BY: Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller | IN: Sexual Assault, Clergy Abuse
As previously reported, a new bill in Michigan would extend the statute of limitation for sexual assault survivors– including those raped, molested, or abused by clergy members – two more years to pursue claims against predator priests.
The Access to Justice bill would create an exception to the statute of limitations for all civil sexual assault actions. Now, survivors of sexual conduct crimes, including those perpetrated by clergy members, may file a legal claim within two years of the statute’s effective date if enacted.
The two-year “revival window” applies to survivors who failed to initiate a cause of action within the limitations period and plaintiffs who filed suit but whose claims were dismissed as time-barred.
Michigan is one of many states that have either passed statute of limitations reforms or with proposed legislation pending. New York’s reform took center stage recently when writer and author E. Jean Carroll sued former President Donald Trump, claiming he raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s.
Carroll didn’t contact the police when the incident occurred and only made her allegations public in 2019. By then, both the criminal and civil statute of limitations had expired, so she could not pursue sexual misconduct claims against the disgraced president.
Typically, the New York statute of limitations for civil sexual assault is three years. In November 2022, however, the state’s legislature passed the Adult Survivors Act, creating a one-year revival window for survivors to seek compensation from their alleged attackers. Ms. Carroll took advantage of the new exception, winning a $5 million verdict against Trump in a Manhattan courtroom on May 9, 2023.
As of April 2023, 24 states have enacted “lookback window” exceptions to statutes of limitations governing sexual misconduct actions. Most recently, Maryland established a permanent window with no time limit.
View all posts byLisa Esser-Weidenfeller
Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller focuses her practice on medical malpractice, automobile negligence, and general negligence litigation on behalf injured plaintiffs.
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