MAINE

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

There is no civil SOL and all claims against all defendants are permanently revived.

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

NONE

DISCOVERY TOLLING

NONE

REVIVAL LAW

PERMANENT WINDOW

Liability Limitations: The State of Maine is immune from CSA claims.[i] Minors must file a notice of claim within 365 days of attaining majority.  The State is not liable for punitive damages[ii] or other damages arising from a single occurrence in excess of $400,000.[iii] Charitable immunity is recognized in Maine,[iv] though a charitable organization is deemed to have waived its tort immunity to the extent of any liability insurance coverage policy limits.[v]

Other Tolling Theories/Causes of Action: In Maine, courts have applied fiduciary fraud and fraudulent concealment theories to toll the SOL on claims arising from CSA.[vi]

Civil SOL History

Age Cap

2000

Eliminated the civil SOL for CSA.[vii]

 

Revival Law

2021

Opened a permanent revival window on October 18, 2021, reviving all previously expired CSA claims against all types of defendants.[viii]

 

Discovery

Common Law

No recognized common law discovery rule for CSA.[ix]

Statutory

The original 1989 discovery statute set the SOL at 3 years from discovery, and in 1991, it was extended to 6 years from discovery.[x]  The discovery rule ran from “the time the person discovers or reasonably should have discovered the harm.”[xi]    Claims that were already expired as of 1989 were not revived by the discovery statute.[xii] It was not settled whether the statute also applied to claims against non-perpetrators.[xiii]   That rule was eliminated in 2000, when the SOL was eliminated but it was unsettled whether older claims that were not expired in 1989 could be tolled in reliance on the 1989-2000 discovery rule that was in effect.[xiv]  In 2021, Maine revived all expired CSA claims no matter how long ago they were discovered, so the discovery statute is no longer relevant.[xv] 

 

[i] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, §§ 8103, 8104-A.

[ii] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 8105(5).

[iii] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 8105(3).

[iv] The defense of charitable immunity was first recognized by the Supreme Court in Jensen v. Maine Eye & Ear Infirmary, 78 A. 898 (Me. 1910).  See also Picher v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland, 974 A.2d 286 (Me. 2009) (declining to abrogate charitable immunity for acts of negligence involving the sexual abuse of a minor, but finding  charitable immunity is not a defense to intentional torts).

[v] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit.14, § 158; Rhoda v. Aroostook Gen. Hosp., 226 A.2d 530 (Me. 1967) (noting the language of the statute was “tacit recognition that the immunity of charitable institutions from liability for corporate negligence as well as for the negligence of subordinate employees shall remain where no insurance coverage is provided.”).

[vi] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, § 859 (1996); Harkness v. Fitzgerald, 701 A.2d 370 (Me. 1997) (explaining that to prove fraudulent concealment, the plaintiff must establish that defendants actively concealed material facts and that the plaintiff relied on their acts and statements to its detriment, or that a special relationship existed between the parties that imposed a duty to disclose a cause of action and the defendants failed to honor that duty); Westman v. Armitage, 215 A.2d 919 (Me. 1966) (noting that the statute begins to run when the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered in the exercise of due diligence and ordinary prudence, the existence of a cause of action or fraud).  See also Mansir v. United States, 299 F.Supp.3d 203 (D. Me. 2018) (finding that absent a special relationship, silence and inaction are insufficient as a matter of law to establish active concealment because omission by silence is not tantamount to supplying false information); Fortin v. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland, 871 A.2d 1208, 1220 (Me. 2005) (determining plaintiff had a fiduciary relationship with the diocese based upon his “prolonged and extensive involvement with the church as a student and altar boy,” such that plaintiff could proceed with his claim under the doctrine of fraudulent concealment, and that victim alleged sufficient facts to establish fiduciary relationship with diocese, so as to give rise to duty to protect on the part of the diocese, if diocese had reason to believe that priest posed substantial risk of harm to victim, for purposes of imposing negligent supervision liability against diocese).

