Milestone Change in Louisiana Law Eliminates Deadlines for Child Sexual Abuse Survivors to Pursue Damages

by Frank E. Lamothe, III

A newly enacted state statute has reopened the courthouse doors for many Louisianans subjected to childhood sexual assault and abuse and removes restrictions to those who may seek justice in the future. This landmark change in the law is a massive victory for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The New Law Expands Child Sexual Assault Survivors Rights

On June 14, 2021, Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law the historic bill that now puts Louisiana at the forefront of U.S. states expanding the rights of child sex assault survivors. Though scarcely 400 words long, the statute strikes a lasting blow against abusers and the institutions and employers that allow them to prey on adolescents. The law takes effect on August 1, 2021.

This new legislation provides a three-year “lookback window” for all child molestation allegations – even those that would have been held time-barred before August 1, 2021 – to be pursued in state civil court, regardless of how long ago the misconduct occurred. Until now, a sexual abuse survivor had only until their 28th birthday to initiate a civil claim for damages, blocking access to justice for many. Louisiana is now the 22nd state that allows a lookback period in these cases.

Elimination of Filing Deadlines Replaces Existing Requirement

The new law also strikes down a nearly 30-year-old provision that required a sexual abuse survivor to initiate a civil claim for damages by their 28th birthday. Now, survivors may file suit at any age.

This change is particularly significant because studies show the average age at which a childhood sexual assault survivor first reports the abuse is 52, far too late to pursue an action under the existing law. A prior version of the house bill set a deadline for survivors to file claims by their 53rd birthday, a concession the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops supported. However, when the proposed legislation reached the state senate, an amendment eliminated the statute of limitations for survivors to come forward with new claims that had not already expired.

Talk With a Lawyer Experienced in Bringing Sexual Abusers to Justice

It is a brighter day for people who endured sex abuse as children in Louisiana. Those adults and children who may be abused in the future will have expanded power to seek justice from their perpetrators and the churches, schools, youth athletic leagues, scout troops, medical facilities, and other organizations that enable the wrongdoing.

The caring and empathetic lawyers at the Lamothe Law Firm have substantial experience pursuing child sex assault cases. We fight to obtain justice and the best possible results for clients who suffer sexual trauma at any age.

If you or someone you love was sexually abused as a child by an employee of a church, healthcare provider, sports team, or school, please contact us today for a confidential consultation to discuss your situation.

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