Statute Of Limitations In Child Sexual Abuse Cases Can Yield Harsh Results
I recently saw this story on the New York Times website regarding the Yeshiva University high school and thought it would be useful to potential readers of this blog — particularly those who may have been victims of child sexual abuse, especially here in Florida.
The New York Times story pertained to a lawsuit brought in federal court in New York by 34 men who claim that they were abused from the 1970s through the 1990s by two rabbis at the Yeshiva University High School in New York City. A federal appeals court panel dismissed the men’s lawsuit last week.
The appeals court panel ruled that the men should have brought their legal cases earlier, but that they had waited too long. Every state, including New York, has various Statutes of Limitation that put time limits on each kind of lawsuit that can be brought. In negligence cases (such as negligent supervision cases – which most abuse cases against institutional defendants are) lawsuits generally have to be filed within two or four years of the time that the injured parties knew or should have known they were injured. In child sexual abuse cases, there are often circumstances that extend the Statute of Limitations, but not indefinitely.
The men in this case relied upon the argument that they were justifiably delayed in bringing the lawsuit because of a cover-up on behalf of the University in an effort to protect the rabbis. The appeals court indicated that the delay was not justified because the men reasonably should have seen the stonewalling by the University for the cover-up that it was, and should have filed suit soon thereafter in order to get to the bottom of things. It goes without saying that the men will not be allowed to go forth with proof to support their claims.
On the surface, it can seem to child sexual abuse victims like the legal system is designed to protect institutions and sexual abusers from money damages instead of seeing that victims are properly compensated. As a result of decisions like these, it is important for anyone who has been victimized by a child sexual assault to know that there are all kinds of technical legal pitfalls like this one that can destroy a civil claim for damages. Therefore, it is always worthwhile for child sexual abuse victims to have their legal questions answered as soon as possible.
Fortunately, many states, including Florida, have recently passed laws relaxing the Statute of Limitations for actions arising out of child sexual abuse. This, of course, should be helpful to new victims of abuse, but not so much for today’s adults who were victimized years decades ago.
If you have any questions regarding a child sexual abuse case, or the Statute of Limitations that may apply to these claims, please call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901.