IOWA

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

The current SOL in Iowa for child sex abuse civil claims is age 19 against all defendants, with some limited special rules for abuse by a counselor, instructor, or school employee, and a discovery rule of 4 years for some cases.

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

AGE 19

DISCOVERY TOLLING

4 YEARS

REVIVAL LAW

NONE

 

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap: Since 1990, the civil SOL in Iowa for child sex abuse claims has been capped at age 19 (age of majority, 18, plus 1 year). In the case of sexual abuse by a counselor or therapist, the SOL was the later of 5 years from the last treatment or age 19 (age of majority, 18, plus 1 year). In 2003, Iowa extended the SOL for sexual abuse by a school employee to the later of 5 years from the last date victim attended the school or age 19 (age of majority, 18, plus 1 year). In 2021, Iowa extended the SOL for sexual abuse or exploitation by an adult providing training or instruction  to 5 years after treatment or after the victim was last in school. 

Discovery:  In 1990, Iowa recognized a common law discovery rule of 2 years for child sex abuse. This discovery rule delays accrual of a cause of action until a person discovers or reasonably should have discovered the “nexus” between “some specific act or acts of sexual abuse” and “the claimed injuries.” The common law discovery rule is applicable to claims against all defendants – including some government entities. Iowa added a statutory discovery rule in 1990 for victims abused while under age 14. It gives these victims 4 years to file a claim “from the time of discovery by the injured party of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the sexual abuse”. The statutory discovery rule applies to claims against perpetrators, individuals, and institutions, but not against some government entities.  

Revival Law:  Iowa has not passed a window or other SOL revival legislation.

