It is common for victim’s of childhood sexual abuse to bring claims against their abuser many years after the actual abuse stops. Problems can arise, however, if too long a period of time goes by with no lawsuit filed.
Each state has deadlines for filing a lawsuit. Different types of legal claims have different deadlines. Most personal injury claims are subject to a two (2) year deadline. In the State of Georgia, however, there is a special provision for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Victims are given five (5) years from the date they reach the age of majority (which is 18 in Georgia) to file a civil action (a lawsuit). Essentially, a victim has until their 23rd birthday.
Georgia’s special statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse is found at O.C.G.A. Section 9-3-33.1 and it defines “childhood sexual abuse” as meaning “any act committed by the defendant [the abuser] against the plaintiff [the victim] which act occurred when the plaintiff was under the age of 18 years” and then the law lists specific illegal acts covered by the special statute of limitations. They include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following acts of abuse:
- sodomy and aggravated sodomy
- statutory rape
- child molestation and aggravated child molestation
- enticing a child for indecent purposes
- solicitation of sodomy
- sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery
A note on one of the offenses in this list. Sodomy is often thought by laypersons to refer exclusively to anal sex. Georgia law defines it to include both anal and oral sex. O.C.G.A. Section 16-6-2(a)(1) reads: “A person commits the offense of sodomy when he or she performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.”
I note this because I do not want anyone to think that they are without legal remedy simply because oral sex is not listed in the statute.
If you or your child has been sexually abused by a priest, pastor, rabbi, clergy, coach, psychologist, or any other person, I hope you will call me. Due to the highly sensitive nature of this type of injury, you are welcome to call me directly on my personal line and you will not have to tell your story to any one other than me. Everything you tell me will be held in strictest confidence. My personal line is (678) 740-6928.
You are not alone –
With sadness and disgust, I am reading the news reports about Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach at Penn State. How could head football coach Joe Paterno and top university officials fail to act after being made aware, on several occasions, that Sandusky was molesting young boys on campus?
So very sad. How many more boys suffered because those in authority failed to contact the police? How many lives forever scarred because sex crimes were covered up and ignored by those in authority?
It shocks the conscience to hear that a college or university was informed that child sexual abuse had taken place, perpetrated by an employee, and no one alerted the police or made any effort to determine the well-being of the abused child. We have grown used to hearing reports of sex scandals in the Roman Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America. Now we have another institution, college sports, losing the trust of Americans.
Institutions do a bad job of policing themselves. How do we hold top school officials accountable? Criminal charges alone are not enough. Our civil justice system is designed to work in harmony with the criminal justice system to mete out punishment to wrongdoers, make those who enable abusers pay for the harm they have done, and send a signal to other top school officials that they better get sex criminals off the campus and turned in to the police.
Most coaches, teachers, clergy members, scout leaders, camp counselors and others in positions of authority are not abusers in waiting and are seeking to improve children’s lives. Yet among the good lurk the bad. The Penn State scandal is sure to result in lawsuits that last for years to come. If your child has been sexually assaulted and you are ready to hold those responsible accountable via a lawsuit, let’s talk.
Sexual assaults on children often go undiscovered and unreported until long after the applicable statute of limitations has expired. Pedophiles and pederasts are masters of manipulation and sometimes the child does not even know that what has happened to them is wrong.
The perpetrators of child sexual abuse try to shroud their sins until it is too late for the parents of the child to take legal action. Perpetrators usually enjoy a position of trust and authority and use their position to hide the evidence of their wrongdoing. Examples of settings within which such abuse takes place:
- Churches (clergy sexually abusing children in their church)
- Schools (teachers sexually abusing children in their classes)
- Sports Teams (coaches sexually abusing children on their teams)
- Doctors/Hospitals (doctors/nurses sexually abusing children under their care)
- Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts (scoutmasters/troop Leaders sexually abusing children in their pack/troop)
- Day Care Centers (child care providers sexually abusing children they care for)
- Homes (relatives sexually abusing children)
This report describes how one such predator, a pediatrician who sexually abused child patients, abused scores of children before getting caught –
Child sex abuse is disturbingly common. The younger the child the less likely the abuse will be reported. Parents who do discover signs of abuse may feel they lack the power or resources to do anything about it. The perpetrator may be someone the parents knew and trusted. It may be a close relative.
Reporting sex abuse to the police does not always result in justice for your child. Sometimes civil litigation against a sex offender is an additional way to punish and deter the abuser from harming more children and to recover money to pay for the help you and your child need.
Deciding whether to bring a civil claim against the person who sexually abused your child is not easy. Much thought goes into such a decision. Getting counsel from an attorney about your legal options may be a good place to start. If your loved one has suffered at the hands of a sexual predator and you are struggling with what you can do, please call me. A legal claim may provide much needed compensation to pay for medical treatment and counseling for you and your child.