The Georgia legislature is now considering a bill (House Bill 17) that would extend statute of limitations in civil court for child sexual abuse victims. Under the bill, victims would have until age 53 (35 years after the reach the age of majority) to file a lawsuit. Current law bars claims that are filed after a victim is 23 years old. In addition, the bill, titled the "Hidden Predator Act", would open add a two-year window for rivial of claims for vicitms who were previously the victims of sexual abuse and whose claims had already expired under the statute of limitations. If the bill is passed, Georgia would join California, Delaware, Hawaii and Minnesota as other jurisdictions who have created a "window" allowing older cases to be filed without being subject to a statute of limitations defense.
Of course, the policy reasons underlying an extension of the statute of limitations are plentiful. Plain and simple, it is exceptionally difficult for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to process what occurred and file a lawsuit in the short amount of time required by the statute of limitations in most states. For a child, sexual abuse is often confusing, embarrassing, private, and hurtful to disclose, particularly if the perpetrator was a family member or in a position of trust or authority. Given these multitude of factors, it is often not until late in life that survivors are able to process their abuse, disclose what occurred, and "connect the dots" between their childhood abuse and the horrific injuries that ensued. Additionally, victims are often blamessly unaware that another entity may be responsible for their abuse, as would be the case if a church or youth organization concealed its knowledge about the perpetrator’s prior history of abuse.
The current statute of limitations in many statutes, inlcuding Georiga, favors perpetrators and their enablers to the detriment of the abuse survivors. For these reasons and many others, window legislation such as the one being considered in Georgia is necessary to (1) protect the right of survivors of the most heinous acts of abuse; and (2) expose the predators and hold them accountable.
Our attorneys are experienced in representing survivors of sexual abuse in civil lawsuits throughout the country. If you or someone you know was a victim of child sexual abuse in Georgia, please contact our law firm at (954) 524-2820 or send an email to sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz at [email protected].