Written on December 14, 2023, by Marci A. Hamilton, Founder and CEO, CHILD USA
2023 has been a good year for child sex abuse (CSA) statutes of limitation (SOL) reform, but not a banner year. Here’s a quick rundown of the SOL picture right now.
In 2023, as you can see in our SOL Tracker, 15 states lengthened criminal and civil CSA SOLs and/or revived expired civil claims. CHILD USA and CHILD USAdvocacy’s biggest achievement was Maryland, yes, Maryland, which passed a permanent window that means the victims of child sex abuse should not have to face SOL barriers in their cases anymore. The bill is up for constitutional challenge in 2024, and CHILD USA will be supporting the cases with our highly successful amicus briefing.
Maine eliminated the charitable immunity caps, and its permanent window is now being considered by the Supreme Court of Maine. The North Carolina window was upheld in several lower courts on its way up to the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Louisiana window continues to wend its way through the courts. Our amicus briefing was pivotal in all three states, and we will continue to support these efforts moving forward.
We also invested time and effort into SOL reform and window legislation that will be on the agenda in 2024. In New York, we will be working on a permanent window as well as a fix to the CVA, which has encountered some challenges in the courts in cases involving abuse in government-based programs. Communities of color were underrepresented in the Child Victims Act cases and we want to make sure they have the time they need to come forward.
There was positive movement for a Michigan window, and we expect to see some changes to the current bill as the window heads to passage and Governor Whitmer’s signature.
A window as well as elimination of charitable immunity in child sex abuse cases looks promising for Massachusetts in 2024. There’s some promise in Rhode Island as well.
We have also made significant strides in Europe in partnership with the Brave Movement pushing for the elimination of criminal SOLs.
Of course, there will be more states and countries considering SOL reform and even more amicus briefs supporting the SOL mission in 2024.
We will have two exciting new developments on SOL reform in 2024. First, we are publishing a book on the history of SOLs since 2002, which includes coverage of the 50 states, territories, and the federal government and specific issues including tolling and discovery rule analyses. It is a collection of years of research and thousands of hours analysis and writing that will be useful for every attorney and law firm working on child sex abuse issues.
Second, we will be instituting an SOL consulting service. If you have questions that are not answered by the copious information on our law page, you will be able to speak with one of our attorneys to work out thorny questions in this space. Stay tuned for announcements on our upcoming SOL book and consulting service in 2024 through our weekly newsletter.