RHODE ISLAND

CHILD SEX ABUSE SOLs

CURRENT CIVIL SOL

In Rhode Island, the civil SOL for child sex abuse claims is capped at age 53 (age of majority, 18, plus 35 years). There is also a discovery rule, which allows victims to file a claim up to 7 years after they discover the connection between their injury and the abuse. A revival law is in effect and previously expired claims can be filed until a survivor reaches age 53 against perpetrators only.

CIVIL SOL SNAPSHOT

AGE CAP

AGE 53

DISCOVERY TOLLING

7 YEARS

REVIVAL LAW

REVIVAL UP TO AGE 53

Changes Since 2002:

Age Cap: Since 1993, the Rhode Island civil SOL for child sex abuse was age 25 (age of majority, 18, plus 7) against a perpetrator and age 21 (age of majority, 18, plus 3 years) against other defendants.   In 2019, Rhode Island extended its civil SOL to age 53 (age of majority, 18, plus 35 years) for claims against all types of defendants.

Discovery:  In 1991, Rhode Island courts considered applying its common law discovery rule to child sex abuse for the first time. In 1991, Rhode Island enacted a statutory discovery rule for child sex abuse claims of 3 years. In 1993 this was extended to 7 years, which the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island held applied only to claims against perpetrators and “did not alter” the 3-year rule for claims against non-perpetrators. The discovery rule is measured by a reasonable diligence standard, and courts assess when a reasonable person in a similar situation to the plaintiff would discover the connection between their injury and their abuse. In 2019, Rhode Island expanded its statutory 7-year discovery rule to apply against perpetrators, private organizations, and the government.

Revival Law:  In 2019, Rhode Island revived child sex abuse claims by survivors up until they reach age 53, against perpetrators only. For a guide to help survivors understand their rights during the legal process of filing a civil lawsuit under Rhode Island’s revival law, click the survivor tool kit below.

CURRENT RHODE ISLAND CIVIL LAW

tit. 9 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 9-1-51 - Limitation on actions based on sexual abuse or exploitation of a child

(a) (1) All claims or causes of action brought against a perpetrator defendant by any person for recovery of damages for injury suffered as a result of sexual abuse shall be commenced within the later to expire of:

(i) Thirty-five (35) years of the act alleged to have caused the injury or condition; or

(ii) Seven (7) years from the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the act.

Provided, however, that the time limit or commencement of such an action under this section shall be tolled for a child until the child reaches eighteen (18) years of age. For the purposes of this section, “sexual abuse” shall have the same meaning as in subsection (e) of this section.

(2) All claims or causes of action brought against a non-perpetrator defendant by any person alleging negligent supervision of a person that sexually abused a minor, or that the non-perpetrator defendant’s conduct caused or contributed to the childhood sexual abuse by another person to include, but not be limited to, wrongful conduct, neglect or default in supervision, hiring, employment, training, monitoring, or failure to report and/or the concealment of sexual abuse of a child shall be commenced within the later to expire of:

(i) Thirty-five (35) years of the act or acts alleged to have caused an injury or condition to the minor; or

(ii) Seven (7) years from the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the act.

Provided, however, that the time limit or commencement of such an action under this section shall be tolled for a child until the child reaches eighteen (18) years of age.

For purposes of this section “sexual abuse” shall have the same meaning as in subsection (e) of this section.

(3) As to a perpetrator defendant, any claim or cause of action based on conduct of sexual abuse may be commenced within the time period enumerated in subsections (a)(1)(i) and (a)(1)(ii) regardless if the claim was time-barred under previous version of the general laws.

(4) Except as provided in subsection (a)(3) herein, any claim or cause of action based on conduct of sexual abuse or conduct that caused or contributed to sexual abuse, if the action is not otherwise time-barred under previous version of the general laws on the effective date of this section, may be commenced within the time period enumerated in subsections (a)(1) and (a)(2) of this section.

(b) The victim need not establish which act in a series of continuing sexual abuse or exploitation incidents cause the injury complained of, but may compute the date of discovery from the date of the last act by the same perpetrator which is part of a common scheme or plan of sexual abuse or exploitation.

(c) The knowledge of a custodial parent or guardian shall not be imputed to a person under the age of eighteen (18) years.

(d) For purposes of this section, “child” means a person under the age of eighteen (18) years.

(e) As used in this section, “sexual abuse” means any act committed by the defendant against a complainant who was less than eighteen (18) years of age at the time of the act and which act would have been a criminal violation of chapter 37 of title 11.

tit. 9 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 9–1–14 - Limitation of actions for words spoken or personal injuries

(a) Actions for words spoken shall be commenced and sued within one year next after the words spoken, and not after.

