Just after 12 a.m. on August 1, Lamothe Law Firm, LLC filed their first child sexual abuse claims under Louisiana’s House Bill 492. The new law extends the state’s statute of limitations and provides a three-year window for survivors of child sexual and physical abuse to file civil claims, even if the claim was previously time-barred. Before H.B. 492 went into effect August 1, survivors had until age 28 to file in most cases.
The lookback window provides a critical, and likely once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice in Louisiana, regardless of when their abuse occurred. For many survivors, the window will be their only chance to ever seek justice and hold their abusers and the institutions that enabled their abuse accountable.
“Given that most survivors do not come forward until much later in life, usually in their 50s, this law provides a much-needed path to justice,” said Lamothe firm founder Frank E. Lamothe, III, who has spent his career representing sexual abuse survivors. “This 3-year window is the only chance many of them will have to be heard.”
Lamothe client John Lousteau is seizing the opportunity to hold the Brothers of The Holy Cross Schools accountable for abuse he says he endured during childhood. The after effects of the abuse led to Lousteau needing medication to manage his anxiety and what he said has been a “dumpster fire, train wreck” of a life when interviewed by Nola.com. Lousteau was also interviewed by David Hammer and featured on WWL-TV telling his story.
In early 2020, Lousteau sought representation from Lamothe, divulging the details of his trauma for the first time in his life. He agreed in good faith to be interviewed by the Holy Cross’ legal counsel who had indicated the order would pay for treatment from a therapist of Lousteau’s choosing. Despite the finding, the Holy Cross’ counsel stopped responding to Lamothe’s correspondence, including numerous letters, phone calls and repeated emails informing them of his choice of therapist. No payment was offered to facilitate the therapy.
“It’s like they (gave) up … and (were) just going to try to push this one back under the rug,” Lousteau said.
“Our client was retraumatized by the Brothers after he had the courage to come forward, which only perpetuated the untold psychological and emotional damage he had already suffered,” said Lamothe trial attorney Kristi S. Schubert, who is also representing Lousteau. “And because of the statute of limitations, John had no recourse even though the order had promised to make restitution but failed to follow through. It was a horrible situation that, thankfully, can now be addressed due to the new law.”
Given the new law will only allow these historic claims for three years, child sexual abuse survivors wanting to bring a case are advised to consider coming forward soon. If you or someone you love was sexually abused as a child by an employee of a church, healthcare provider, sports team, school, or other organization, please contact us today for a confidential consultation to discuss your situation. We are committed to providing supportive, sensitive representation to survivors.