David N. Damick
JUSTICE FOR CHILD SEX ABUSE VICTIMS
The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022 has become law. This Act eliminates the statute of limitations for federal civil claims filed by those who were sexually abused as minors. It covers federal lawsuits involving minors who went through human trafficking, child pornography, sexual abuse, or forced labor. Although a significant percentage of childhood sexual abuse goes unreported, hopefully the signing of the bill is a huge step forward for survivors.
In the past, minors who survived childhood sexual abuse could file federal civil claims until they arrived at age 28 or 10 years after they discovered a violation or injury. Criminal claims of childhood sexual abuse were not subject to a federal statute of limitations. And now the federal time restraints are removed for survivors of forced labor, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation of children.
Some, but not all, states have passed their own complex laws extending or getting rid of statutes of limitation for childhood sex abuse civil claims under state law. These actions recognize that it often takes years for survivors to process their trauma and tell their story. Survivors often don’t disclose their abuse until they are much older than what civil statutes of limitations allow. Research shows that often the trauma causes them to hide their experience until they are in their fifties.
While many organizations worked for this change, and we applaud the new Act, unfortunately the law is not retroactive, victims will be helped going forward but unfortunately, those whose claims were barred by the prior statute of limitations will not be able to pursue their claims.