Maine Lifts Statute Of Limitation On Child Sex Abuse Cases
As of today, Monday, October 19, 2021, there is no longer a statute of limitation on childhood sexual abuse cases in the state of Maine.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the statute of limitation, or SOL, is:
"The time in which a lawsuit is initiated by an injured person or victim. In most cases, it begins to run from the date of the occurrence that caused the injury."
The issue with SOLs, as you can imagine, is that it can often take time for young victims to even identify that they've been victimized, let alone come to terms well enough with that thought to take part in legal proceedings against their accused abuser. With a statute of limitation, the process of bringing a perpetrator to justice is sometimes limited or altogether prevented from happening because the SOL deadline is looming or has passed.
"Child victims frequently do not discover the relationship of their psychological injuries to the abuse until well into adulthood —usually during the course of psychological counseling or therapy. They may not even discover the fact of such abuse until they undergo such therapy."
According to the Associated Press, the law was updated about 20 years ago but was still limiting.
"Previously, survivors who experienced abuse before 1987 generally would not be able to file lawsuits. In 2000, Maine eliminated the statute of limitations for those lawsuits, but the policy was not retroactive, so victims whose claims had expired still could not bring them forward."
But this past June, Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed into law legislation that made the 2000 elimination of the SOL retroactive. This means that as of today, victims can now bring lawsuits based on older cases.
This allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to come forward on their terms and in their own time, to attempt to hold their abusers accountable for these actions.