of whom note that they frequently observed adult male visitors entering and exiting the home.
During a visit to the home, the GAL notes that the front door has no doorknob. Furthermore,
although Michelle’s mother vocalizes concern about her daughter’s recent arrest for prostitution,
she does not think Michelle’s sexually provocative wardrobe is problematic, and in fact will often
pay for Michelle to maintain long nail extensions and other adult fashions. On several occasions,
the mother has lied to the GAL about Michelle’s whereabouts, during times that Michelle should
have been at school or at home for her court-ordered curfew. In this situation, the GAL may have
reason to believe that a child welfare investigation into the home may be more appropriate than
an ongoing status offender case, the latter of which places responsibility on the child rather than
the caregiver. In such circumstances, the GAL should make the appropriate referral to local child
welfare services, request that the juvenile charges be dismissed, or motion the court accordingly,
pursuant to the general practice of the jurisdiction.
Alternatively, informal advocacy may also achieve the goal of transferring the case to an
appropriate venue. Although CSEC is still a relatively new issue for many frontline, direct
service workers, it is often possible to find at least one person within a public agency or child-serving organization to act as a CSEC-informed ally. In Michelle’s case, for example, the GAL
might try to identify the most informed person on this issue within the local prosecutor’s office,
and request that he or she work to internally educate and instruct colleagues as to the
appropriateness of dismissing the solicitation charges in favor of a child welfare case.
In addition to monitoring the case in which they are appointed, GALs should assist with
identifying any colorable legal claims to which the client may be entitled, such as civil damages
from the perpetrator57 or immigration relief (e.g., Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, T-Visa,
Continued Presence status).58 In Washington, D.C., for example, ethics guidelines make clear
that a GAL who has identified potential claims, while not responsible for personally initiating
them, “has an obligation at least to assure that colorable claims for compensation do not simply
drift away because no one else is aware of them.”59 Thus, at a minimum, attorneys working with
youth who are CSEC-vulnerable, CSEC-involved, or CSEC survivors, should familiarize
themselves with these commonly associated legal claims and stand ready to provide advice and
referral as needed.
In situations where a perpetrator is criminally prosecuted, GALs should attempt to protect
their clients when their clients are called as witnesses. The act of testifying is particularly
sensitive for the CSEC child, as a previously exploited youth may be re-traumatized through the
experience of testifying.60 “The whole process of a criminal investigation and trial may cause
secondary victimization, because of difficulties in balancing the rights of the victim against the
rights of the accused or the offender, or even because the needs and perspective of the victim is
entirely ignored.”61 A GAL can and should advocate for appropriate out-of-court testimony
57 Pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, trafficking victims may sue their perpetrators for punitive, compensatory, and
pecuniary damages, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, 22 U.S.C.A. § 1595(a) (West
2014); Kathleen Kim & Kusia Hreshchyshyn, Human Trafficking Private Right of Action: Civil Rights for Trafficked Persons in the
United States, 16 HASTINGS WOMEN’S L.J. 1, 16 (2004).
58 See Human Trafficking Resources, U.S. COMMITTEE FOR REFUGEES & IMMIGRANTS, http://www.refugees.org/resources/for-lawyers/human-trafficking-resources/ human-trafficking-resource.html (last visited Feb. 8, 2014) (providing a further explanation of
these and other immigration claims available to trafficking victims).
59 D.C. BAR LEGAL ETHICS COMM., OPINION 252: OBLIGATIONS OF A LAWYER APPOINTED GUARDIAN AD LITEM IN A CHILD ABUSE
AND NEGLECT PROCEEDING WITH RESPECT TO POTENTIAL TORT CLAIMS OF THE CHILD (1994), available at
60 Gail S. Goodman et al., Testifying in Criminal Court: Emotional Effects on Child Sexual Assault Victims, MONOGRAPHS SOC’Y FOR
RES. CHILD DEV., July 1992, at 1, 7-8.