Tag: statute of limitations sexual abuse

Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Horowitz Law

The Statute of Limitations For Sexual Abuse Reform Movement Marches On!

It’s official. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has signed House Bill 492, removing the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims. It’s now the law of the land in Louisiana.

This means that those who were sexually victimized as children in that state – at any time, by anyone, can take an important step to help the wounded heal and help the vulnerable be safer, as they can now file a civil lawsuit. As defendants, they can also name both wrongdoers who perpetrate the abuse AND wrongdoers who enabled it; those who commit AND or concealed these awful crimes.

But that’s only part of the good news regarding archaic, arbitrary, and predator-friendly statute of limitations these days. More and more, our society and courts are expanding victims’ rights to expose predators and win compensation. Read on!

New York City has just enacted a civil window for those sexually abused or assaulted AS ADULTS! Those abused as adults also have expanded opportunities for justice in New Jersey.

Last year, Maine and the North Mariana Islands (a US territory in the western Pacific) became the latest jurisdictions to adopt a permanent revival statute of limitations for child sex crimes. (Vermont did as well in 2019.) Perhaps the first time, federal legislation has been introduced, giving states greater incentive to update and expand their child sex abuse laws. (Specifically, the measure would make states eligible for additional funding if they have ended the statute of limitations in sexual abuse for both civil and criminal cases.)

At the same time, fewer and fewer jurisdictions are upholding or honoring long-standing roadblocks that stand between survivors and justice. Only three states (Utah, Wisconsin, and Missouri) make it harder for abuse survivors to sue because they let churches hide behind the First Amendment (claiming that any abuse lawsuit inevitably interferes with their ‘freedom of religion’). TAKE NOTE: This doesn’t mean you have no hope for justice if you were victimized in these three states. It just means that your legal road is more challenging.

Only eight states still have some form of “charitable immunity,” another obstacle that makes legal action more difficult (though not impossible) for survivors. The Louisiana law merits some explanation. “Over the past year, the Catholic Church has repeatedly argued in Louisiana courts that some of the claims being brought under the lookback window are not valid,” according to one news outlet. Church officials argue that “the window only applies to abuse that has happened since 1993 because the language of the law references an older statute regarding child abuse that wasn’t enacted until 1993.” 

In other words, despite clear legislative intent to help survivors that were shut out of the legal process, the church hierarchy seized on a minor legal technicality to try and evade their duty to help survivors. Several Louisiana judges have ruled in different ways on this argument. That necessitated a second legislative vote that clarified the window. So, in the end, justice prevailed. But only after yet another fight initiated by Catholic bishops.

But now is the time to focus on – and circulate – the good news. Though it’s long overdue, policy-makers across the US are slowly showing greater sensitivity to the suffering and less deference to the powerful, at least in child sex abuse that happens in large institutions. So please spread the word: Though it’s almost always hard for survivors to speak up and seek justice, lawmakers and judges continue to make the journey forward less intimidating and difficult for those who do manage to reach out for help and take action.

We have reached a tipping point in society where sexual assault and abuse victims have become empowered in record numbers to share their stories, speak out, and hold perpetrators and others responsible for acts of sexual misconduct.  We have seen this trend emerge in many industries and institutions.  From the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts, Hollywood moguls, celebrities, and powerful politicians, we have witnessed sexual misconduct exposed amid the collective strength of victims who refused to be silenced. Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual assault lawsuits on behalf of clients who have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery. Please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz for massage clients at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Maine sexual abuse Horowitz Law

Maine Opens Courts to All Survivors of Sexual Abuse

New Maine Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Gives Survivors of Abuse More Legal Options

On June 21, 2021, the State of Maine became the latest in the wave of states to pass an extension to the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases. In a landmark move, it opened a permanent revival window – meaning that civil lawsuits arising from child sexual abuse can be brought anytime, no matter when the abuse occurred.

Previously, only abuse perpetrated after 1987 could be prosecuted in Maine’s civil courts.  This new law does away with the arbitrary deadline. 

Rep. Lori Gramlich, a Democrat from Old Orchard Beach and a longtime social worker, sponsored L.D. 589. In her public testimony on the bill, she disclosed that she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and said that she saw this bill as an opportunity to give others a chance to be heard.

“For me, it’s not about suing somebody for big bunches of money,” Gramlich said. “It’s about having an opportunity to have justice.”

“We commend Maine lawmakers for recognizing that sexual abuse causes shame, embarrassment, fear, and guilt that many survivors carry well into their adulthood – and that keeps them suffering in silence for decades,” Adam Horowitz, the managing partner of Horowitz Law says of the new law.  “We are seeing a wave of new legislation across America as more and more survivors come forward to demand access to courts to hold those responsible for their nightmare accountable. We can add Maine to the list of states that are getting it right.”

The new law takes effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns its current special session.

The lawyers of Horowitz Law have represented victims and survivors of sexual abuse for more than 20 years.  If you were sexually abused in Maine, contact us now to discuss your legal options. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in Maine.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused as a child in Maine, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those sexually abused in Maine now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Maine and nationwide.  We can help. 

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.

More Statute of Limitations Reforms in the Works

We recently wrote about the fact that more and more states, including those in the Midwest, are extending statutes of limitations so that more perpetrators are exposed in court, more kids are protected and more victims get justice.

And within hours of that post, more good news emerged.

George and Indiana are joining CA, VT, NJ, NY and other states in finally updating and improving their child sex abuse statutes.

https://www.11alive.com/article/news/politics/rape-statute-of-limitations/85-43886013-3030-4e6d-a51b-838d4c6dea53

https://www.tribstar.com/opinion/editorials/tribune-star-editorial-more-power-to-abuse-victims/article_14efb5d6-3d55-11ea-8d3d-bb2f9e20b703.html

We don’t mean to harp on this. But we want to stress a simple but crucial point: No single piece of legislation can prevent abuse as quickly as civil statute of limitations reform.

