A victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse, which occurred when the person was an infant (i.e., under the age of 18), can now bring a personal action for damages against the perpetrator or any person or entity that aided, abetted, or concealed the sexual assault or sexual abuse up to 18 years after the victim reaches the age of 18.
For example, if a victim was sexually abused when he or she was 10 years old, then that victim would now be able to bring a civil claim for damages against the perpetrator at any time up to 18 years after the victim reaches the age of 18. Stated otherwise, the victim would have up to his or her 36th birthday to bring such a civil claim.
The new law is intended to address those situations where minor victims do not disclose the sexual abuse or sexual assault until later on in life. Delayed disclosure is actually quite common in sexual abuse or sexual assault cases. One report shows that 57.5% of minor victims waited more than five years to disclose the abuse or assault.
There are many reasons why minor victims wait to disclose the tragic events, including:
- Fear and threats
- Not knowing who to tell
- Worry about being believed
Previously, the statute of limitations was four years after the minor reached the age of majority.