Biden signs Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act
President Biden has signed a bill that eliminates the statute of limitations for people who were sexually abused as minors to file civil claims.
S.3103, The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, is a bipartisan bill first introduced in the Senate by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “The science of trauma is clear: it often takes years for victims to come forward,” Durbin said in a statement. “By signing this legislation into law, we can finally help survivors have their day in court and a moment of healing—when they are ready.”
“The statute of limitations for sexual abuse offenses should never prohibit young survivors from getting the justice they deserve. The bipartisan effort to eliminate the civil child sexual abuse statute of limitations is a critical step to guarantee survivors their day in court,” Blackburn said.
Full text of the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act here.
What does this mean for victims?
- A statute of limitations (SOL) is a law that sets the maximum time period after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated.
- The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act allows survivors of child sex abuse to seek justice under federal statute without being barred by statutes of limitations.
- Previously, federal laws set the statute of limitation for child sexual abuse claims until the victim reaches the age of 28 or until 10 years from the discovery of the violation.
- The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act covers sexual abuse, trafficking, exploitation, child sexual abuse material (child pornography), forced labor.
- The bill is not retroactive. It means that from the day the bill was signed (09/16/2022) any child victim of sexual abuse and exploitation has no time limit to come forward and pursue civil justice under federal law.
- Anyone that is within their SOL (e.g. someone nearing their 28th birthday) now essentially has no SOL. However, there are benefits to taking action sooner rather than later if you feel able.
Why is this needed?
Childhood abuse affects people across socioeconomic, educational, religious, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds. However, we commonly see that the context in which it occurs can affect the victim’s ability or willingness to pursue legal action quickly because:
- Victims are often too young to be able to identify and express what is happening let alone seek out help in the immediate aftermath
- In the majority of cases, the perpetrator is a known, ‘trustworthy’ adult, and the potential implications to the child of making an accusation against them are hugely discouraging
- Individuals or institutions (schools, religious hierarchies, police departments) may dismiss, ignore, or hide the abuse
- The shame, that perpetrators and/or institutions project on to a victim, is paralyzing
Abuse comes in many shapes and sizes, and that the lifelong impacts are wide-ranging and far-reaching, from PTSD, to depression, to substance abuse. It may take years for a victim to realize that what happened was abuse, and feel able to explore pursuing accountability. Victims should not face the additional hurdle of a ticking clock.
Helping victims take their power back is what we do
Abusers should pay for what they did and so should any institutions protecting or enabling them. Our dedicated team have sued doctors, parents, clients’ family members, teachers, and schools for abuse. We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients and put them back in the driving seat.
More exciting progress: The Adult Survivors Act – for New York adult survivors of assault or abuse
The New York Adult Survivors Act, is a new NY law that has created a one year “look-back window” (beginning in November 2022) for victims of sexual assault who are 18 years or older to file a lawsuit against their offender, no matter when the assault occurred. Read more about the ASA and what it covers here. To find out if you might be able to pursue legal action under the Adult Survivors Act, contact us here or on 646-666-8908 and we’ll get back to you within one business day.
- What does the New York Adult Survivors Act cover?
- Victims of Child Sexual Abuse Material May be Able to Recover Money
- Does it make sense for me to sue?
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Want to explore your options?
Contact us here or on 646-666-8908 and we’ll get back to you within one business day.
Remember: reaching out does not = a commitment to sue!