Child Sex Assault Statute of Limitations Provides Justice for Adults

While witness testimony in the Jerry Sandusky trial and the ongoing developments in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal highlight the tragic consequences sexual abuse in childhood can have on adult victims, these cases also emphasize that justice can still be served years after abuse occurs. In Connecticut, childhood sexual abuse victims can seek civil damages for the abuse they suffered through the state's generous statute of limitations on these kinds of suits.

How the Statute of Limitations for Civil Suits Works

Section 52-577d of the Connecticut State Statutes places a statute of limitations on the amount of time victims of child sexual abuse have to file a civil suit against their attacker or the organizations that allowed abuse to occur.

Victims have 30 years from the time they turn 18-the "age of majority"-to file a civil suit seeking damages for the emotional distress caused by the sexual abuse, exploitation or assault they suffered as children. Victims can hold responsible both their attackers and the organizations such as day care centers, churches or foster care systems that allowed the abuse to occur.

Additionally, the statute of limitations applies retroactively, meaning that victims who suffered abuse before the statute was enacted can still seek damages if they act within the 30-year timeframe.

Why the Statute of Limitations is Important

For victims of childhood sexual assault, the generous statute of limitations on civil suits provides a crucial way to gain appropriate compensation for the actions committed against them. Often, child victims will repress memories of abuse as a way to cope with pain and fear, only to remember events later in life as adults. The 30-year timeframe for filing civil suits takes this coping mechanism into account.

How to Recognize a Child Sexual Assault Victim

The Connecticut Judicial Branch's Office of Victim Services publishes a pamphlet outlining the signs child victims of sexual assault exhibit. Sudden changes in behavior, fear of going to bed, withdrawal from social interactions, depression and anger may all indicate that sexual abuse is occurring. Some children may be recognizably upset after abuse has occurred; others show little or no reaction. If an adult suspects a child has been sexually abused, he or she should seek the help of law enforcement or a sexual assault counselor.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse and would like to exercise your right to compensation, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal options.