Louisiana Supreme Court Grants Request to Revisit Controversial Ruling Striking Down Child Sex Abuse Survivors’ Second Chance at Justice

by Kristi S. Schubert

Today, May 10, 2024, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted pending requests to reopen and revisit its highly controversial ruling previously issued in Bienvenu v. Defendant 1, 2023-CC-1194 (La. 3/22/2024). The Bienvenu ruling, which was issued on March 22nd of this year, struck down as unconstitutional the Louisiana Lookback Window1 which had been passed unanimously by the legislature in 2021 and reaffirmed unanimously in 2022. The purpose of the widely praised Lookback Window had been to revive all previously time-barred childhood sexual abuse claims in Louisiana, thereby giving countless abuse survivors a second chance at justice and forcing child molesters to take responsibility for the harm that they have caused.

Attorney Kristi Schubert, of the Lamothe Law Firm, recalls that “when the Bienvenu ruling came out in March, there was an enormous public backlash. Abuse survivors felt that the Court had robbed them of their last chance for justice. And Louisiana citizens were outraged that the Court had granted child molesters an untouchable constitutional right to get away with child rape.”

Soon after Bienvenu was issued, the Louisiana Attorney General filed a powerful brief urging the Court to reverse the Bienvenu ruling. In their brief, the Attorney General warned that the Bienvenu ruling “threatens to collapse the separation of powers under the Louisiana Constitution” and that the majority’s opinion “is an open door for freewheeling judicial policymaking.” The Louisiana Legislature also reacted swiftly by introducing Senate Concurrent Resolution 26, which repudiates the Bienvenu ruling and clarifies that contrary to the Court’s ruling, child molesters do not have a “vested” property right to escape responsibility because the Louisiana Legislature has never given them any such property right. SCR 26 was passed unanimously in the Louisiana Senate and is expected to reach the House floor next week.

Attorney Frank Lamothe states that “I am hopeful that this means the Supreme Court realized their error in the original Bienvenu opinion and will finally restored the rights of survivors of sexual abuse to pursue their claims against their perpetrators and those who enabled them.”

Attorney Kristi S. Schubert adds that “The Court’s decision to rehear Bienvenu is exciting and encouraging news. Not only did the Court’s initial Bienvenu ruling do a great disservice to abuse survivors, it also destroyed a law that would have rooted out hidden child predators still within our midst today. A reversal of the initial Bienvenu ruling would make Louisiana a safer place for the children of today, and would go a long way towards showing the survivors of past abuse that their pain will no longer be ignored.”

LLF attorneys Frank Lamothe, Kristi Schubert and Julien Lamothe have extensive experience having represented hundreds of childhood sexual abuse survivors.

1 2022 Acts 386, Section 2, La. 2021 Acts 322, Section 2

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