President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill removing the statute of limitations for reporting child sexual abuse.
This new legislation will update current federal laws, which set the statute of limitation for child sexual abuse claims until the victim reaches the age of 28 or until ten years from the discovery of the offense.
The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2021 was first introduced by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, and Democratic Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.
“The statute of limitations for sexual abuse offenses should never prohibit young survivors from getting the justice they deserve,” Blackburn said. “The bipartisan effort to eliminate the civil child sexual abuse statute of limitations is a critical step to guarantee survivors their day in court.”
It unanimously passed the U.S. Senate earlier this year and was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.
“The science of trauma is clear: it often takes years for victims to come forward,” Durbin said in a statement after the legislation passed the House. . “Our bipartisan bill honors the basic notions of justice for survivors, and I was proud to work with Senator Blackburn and our colleagues in the House to lead it across the finish line. By signing this legislation into law, we can finally help survivors have their day in court and a moment of healing—when they are ready.”
Its passing will impact crime reports going forward as well as any reports that would have reached the statute of limitations under previous law.
Under current federal law, no statute of limitations bars the prosecution of criminal offenses involving child sex abuse anytime while the child victim is alive or ten years after the offense, whichever is later. However, statutes of limitations remain an obstacle for survivors under the federal civil remedy statute.
While Congress in 2018 lengthened the SOL for federal civil child sex abuse claims until the victim reached age 28 or until ten years from the discovery of the violation or injury, this SOL still does not reflect the current state of research on delayed disclosure. Under the bill that the President signed, statutes of limitation will no longer serve as a bar to claims brought by survivors of child sex abuse under the federal civil remedy statute.