New Act Removes Filing Deadlines for Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Last Updated September 26, 2022
The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act makes important changes to the filing deadlines for child sexual abuse claims. The recently passed bill makes it easier for survivors of child sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit for their case.

Child sexual abuse cases are among the most egregious types of abuse, as children are vulnerable and cannot consent to the actions forced upon them. Survivors of such cases now have expanded access to compensation from abusers due to a law recently enacted by President Joe Biden. 

The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act removes the statute of limitations (filing deadline) for federal civil lawsuits involving child sexual abuse, child sex trafficking, child pornography, and other similar crimes involving children. This is a landmark act that opens the way for justice and compensation for survivors who may have been hesitant in the past about pursuing legal action due to the filing restrictions. 

Lawsuits involving any type of sexual abuse can be complex and challenging for the survivor. If you or a loved one were harmed by abuse and have questions about your rights, contact Levin Simes Abrams at (415) 426-3000 about your case. Our San Francisco-based team has the experience necessary to guide you toward a better quality of life. 

How Will the New Law Impact Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse? 

Before the Act, survivors had only until age 28 or until 10 years after the violation or injury was discovered to sue in federal court for child sexual abuse claims. This is highly significant, as one of the main issues in child sexual abuse cases is that many survivors don’t disclose their abuse until much later in life. 

In fact, researchers have found that 52 is the average age at which survivors of child sexual abuse disclose their experiences. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), child sexual abuse survivors may be hesitant to discuss the abuse that happened to them due to: 

  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or confusion
  • Reservations about intimacy in their current relationships
  • Fear of retaliation by the abuser
  • Apprehension about dealing with law enforcement and other authorities
  • Worry that their accusations will not be believed or treated seriously

Thus, what often happens is that child sexual abuse survivors may have gone throughout much of their lives without speaking about their abuse. When they finally felt ready to discuss their claims, the statute of limitations may have prevented them from seeking justice in court. 

Now, however, the new Act opens the way for survivors to pursue legal action, even if the abuse happened a long time ago.   

The changes open up additional legal options for those who may have had reservations about discussing their experiences with authorities or filing a claim about what they went through.

What Else Should I Know About the Act?

The Act was passed by the House by voice vote after passing the Senate by unanimous consent back in March. 

The new law applies only to federal statutes of limitations; states may have their own specific filing deadlines. However, federal laws may often play a central role in certain types of cases, such as child or teenage sex trafficking cases that involve inter-state issues. 

No federal statute of limitations was previously in place for criminal claims regarding child sex abuse, so criminal cases are not affected by the Act.

This new development in sexual assault law represents major progress for the rights of those who have been affected by abuse during their early years. The changes open up additional legal options for those who may have had reservations about discussing their experiences with authorities or filing a claim about what they went through.  

Should I Contact a Lawyer for Help With a Case? 

Child sexual abuse is an extremely pervasive issue in our communities — it is estimated that an incident occurs every 9 minutes, and is often perpetrated by someone the survivors knows or is close to. It can sometimes take years for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to come forward, but this new law can help accommodate those seeking legal recourse.

Raising awareness of these violations can help reveal further instances of abuse. The more people are made aware of this problem, the more can be done to prevent them from occurring.  

If you or a loved one have been affected in any way by child sexual abuse, you may be entitled to legal recourse for what you have been through. Contact our team at Levin Simes Abrams at (415) 426-3000 to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options in a completely safe and confidential setting. Our attorneys have deep experience in assisting survivors of abuse and helping them obtain justice through the court system. 

Levin Simes Abrams