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Governor Patrick Signs Statute of Limitations Law
Survivors Moving Forward to File Civil Actions
June 26, 2014, BOSTON, MA – Today Governor Deval Patrick officially signed into law a bill that will finally provide civil relief for victims of child sexual abuse who were previously time-barred under the old law from filing charges against their alleged abusers. After several months of behind-the-scenes negotiations among legislators, legal experts, child advocates and the MA Catholic Archdioceses, the bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate late last week. The bill, which included an emergency provision, immediately went into effect this afternoon upon the Governor’s signing. Given the favorable support by the legislature last week, however, many survivors already began to explore their new legal options.
How do the new and old SOL laws compare?
NEW LAW: Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse - age 53
For abuse occurring from this date on, a victim can bring suit against their abuser and the supervisor or employer of the abuser, any time before their 53rd birthday.
For abuse that occurred prior to passage of the new law, a victim who was barred under the old law can now bring suit against their abuser, any time before their 53rd birthday. They are still restricted from bringing suit against the supervisor or employer of the abuser.
OLD LAW: Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse - age 18
A victim of child sexual abuse upon reaching the age of 18 could file suit against their abuser and supervisor or employer of the abuser.
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NEW LAW: Discovery Rule - 7 years
A victim of child sexual abuse now has 7 years after they reach their 18th birthday, or 7 years from the time they discover or reasonably should have discovered the harm caused by the abuse, to file a complaint.
There is NO age limit to the 7 year discovery rule, e.g. a victim abused at age 15 who does not discover the harm done until they are significantly older may still file a complaint if it is filed within 7 years after they discover the harm done or before their 53rd birthday, whichever is LATER.
The 7 Year Discovery Rule is also retroactive for supervisors and employers, e.g. a victim of child sexual abuse who is 40 years old and discovers at that time the harm done by the abuse would have until age 47 to file a complaint against the abuser's supervisor or employer. The victim would have until age 53 to sue their abuser as the time limit is the later of the two ages that is, age 53 or 47 years – 7 years from discovery.)
OLD LAW: Discovery Rule - 3 years
A victim of child sexual abuse had 3 years after their 18th birthday, or 3 years from the time they discovered or should have discovered the harm caused by the abuse, to file a complaint. There was no retroactive provision for this Discovery Rule.
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NEW LAW: MA Tort Claims for child sexual abuse claims only
A written notice of intent to file a complaint against an abuser, supervisor or employer is no longer required.
OLD LAW: MA Tort Claims- 2 year notice & 3 Year SOL
There was a required 2-year written notice of intent to file a complaint for suits brought against towns, cities, governments, municipalities and a 3-year SOL.
A Superbowl Message from our Partners, Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey:
Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey is working with the Department of Children and Families to strengthen efforts to combat human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children in our state. Human trafficking is a serious problem in NJ with young girls from ages 12-14 at highest risk for being exploited sexually. And, you may not know that this is a major cause of concern for some of the children in our state. Many children will be bought and sold during this time. The Super Bowl will be in less than two weeks. Learn what you can do to prevent the devastating toll of these atrocities on young people.
You are cordially invited to SNAP's 25th Anniversary Lecture
Hosted by Massachusetts Citizens for Children
"How did we get here and where are we going?"
Join us for a reflection on the work of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) that advocated before the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child to hold the Vatican accountable for clergy sexual abuse. Our distinguished speakers will discuss next steps in the drive to deter cover-ups of these crimes by the Church and to hold perpetrators and their enablers accountable.
When: March 23, 2014 ~ 3:00-5:00 P.M
Where: New England Law | Boston 154 Stuart Street, Room 301 Boston, MA 02116
Vince Warren is the Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a national legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Bishop Tom Gumbleton is a retired auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He is one of the very few church officials to take real action in the fight against clergy sexual abuse. Gumbleton is a courageous advocate for reform and passionately defends sexually abused victims.
Twenty-five years ago Barbara Blaine founded SNAP. She works to help other survivors expose wrongdoers and prevent clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
Suggested ticket prices or absentee donation amount:
Champion $1,000 --- Sponsor $500 --- Angel $250 --- Patron $100 --- Regular $25
or mail a check to:
SNAP Network, PO Box 6416, Chicago IL, 60680
American Academy of Pediatrics' New Policy Statement
Read the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) offical statement on religiously-motivated medical neglect in the journal Pediatrics, published on October 28, 2013. The online version of this arcile, along with updated information and services can be found here. Titled "Conflicts Between Religious or Spiritual Beliefs and Pediatic Care: Informed Refusal, Exemptions, and Public Funding" this policy statement is one of the AAP's strongest statements on the subject to date.
Although respect for parents’decision-making authority is an important principle, pediatricians should report suspected cases of medical neglect, and the state should, at times, intervene to require medical treatment of children. Some parents’ reasons for refusing medical treatment are based on their religious or spiritual beliefs. In cases in which treatment is likely to prevent death or serious disability or relieve severe pain, children’s health and future autonomy should be protected. Because religious exemptions to child abuse and neglect laws do not equally protect all children and may harm some children by causing confusion about the duty to provide medical treatment, these exemptions should be repealed. Furthermore, public health care funds should not cover alternative unproven religious or spiritual healing practices. Such payments may inappropriately legitimize these practices as appropriate medical treatment. Pediatrics2013;132:962–965