Why?

Because it enables those most motivated to safeguard kids to act: victims themselves.

Because it prods employers to move quickly to oust known or suspected molesters (otherwise, they risk seeming or being negligent – or worse – and hit with expensive verdicts or settlements

Because it means that within weeks of passage, victims can file suits that alert citizens to potential threats to innocent kids or vulnerable adults.

But the beauty of reforming the civil statutes of limitations goes way beyond just speed.

In criminal prosecution, usually those who commit the offenses are exposed and punished.

In civil cases, however, both those who commit AND those who conceal the offenses are usually exposed and punished.

In criminal prosecution, the bar is very high (“beyond a reasonable doubt”).

In civil cases, however, the bar is more reasonable (“preponderance of the evidence”).

In criminal cases, victims must prod police who must find and prod witnesses and evidence and then prod prosecutors to act.

In civil cases, however, victims themselves can take action, without relying on overworked and underfunded public servants to help them.

In criminal cases, the wrongdoer usually pleads guilty and little or no evidence is made public.

In civil cases, though, no matter what the outcome is, often evidence IS made public. That evidence (whether documents or depositions) often warning those at risk of more abuse and educating the public at large about abuse and cover ups AND causing supervisors and co-workers to ponder how they might be more vigilant about reporting suspicions of sexual exploitation (and thus avoid ever being dragged into court as a witness or defendant in a rape or abuse case).

So cheers to every elected official who is sponsoring or backing these critical measures, especially Indiana State Senators Erin Houchin and Michael Crider and Georgia State Senator Harold Jones. Their bills involve criminal reforms but we hope they’ll also back civil reforms.

Why not call or email your own state senator or state representative today, and urge him or her to side with kids over predators and push for similar legislation in your state?

statute of limitations sexual abuse

Movement to Rid Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Cases Goes Beyond East and West Coast States

It’s not just victims of sexual violence on the east and west coasts who have more opportunities than ever to expose predators, stop abuse and seek justice.  The movement to help abuse survivors take action is spreading to the rest of the country too.

Lawmakers in  and other Midwestern states are following the lead of California, New York, Vermont and New Jersey who have already opened the courthouse doors to victims of sexual violence by reforming the archaic statutes of limitations.

In the wake of the #MeToo and the #ChurchToo efforts, and the continuing scandals in Boy Scouts and the Catholic church, more and more legislators are ‘seeing the light.’ They’re realizing what therapists and academics and doctors began realizing long ago: Very, very few kids have the emotional maturity, personal insight and incredible strength it takes to speak up promptly to law enforcement when it feels like they’re being mistreated.

This is especially when the predator is known and trusted by the child (as is true in most cases) and the predator acts gently and pretends the abuse is ‘love’ or ‘sex education’ or otherwise confuses the child (which is true in many cases).

Think of it this way: How often do you hear or read about an 11 year old girl who rides downtown on her bike after school and finds her way to the police headquarters and its sex crimes unit and reports that her coach has been touching her in a way that feels uncomfortable? How often does a nine year old boy call the state attorney general’s office saying “My Methodist choir director wants me to touch his private parts?”

Sadly, it takes decades for abuse victims to realize all of this: “That wasn’t affection, he hurt me,” and “The hurt was severe” and “I’m still suffering, years later” and “He probably hasn’t stopped” and “His abuse is probably what drove me to self-medicate and sabotage myself all those years” and “I’m much stronger now” and “I MAY have legal rights” and “I should, to protect others, call the law” and “Even though the police and prosecutors says it’s too late for me to act, maybe I could file a civil lawsuit and expose him and he’ll get fired from that day care center.”

Each of these is a huge hurdle. And each takes a long time to overcome. That’s why short statutes of limitations are so hurtful: By the time victims are able to head toward the courthouse, the doors have already been locked and they’re told “Sorry, you blew your chance.”

In Missouri, statute of limitations reform is particularly crucial. Here’s why.

–The largest Catholic jurisdiction in the state, the St. Louis archdiocese, admits having gotten abuse allegations against 115 individuals.

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2014/01_02/2014_01_15_Garrison_Withor.htm

Yet publicly, they’ve identified only 64 ’credibly accused’ child molesting clerics.

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/diocesan_lists/St_Louis/2019_07_26_St_Louis_Review_Shining_Light.pdf

–Back in 1997, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a ruling that makes suing those who commit or conceal abuse very difficult. (It’s called Gibson v. Brewer.) So for decades, victims in Missouri have had an even tougher time seeking justice than victims elsewhere.

(At the time, the Kansas City Star wrote: “The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that people can sue churches for alleged sexual abuse by clergy, but only under narrow guidelines.”)

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/1997_08_20_Lambe_DecisionRestricts_Thomas_Ward_4.htm

–Last year, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt forwarded names of 12 Missouri clerics he believes can be prosecuted. (None, however, have been yet.)

https://www.snapnetwork.org/editorial_missouris_stilted_probe_of_clergy_abuse_must_not_be_the_last_word_on_the_issue

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2019/01_02/2019_01_22_Clohessy_EricSchmitt.htm

–The Kansas City diocese reports 24 credibly accused abusive clerics. But BishopAccountability.org says it has 30 such individuals.

https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article234792262.html

–The KC diocese is the only place in the US where a prelate (Bishop Robert Finn) was convicted of refusing to report a now-notorious predator (Shawn Ratigan) to law enforcement.

So in Missouri, as in most states, many proven, admitted and credibly accused clerics are still ‘under the radar.’ For the safety of kids, we at Horowitz Law hope lawmakers in Missouri, and elsewhere, succeed in letting more victims expose more predators and make kids safer in the process.