[vii] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C (2000) (no SOL).

[viii] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C (2021) (permanent revival window); 2021 Me. Legis. Serv. Ch. 301 (H.P. 432).

[ix] Harkness v. Fitzgerald, 701 A.2d 370, 372 (Me. 1997) (declining to adopt discovery rule for CSA); McAfee v. Cole, 637 A.2d 463, 466 (Me. 1994) (stating, “[w]e decline from the circumstances of this case to announce a judicially crafted discovery rule applicable to the predecessor of section 752–C.”) (citing Bozzuto v. Ouellette, 408 A.2d 697 (Me. 1979))).

[x] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C (2000). See Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C (1991).

[xi] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C (2000).

[xii] McAfee, supra note 416, at 466.

[xiii] See Picher, supra note 411, at 102 (declining to address whether section 752-C is applicable to the Diocese); Fortin supra note 413, at 1214; Allen v. Forest, 257 F.Supp.2d 276, 280 (D. Me. 2003) (certifying the following question to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court: “Is 14 M.R.S.A. § 752-C applicable to claims against parties other than the perpetrator of the sexual acts toward minors that provide the factual basis for those claims?”). But see Keene v. Maine Dep’t of Corr., No. 1:17-CV-00403-JDL, 2018 WL 1737940, at *3 (D. Me. Apr. 11, 2018).

[xiv] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C (2021).

[xv] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 752-C (2021) (permanent revival window); 2021 Me. Legis. Serv. Ch. 301 (H.P. 432).

CURRENT MAINE CIVIL LAW

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14§ 752-C - Sexual acts towards minors

1.No limitation. Actions based upon sexual acts toward minors may be commenced at any time.

2.Sexual acts toward minors defined. As used in this section, “sexual acts toward minors” means the following acts that are committed against or engaged in with a person under the age of majority:

      A. Sexual act, as defined in Title 17-A, section 251, subsection 1, paragraph C; or

      B. Sexual contact, as defined in Title 17-A, section 251, subsection 1, paragraph D.

3. Application. This section applies to all actions based upon sexual acts toward
minors regardless of the date of the sexual act and regardless of whether the statute of
limitations on such actions expired prior to the effective date of this subsection.

Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, § 853 - Persons under disability may bring action when disability removed

If a person entitled to bring any of the actions under sections 752 to 754, including section 752-C, and under sections 851 and 852 and Title 24, section 2902 and, until July 1, 2017, section 2902-B is a minor, mentally ill, imprisoned or without the limits of the United States when the cause of action accrues, the action may be brought within the times limited herein after the disability is removed.

Case law

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

There is no criminal SOL for certain CSA crimes, an SOL of six years from the offense for trafficking, either six or twenty years from the offense for remaining felonies, and three years for misdemeanors.

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

OTHER FELNOIES

INCEST(victim under 16)

 No SOL Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(1)(B)

UNLAWFUL SEXUAL CONTACT (victim under 16)

No SOL Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(1)(B)

SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR (victim under 16)

No SOL Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(1)(B)

RAPE (victim under 16)

No SOL Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(1)(B)

GROSS SEXUAL ASSAULT (victim under 16)

No SOL Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(1)(B)

UNLAWFUL SEXUAL CONTACT (victim 16 and above)

20 years from offense Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(2-A)

GROSS SEXUAL ASSAULT (victim 16 and above)

20 years from offense Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(2-A)

OTHER FELONIES 

6 years from offense Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(2)

OTHER MISDEMEANORS

3 years from offense Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A § 8(2)

Tolling: The SOL will be tolled up to five years when the defendant leaves the State, and any time there is a prosecution pending against the defendant for the same conduct in the State.[i]

Criminal SOL History

Age Cap

2002

No criminal SOL for these felonies and misdemeanors committed against victims under age 16: incest, unlawful sexual contact, sexual abuse of a minor, rape, and gross sexual assault.  For felonies committed against victims age 16 and older, the SOL was 6 years from the offense, and for misdemeanors, 3 years from the offense.[ii]

2013

Extended the SOL for victims ages 16 and older for felony unlawful sexual contact or gross sexual assault to 8 years from the offense.[iii]

2019

Extended the SOL further for victims ages 16 and older for felony unlawful sexual contact or gross sexual assault to 20 years from the offense.[iv]

 

[i] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 8(3)(A) (1964).