CURRENT IOWA CIVIL LAW

Iowa Code § 614.1 - Period
Actions may be brought within the times limited as follows, respectively, after their causes accrue, and not afterwards, except when otherwise specially declared:
1. Penalties or forfeitures under ordinance. Those to enforce the payment of a penalty or forfeiture under an ordinance, within one year.
2. Injuries to person or reputation–relative rights–statute penalty. Those founded on injuries to the person or reputation, including injuries to relative rights, whether based on contract or tort, or for a statute penalty, within two years.
2A. With respect to products.
a. Those founded on the death of a person or injuries to the person or property brought against the manufacturer, assembler, designer, supplier of specifications, seller, lessor, or distributor of a product based upon an alleged defect in the design, inspection, testing, manufacturing, formulation, marketing, packaging, warning, labeling of the product, or any other alleged defect or failure of whatever nature or kind, based on the theories of strict liability in tort, negligence, or breach of an implied warranty shall not be commenced more than fifteen years after the product was first purchased, leased, bailed, or installed for use or consumption unless expressly warranted for a longer period of time by the manufacturer, assembler, designer, supplier of specifications, seller, lessor, or distributor of the product. This subsection shall not affect the time during which a person found liable may seek and obtain contribution or indemnity from another person whose actual fault caused a product to be defective. This subsection shall not apply if the manufacturer, assembler, designer, supplier of specifications, seller, lessor, or distributor of the product intentionally misrepresents facts about the product or fraudulently conceals information about the product and that conduct was a substantial cause of the claimant’s harm.
b. (1) The fifteen-year limitation in paragraph “a” shall not apply to the time period in which to discover a disease that is latent and caused by exposure to a harmful material, in which event the cause of action shall be deemed to have accrued when the disease and such disease’s cause have been made known to the person or at the point the person should have been aware of the disease and such disease’s cause. This subsection shall not apply to cases governed by subsection 11 of this section.
(2) As used in this paragraph, “harmful material” means silicone gel breast implants, which were implanted prior to July 12, 1992; and chemical substances commonly known as asbestos, dioxins, tobacco, or polychlorinated biphenyls, whether alone or as part of any product; or any substance which is determined to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment by the United States environmental protection agency pursuant to the federal Toxic Substance Control Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., or by this state, if that risk is regulated by the United States environmental protection agency or this state.
3. Against sheriff or other public officer. Those against a sheriff or other public officer for the nonpayment of money collected on execution within three years of collection.
4. Unwritten contracts–injuries to property–fraud–other actions. Those founded on unwritten contracts, those brought for injuries to property, or for relief on the ground of fraud in cases heretofore solely cognizable in a court of chancery, and all other actions not otherwise provided for in this respect, within five years, except as provided by subsections 8 and 10.
5. Written contracts–judgments of courts not of record–recovery of real property and rent.
a. Except as provided in paragraph “b”, those founded on written contracts, or on judgments of any courts except those provided for in subsection 6, and those brought for the recovery of real property, within ten years.
b. Those founded on claims for rent, within five years.
6. Judgments of courts of record. Those founded on a judgment of a court of record, whether of this or of any other of the United States, or of the federal courts of the United States, within twenty years, except that a time period limitation shall not apply to an action to recover a judgment for child support, spousal support, or a judgment of distribution of marital assets.
7. Judgment quieting title. No action shall be brought to set aside a judgment or decree quieting title to real estate unless the same shall be commenced within ten years from and after the rendition thereof.
8. Wages. Those founded on claims for wages or for a liability or penalty for failure to pay wages, within two years.
9. Malpractice.
a. Except as provided in paragraph “b”, those founded on injuries to the person or wrongful death against any physician and surgeon, osteopathic physician and surgeon, dentist, podiatric physician, optometrist, pharmacist, chiropractor, physician assistant, or nurse, licensed under chapter 147, or a hospital licensed under chapter 135B, arising out of patient care, within two years after the date on which the claimant knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known, or received notice in writing of the existence of, the injury or death for which damages are sought in the action, whichever of the dates occurs first, but in no event shall any action be brought more than six years after the date on which occurred the act or omission or occurrence alleged in the action to have been the cause of the injury or death unless a foreign object unintentionally left in the body caused the injury or death.
b. An action subject to paragraph “a” and brought on behalf of a minor who was under the age of eight years when the act, omission, or occurrence alleged in the action occurred shall be commenced no later than the minor’s tenth birthday or as provided in paragraph “a”, whichever is later.
10. Secured interest in farm products. Those founded on a secured interest in farm products, within two years from the date of sale of the farm products against the secured interest of the creditor.
11. Improvements to real property.
a. In addition to limitations contained elsewhere in this section, an action arising out of the unsafe or defective condition of an improvement to real property based on tort and implied warranty and for contribution and indemnity, and founded on injury to property, real or personal, or injury to the person or wrongful death, shall not be brought more than the number of years specified below after the date on which occurred the act or omission of the defendant alleged in the action to have been the cause of the injury or death:
(1) For an action arising from or related to a nuclear power plant licensed by the United States nuclear regulatory commission or an interstate pipeline licensed by the federal energy regulatory commission, fifteen years.
(2) For an action arising from or related to residential construction, as defined in section 572.1, ten years.
(3) For an action arising from or related to any other kind of improvement to real property, eight years.
b. Notwithstanding paragraph “a”, an action arising from or related to the intentional misconduct or fraudulent concealment of an unsafe or defective condition of an improvement to real property shall not be brought more than fifteen years after the date on which occurred the act or omission of the defendant alleged in the action to have been the cause of the injury or death.
c. If the unsafe or defective condition is discovered within one year prior to the expiration of the applicable period of repose, the period of repose shall be extended one year.
d. This subsection does not bar an action against a person solely in the person’s capacity as an owner, occupant, or operator of an improvement to real property.
12. Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee. An action for damages for injury suffered as a result of sexual abuse, as defined in section 709.1, by a counselor, therapist, or school employee, as defined in section 709.15, or as a result of sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee shall be brought within five years of the date the victim was last treated by the counselor or therapist, or within five years of the date the victim was last enrolled in or attended the school.
13. Public bonds or obligations. Those founded on the cancellation, transfer, redemption, or replacement of public bonds or obligations by an issuer, trustee, transfer agent, registrar, depository, paying agent, or other agent of the public bonds or obligations, within eleven years of the cancellation, transfer, redemption, or replacement of the public bonds or obligations.
14. County collection of taxes. No time limitation shall apply to an action brought by a county under section 445.3 to collect delinquent real property taxes levied on or after April 1, 1992.
Iowa Code § 614.8A - Damages for child sexual abuse--time limitation

An action for damages for injury suffered as a result of sexual abuse which occurred when the injured person was a child, but not discovered until after the injured person is of the age of majority, shall be brought within four years from the time of discovery by the injured party of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the sexual abuse.

Iowa Code § 614.8 - Minors and persons with mental illness

1. The times limited for actions in this chapter, or chapter 216, 669, or 670, except those brought for penalties and forfeitures, are extended in favor of persons with mental illness, so that they shall have one year from and after the termination of the disability within which to file a complaint pursuant to chapter 216, to make a claim pursuant to chapter 669, or to otherwise commence an action.

