More states across the U.S. are changing their legislation in regards to childhood sexual abuse civil lawsuits, and Rhode Island is no exception. Previously, Rhode Island law set a restrictive statute of limitations on all sexual abuse cases, which often made it difficult to pursue a claim as an adult. The newly passed bill, however, will allow individuals to file suits against their individual abusers up to 35 years after the time they reach adulthood, allowing victims more time to process their abuse and take action against the perpetrators. Our lawyers discuss everything you need to know about the new statute of limitations in RI.
The New Bill
Fortunately, the new law passed in the 2019 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly has changed things. Parts of the new statute of limitations law will extend the time limit to 35 years. The newly extended statute of limitations will now allow victims several more years to recover from their mistreatment and seek justice against their individual abusers. The law covers both the statute of limitation on molestation charges and assault. The right to file a claim against the culpable institutions – like the churches and other organizations who have enabled and covered up the abuse – is less clear, but more promising than the situation had been for years.
Why the Extension?
The mind of a child is extremely impressionable, and when faced with trauma it isn’t uncommon for the mind to suppress memories of the event for months, years, or sometimes even decades. As a result of this psychological defense mechanism, many victims of childhood sexual assault simply don’t remember their abuse, or fully process it, or gain the strength to speak about it, until they’re much older. However, under the previous law, those victims were often unable to take legal action against their abusers after they reach adulthood, even if they only understood the incident and damage years or decades later.
The new law is complex, however. One reading of the bill would prevent victims from filing suits against “non-perpetrators,” in other words, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, sports teams and leagues and other youth-oriented institutions. Holding the institutions and organizations accountable will require careful analysis of all the facts.
Do I Have a Case?
This recent statute of limitations modification will help more victims seek justice, even if their childhood abuse took place years or even decades in the past. If you were molested, assaulted, or otherwise abused as a child, our firm is prepared to help you take legal action.
We understand how challenging these types of situations can be, but we hope to bring you peace and justice by holding the liable person or institution responsible for the harm they caused. Our legal team is passionate about fighting for the rights of the injured, and if you were sexually abused as a child, we want to help you file a suit.
Contact Decof, Barry, Mega & Quinn, P.C. to discuss your case with our compassionate attorneys and learn more about the statute of limitations in RI.