The Louisiana newspaper The Advocate recently published Lamothe Law Firm attorney Kristi Schubert’s letter to the editor regarding holding sexual abusers and their enabling institutions accountable for the damage they have done to individuals and to society at large. Here’s The Law for Survivors’ Lawsuits Helps Curb Abuses as published by the Baton Rouge Advocate on March 14, 2022:
When Act No. 322 passed last year, it created a three-year “lookback window” in Louisiana which allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. Previously, they only had until age 28 to file. The new law recognizes the well-proven fact that most sexual abuse survivors don’t come forward until their 50s.
Allowing survivors to pursue action in civil court benefits all citizens of Louisiana because it shifts the economic burden of the effects of child abuse from survivors and taxpayers onto the abusers and the institutions that harbored them.
That economic burden is enormous — $9.3 billion nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Sexual abuse can cause permanent physical changes to chidren’s developing brains, which profoundly affects their adult lives. They are ten times more likely to use intravenous drugs, three times more likely to experience major depressive episodes, and 20 times more likely to attempt suicide. They often have difficulty holding jobs and are more likely to be incarcerated or institutionalized, resulting in increased costs to the state. They face huge medical bills for therapy and other abuse-related medical treatment. If they cannot afford to pay them, the taxpayers often foot the bill.
Act No. 322 shifts these costs back onto the abusers and those who knowingly or negligently enabled the abuse. It also creates a pathway toward justice for potentially thousands of Louisianans who have lived their lives coping with the effects of the trauma.
As an attorney who has represented many sexual abuse survivors, I have seen first-hand the tremendous healing that civil lawsuits can bring to survivors. But this new law is not just about healing survivors’ wounds — it’s also about holding the abusers and enabling institutions accountable for the damage they have done to society at large.