2. Except as provided in section 614.1, subsection 9, the times limited for actions in this chapter, or chapter 216, 669, or 670, except those brought for penalties and forfeitures, are extended in favor of minors, so that they shall have one year from and after attainment of majority within which to file a complaint pursuant to chapter 216, to make a claim pursuant to chapter 669, or to otherwise commence an action.

Case law

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

In Iowa, there is no criminal SOL for all child sex abuse felonies and misdemeanors. 

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

OTHER FELONIES

SEX ABUSE OF MINOR IN FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD DEGREE

No SOL Iowa Code § 802.2

INCEST

No SOL Iowa Code § 802.2A

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION BY COUNSELOR, THERAPIST, SCHOOL EMPLOYEE OR INSTRUCTOR

No SOL Iowa Code § 802.2A

TRAFFICKING

No SOL Iowa Code § 802.2D

OTHER FELONIES AND SEXUAL OFFENSES

No SOL Iowa Code § 802.2B

 

DNA SNAPSHOT

 

DNA RULE

N/A
N/A 

Changes Since 2002:

In 2002, the criminal SOL in Iowa was age 28 (age of majority, 18, plus 10 years) for first, second, and third-degree sexual abuse, incest, and sexual exploitation. Iowa also has a DNA discovery rule, enacted in 2005, which extends the SOL to three years after the date the alleged perpetrator is identified via DNA. It extended the SOL for other sexual offenses to age 28 in 2014 and again in 2016 to include trafficking. In 2019, Iowa extended its criminal SOL to age 33 (age of majority, 18, plus 15 years) for felony sexual abuse of a minor, incest and felony and misdemeanor sexual exploitation. In 2021, Iowa eliminated its criminal SOL for all child sex abuse felonies and misdemeanors.

CURRENT IOWA CRIMINAL LAW

Iowa Code §§ 802.2 - Sexual abuse--first, second, or third degree

1. An information or indictment for sexual abuse in the first, second, or third degree committed on or with a person who is under the age of eighteen years shall be found within fifteen years after the person upon whom the offense is committed attains eighteen years of age, or if the person against whom the information or indictment is sought is identified through the use of a DNA profile, an information or indictment shall be found within three years from the date the person is identified by the person’s DNA profile, whichever is later.

2. An information or indictment for any other sexual abuse in the first, second, or third degree shall be found within ten years after its commission, or if the person against whom the information or indictment is sought is identified through the use of a DNA profile, an information or indictment shall be found within three years from the date the person is identified by the person’s DNA profile, whichever is later.

As used in this section, “identified” means a person’s legal name is known and the person has been determined to be the source of the DNA.

Iowa Code § 802.2A - Incest--sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee
  1. An information or indictment for incest under section 726.2 committed on or with a person who is under the age of eighteen shall be found within fifteen years after the person upon whom the offense is committed attains eighteen years of age. An information or indictment for any other incest shall be found within ten years after its commission.

An indictment or information for sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee under section 709.15 committed on or with a person who is under the age of eighteen shall be found within fifteen years after the person upon whom the offense is committed attains eighteen years of age. An information or indictment for any other sexual exploitation shall be found within ten years of the date the victim was last treated by the counselor or therapist, or within ten years of the date the victim was enrolled in or attended the school.

Iowa Code § 802.2B - Other Sexual Offenses

An information or indictment for the following offenses committed on or with a person who is under the age of eighteen years shall be found within ten years after the person upon whom the offense is committed attains eighteen years of age, or if the person against whom the information or indictment is sought is identified through the use of a DNA profile, an information or indictment shall be found within three years from the date the person is identified by the person’s DNA profile, whichever is later:

  1. Lascivious acts with a child in violation of section 709.8.
  2. Assault with intent to commit sexual abuse in violation of section 709.11.
  3. Indecent contact with a child in violation of section 709.12.
  4. Lascivious conduct with a minor in violation of section 709.14.
  5. Sexual misconduct with a juvenile in violation of section 709.16, subsection 2.
  6. Child endangerment in violation of section 726.6, subsection 4, 5, or 6.
  7. Sexual exploitation of a minor in violation of section 728.12.
Iowa Code § 802.2D - Human Trafficking

An information or indictment for human trafficking in violation of section 710A.2, committed on or with a person who is under the age of eighteen years shall be found within ten years after the person upon whom the offense is committed attains eighteen years of age, or if the person against whom the information or indictment is sought is identified through the use of a DNA profile, an information or indictment shall be found within three years from the date the person is identified by the person’s DNA profile, whichever is later.

Case Law

The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the Iowa SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.

Last Updated: April 21, 2021

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