawsuit, a victim’s burden is “a preponderance of the evidence,” a much lower burden.  

What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Sexual Assault Civil Suit?

Victims of sexual assault have the right to recover economic and non-economic damages from liable parties that contributed to their sexual assault. These damages can include but are not limited to: 

  • Hospital bills, medical expenses, and other treatments victims require after their assault 
  • Loss of income or earned wages
  • Property damage
  • Emotional and mental anguish
  • Therapy and counseling services
  • Pain and suffering 

In some cases, a victim can also pursue punitive damage against a defendant. Punitive damages are designed to punish a responsible party for their actions that led to the sexual assault. 

At Bachus & Schanker, We Care and Are Here to Support You

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If you or a loved one has been a victim of teenage sexual assault in Denver, Colorado, call Bachus & Schanker today. Our team of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators is committed to representing individuals who have been victimized through sexual assault.

Our team will help you understand your legal rights and options and will pursue justice against your abuser and other liable parties to the fullest extent of the law. Schedule the confidential free case evaluation with our team today and get the justice you deserve. 


Colorado Legislative Council Staff.

CRS § 16-5-401

CRS § 18-3-402

Sex Offender Registry.

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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.