Changes to The Statute of Limitations For Sexual Abuse

Interviewer: It’s Quinn and Cantara, PYX 106. 1-800-LAW-1010. Paul Harding from Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti on the phone. Hey, Paul.

Paul: Hey. Good morning, guys. Good morning.

Interviewer 2: So, somebody referred to this law change as landmark legislation. And I know we’ve talked about this with you before but we wanted to go over it again. When did the statute of limitations change in this law, Paul?

Paul: Yeah. So, you know, historically, the statute of limitations, just to clarify, is sort of that time period at which you can bring a claim. And if you choose to bring a claim outside of that, you can’t bring a claim at all. For example, in a motor vehicle accident, you have three years from the date of accident. If you decide to bring a claim three years and a day after, you’re out of luck. You’re gone.

So, in this situation, they took in account that victims of sexual abuse, these things tend to go into hiding for years, you know, and not just…sometimes half a lifetime or beyond. No one even deals with it. So, this law came about and it said, basically, for a one-year window, all victims, all childhood victims of sexual abuse, are able to bring a civil claim, regardless of how old they are that it occurred. Under 18, they could be 70 years old now, and bring a claim.

Interviewer: Well, I mean, it makes complete sense. I mean, some folks need, you know, decades to work through stuff with therapy.

Interviewer 2: But for one year only. Then what is the statute go into?

Paul: Yeah. So, there are changes that you have up till 55 to bring the claim under the same set of facts. So, it’s gonna be, moving forward, if something’s happening now and a claim is not brought, you know, 20 years from now, that person could still do it. But again, at 56, they could not.

Interviewer 2: So, and then, since…this law just changed like a week or a little longer, have you guys seen the groundswell of people reaching out to you since this law changed?

Paul: We have. You know, it was, the media leading up to it, the news leading up to it, we received lots of inquiries. But no, once that hit, just a lot of people looking for information. We’ve been providing a lot of information to people. And, of course, we’ve seen cases, so many of them filed. In large part, you know, we saw that, you know, that the Catholic Diocese and the Boy Scouts…but lots of other claims are being filed. So, I think during this year, we’ll see thousands of claims filed across the state.

Interviewer: So, look, yeah, if you’ve been harboring or holding and you’re working through something, you know, get together with your therapy, your therapist, and this is your window. I know you’ve been struggling out there but this is your window, your opportunity to hold some people accountable. So, I hope people do that.

Interviewer 2: But after this year where there’s no statute of limitations, the statute of limitations then goes…it becomes 55 years or until you turn 55? How does that work again?

Paul: Until you turn 55, you do that. You know, we’re finding it…to your point, people who called in are sharing and they said, like, “We’ve shared this with no one. We haven’t even told…I haven’t told my wife, my kids. I haven’t told anyone. This is the first time I’m talking about it.” You know, and these people are in their 30s and 40s.

So, you know, real tricky [inaudible 00:03:02] and, you know, one of those topics that, you know, it’s kinda easy to not talk about. But, again, this is a chance, and I think when people do have the vindication and they’re able to face their accuser, that is a big part of their healing process.

Interviewer 2: If you go to the Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti website, there’s a link there, or you can get to Help. You can get more information. But then there’s also a statistic over to the right that says “180,000 adolescent victims in the U.S.” We assume that that’s the number out there, people who haven’t seeked help or filed information or for information and stuff?

Paul: Yeah. There’s that much going on out there. And one by one, the other states are starting to recognize the importance of this.

Interviewer: Current adolescents?

Paul: Yeah.

Interviewer: I mean, to say nothing of the people that are living as adults…

Interviewer 2: It’s incredible.

Interviewer: With years and years of trauma and… Well…

Paul: Yup. It’s every day. Yeah.

Interviewer 2: And this isn’t like…Paul, just to say it one more time, this isn’t just the clergy, just these big institutions like the Boy Scouts. This is any sexual assault when you’re a child, right?

Paul: Yup, any sexual assault as a child, that statute of limitations for one year has been lifted for everyone.

Interviewer: All right.

Interviewer 2: Great.

Interviewer: Very good, sir. Thank you, Paul. We appreciate the help.

Interviewer 2: Good stuff, Paul.

Interviewer: 1-800-LAW-1010. We’ll see you later, buddy.

Paul: All right. Talk soon guys.

Man 4: Quinn and Cantara. Morning…