(b) Actions for injuries to the person shall be commenced and sued within three (3) years next after the cause of action shall accrue, and not after, except as provided for otherwise in subsection (c) herein.

Notwithstanding anything herein, any claim based on sexual abuse or exploitation of a child shall be governed by § 9-1-51.

(c) As to an action for personal injuries wherein an injured party is entitled to proceed against an insurer pursuant to § 27-7-2, where an action is otherwise properly filed against an insured within the time limitations provided for by this section, and process against the insured tortfeasor has been returned “non est inventus” and filed with the court, then the statutory limitation for filing an action under § 27-7-2 directly against an insurer shall be extended an additional one hundred twenty (120) days after the expiration of the time limitation provided for in subsection (b) herein.

Case law

CURRENT CRIMINAL SOL

In Rhode Island, there is no criminal SOL for rape, first degree sexual assault, first degree child molestation sexual assault, second-degree child molestation sexual assault, and bigamy. The criminal SOL for all other child sex abuse crimes is three years from the commission of the act.

CRIMINAL SOL SNAPSHOT

OTHER FELNOIES

RAPE

NO SOL tit. 12 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12-12-17(a)

1ST DEGREE SEXUAL ASSAULT

NO SOL tit. 12 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12-12-17(a)

1ST DEGREE CHILD MOLESTATION

NO SOL tit. 12 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12-12-17(a)

2ND DEGREE CHILD MOLESTATION

NO SOL tit. 12 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12-12-17(a)

BIGAMY

NO SOL tit. 12 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12-12-17(a)

OTHER FELONIES AND MISDEMEANORS

3 YEARS FROM OFFENSE tit. 12 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12-12-17(c)

DNA SNAPSHOT

 

NO DNA STATUTE

   

Changes Since 2002:

Rhode Island eliminated the criminal SOLs for some felonies in 1985.  The SOL for all other child sex abuse crimes is 3 years from the offense.

CURRENT X STATE LAW

tit. 12 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 12-12-17 - Statute of limitations

(a) There shall be no statute of limitations for the following offenses: treason against the state; any homicide, arson, first-degree arson, second-degree arson, third-degree arson, burglary, counterfeiting, forgery, robbery, rape, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree child molestation sexual assault, second-degree child molestation sexual assault, bigamy; manufacturing, selling, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance under the Uniform Controlled Substance Act, chapter 28 of title 21; or any other offense for which the maximum penalty provided is life imprisonment.

(b) The statute of limitations for the following offenses shall be ten (10) years: larceny under § 11-41-2 (receiving stolen goods), § 11-41-3 (embezzlement and fraudulent conversion), § 11-41-4 (obtaining property by false pretenses or personation), § 11-41-11 (embezzlement by bank officer or employee), § 11-41-12 (fraudulent conversion by agent or factor), and § 11-41-13 (obtaining signature by false pretenses), or any larceny that is punishable as a felony; any violation of chapter 7 of title 11 (bribery); any violation of § 11-18-1 (giving false document to agent, employee, or public official); perjury; any violation of chapter 42 of title 11 (threats and extortion); any violation of chapter 15 of title 7 (racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations); any violation of chapter 57 of title 11 (racketeer violence); any violation of chapter 36 of title 6 (antitrust law); any violation of § 11-68-2 (exploitation of an elder); any violation of § 11-41-11.1 (unlawful appropriation); any violation of § 11-18-6 (false financial statement to obtain loan or credit); any violation of § 19-9-28 (false statement to obtain a loan); any violation of § 19-9-29 (bank fraud); or any violation of § 11-18-34 (residential mortgage fraud).

(c) The statute of limitations for any other criminal offense shall be three (3) years, unless a longer statute of limitations is otherwise provided for in the general laws.

(d) Any person who participates in any offense, either as a principal accessory or conspirator, shall be subject to the same statute of limitations as if the person had committed the substantive offense.

(e) The statute of limitations for any violation of chapter 18.9 of title 23 (refuse disposal), chapter 19 of title 23 (solid waste management corporation), chapter 19.1 of title 23 (hazardous waste management), chapter 12 of title 46 (water pollution), and chapter 13 of title 46 (public drinking water supply) shall be seven (7) years from the time that the facts constituting the offense or violation shall have become known to law enforcement authorities, unless a longer statute of limitations is otherwise provided for in the general laws.

Case Law

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

Last Updated: April 21, 2021

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