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As awareness of the traumatic depth of childhood sexual abuse, many states have adopted or are actively considering reform of restrictive statutes of limitations so that adults who were sexually victimized as children are able to seek justice in the courts.

As of February 1, 2022, Arkansas opened a 2 year revival window for expired claims against perpetrators, private organizations and government.  While some aspects of this law will remain permanent, there are parts that are temporary and allow a limited time for legal action. The two-year revival window for filing sexual abuse claims is only open between February 1, 2022 and January 31, 2024.  There are two primary benefits that this law provides: an extended statute of limitations and a two-year revival window. While the amendments to the Arkansas statute of limitations for taking civil action after sexual abuse will remain in effect, the revival window will close at the end of two years.

Under prior Arkansas law, a childhood sexual abuse victim had only until their 21st birthday, or three years from discovering an emotional or physical injury was the result of abuse, to take legal action. The new law extends the age cap from 21 to 55. Under the provisions of SB676, victims aged 21 as of July 31, 2021, and any future abuse victims, will have until they are 55 years old (or 3 years from discovery, whichever date is later) to take legal action against an abuser.  Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, regardless of when the abuse occurred, can file a civil claim during the two-year revival window. This window begins February 1, 2022 and ends January 31, 2024. During this time period, any adult survivor can choose to take civil action against the individual abuser or responsible institution, even if their claim was expired under the prior state law.

In 2019, Vermont permanently lifted the statute of limitations on all expired claims against perpetrators, private organizations and government.  Maine has passed similar legislation.

In Louisiana, a deeply Catholic state, Governor John Bel Edwards signed legislation removing deadlines for Louisiana’s child sex abuse victims to pursue damages in civil court, delivering a victory to survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy.

The new law, taking effect August 1, 2021 will create a three-year window where all unresolved child molestation claims can be pursued in civil court, according to The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. Until now, child sex abuse victims had until their 28th birthday to initiate litigation over their abuse.

While many of these 24 states’ revival legislation has expired, there remains a strong sentiment toward further SOL reform so that all abuse survivors, regardless of when the abuse occurred, may seek civil justice against their perpetrators and the institutions that protected them.

I have been fighting for the rights of child sex abuse survivors for two decades now and have represented courageous survivors in nearly every state in the country.  I will continue this fight until every survivor is able to seek justice in the courts.

Were You Sexually Abused by a Clergy Member?

 

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