[ii] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 8 (2002) (SOL).

[iii] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 8 (2013) (SOL).

[iv] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 8 (2019) (SOL).

CURRENT MAINE STATE LAW

Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A, § 8 - Statute of Limitations

1.It is a defense that prosecution was commenced after the expiration of the applicable period of limitations provided in this section, except that the following prosecutions may be commenced at any time:

A. A prosecution for murder or criminal homicide in the first or 2nd degree; or

B. If the victim had not attained the age of 16 years at the time of the crime, a prosecution for incest; unlawful sexual contact; sexual abuse of a minor; or rape or gross sexual assault, formerly denominated as gross sexual misconduct.

2.Except as provided in subsection 1 or 2-A, a prosecution for a Class A, Class B or Class C crime must be commenced within 6 years after it is committed and a prosecution for a Class D or Class E crime must be commenced within 3 years after it is committed. A and B. Deleted. Laws 2019, c. 483, § 2, eff. Sept. 19, 2019. Text of subsec. 2-A, as amended by Laws 2019, c. 113, § C-57.

2-A. A prosecution for a Class A, Class B or Class C crime involving unlawful sexual contact or gross sexual assault must be commenced within 8 years after it is committed.

2-A. A prosecution for a Class A, Class B or Class C crime involving unlawful sexual contact or gross sexual assault must be commenced within 20 years after it is committed.

This subsection does not apply to a Class D crime enhanced to a Class C crime pursuant to section 1252, subsection 4-A.

3.The periods of limitations shall not run:

A. During any time when the accused is absent from the State, but in no event shall this provision extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 5 years; B. During any time when a prosecution against the accused for the same crime based on the same conduct is pending in this State; or C. During any time when a prosecution against the accused for the corresponding juvenile crime based on the same conduct is pending in the Juvenile Court. For purposes of this section, pending includes any appeal period and, if an appeal is taken, any period pending its final disposition.

4.If a timely complaint, information or indictment is dismissed for any error, defect, insufficiency or irregularity, a new prosecution for the same crime based on the same conduct may be commenced within 6 months after the dismissal, or during the next session of the grand jury, whichever occurs later, even though the periods of limitations have expired at the time of such dismissal or will expire within such period of time.

5.If the period of limitation has expired, a prosecution may nevertheless be commenced for:

A. Any crime based upon breach of fiduciary obligation, within one year after discovery of the crime by an aggrieved party or by a person who has a legal duty to represent an aggrieved party, and who is not a party to the crime, whichever occurs first; B. Any crime based upon official misconduct by a public servant, at any time when such person is in public office or employment or within 2 years thereafter. C. This subsection shall in no event extend the limitation period otherwise applicable by more than 5 years.

6.For purposes of this section:

A. A crime is committed when every element thereof has occurred, or if the crime consists of a continuing course of conduct, at the time when the course of conduct or the defendant’s complicity therein is terminated; and B. A prosecution is commenced whenever one of the following occurs: (1) A criminal complaint is filed; (2) An indictment is returned; or (3) Following waiver of an indictment, an information is filed.

7.The defense established by this section shall not bar a conviction of a crime included in the crime charged, notwithstanding that the period of limitation has expired for the included crime, if as to the crime charged the period of limitation has not expired or there is no such period, and there is evidence which would sustain a conviction for the crime charged.

Case Law

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

Last Updated: April 21, 2021

IT'S EASY TO DONATE TO CHILD USA