law to unjustly deprive one of his remedy.”228 The legal system has struggled with finding a
balance between protecting the rights of defendants and accommodating the unique situation of
child abuse victims.229 The traditional interpretation of a SOL in civil cases is that the SOL does
not start to run until the act at issue is complete.230 In the context of child sexual abuse, this means
that the SOL does not start running until the abuse has stopped.231
The federal statute governing civil claims of childhood sexual abuse allows any person
who was subjected to sex trafficking, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution, among
other crimes related to the sexual abuse of children, as a minor, to bring a claim “in any
appropriate United States District Court.”232 This statute was amended in 2013 to extend the SOL
from six to ten years.233 Under the amended statute, if a person does not commence the action
within ten years after the “right of action first accrues,” the action will be barred.234
Although in recent years, a number of states have extended their SOLs for childhood
sexual abuse civil claims, the vast majority of states do impose a SOL on these civil claims.235
Illinois and Maine are the only states that do not have any SOL for civil claims.236 Four other
states and Guam have eliminated a SOL for civil claims for only certain types of childhood sexual
abuse.237 Florida, for example, has no civil SOL for sexual batteries committed against victims
under sixteen years old, while Connecticut has no civil SOL if the events forming the civil claim
led to conviction of first-degree aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault.238
When civil litigants bring a claim to court, they must present an argument about when the
SOL should begin and end in their case.239 Each state has its own set of laws regarding when the
SOL begins to run and when it ends.240 Proponents of the SOL reform argue that because victims
of childhood sexual abuse are in a unique situation, they merit specialized laws to address their
injuries.241 As of April 2014, seven additional states have some kind of a SOL reform pending in
their legislatures.242 It is clear that while some states have reformed their laws to account for the
unique nature of childhood sexual abuse, civil SOLs are still an obstacle that most survivors of
childhood sexual abuse must surmount to address the substantive piece of their claim against an
228 Id. at 398.
229 Id. at 397.
230 Id. at 398–99.
232 18 U.S.C.A. § 2255 (West 2014).
233 Id.; see Doe v. Schneider, No. CIV.A. 08-3805, 2013 WL 5429229, at *5 n.8 (E.D. Penn. Sept. 30, 2013) (noting that Congress
never explicitly made clear that this amendment should revive time-barred claims, therefore this court did not use it to do so).
234 18 U.S.C.A. § 2255.
235 HAMILTON & VERKUIL, supra note 12, § C; Marci A. Hamilton, 2013: The Year in Review for Child Sex Abuse Victims’ Access to
Justice, VERDICT (Jan. 9, 2014), http://verdict.justia.com/2014/01/09/2013-year-review-child-sex-abuse-victims-access-justice (noting
that Indiana, Minnesota, and Illinois revised their civil SOLs in 2013).
236 HAMILTON & VERKUIL, supra note 12, § C.
237 Id. § B.
239 See 91 AM. JUR. Trials 151 §§ 21–22 (2004).
240 Id. § 21.
241 Khorram, supra note 12, at 403–04; HAMILTON, supra note 4, at 19; Barb Ickes, Victim: Statute of Limitations Too Short in Iowa
and Illinois, QUAD-CITY TIMES (Nov. 30, 2013), http://qctimes.com/news/local/victim-statute-of-limitations-too-short-in-iowa-and-illinois/ article_17241fe7-147d-5080-9f77-c52b422c7a82.html.
242 HAMILTON & VERKUIL, supra note 12, §§ D, E. California has a bill extending both the civil SOL and the criminal SOL; Georgia
has a bill extending the civil SOL against perpetrators; Florida has a bill eliminating the criminal SOL for children over the age of
thirteen; Hawaii has three bills to eliminate the civil and criminal SOLs, as well as retroactively extend civil SOLs; Iowa has a bill
extending both criminal and civil SOLs; New York has a bill to eliminate the criminal and civil SOLs and create a one-year window to
bring expired claims for both; Pennsylvania has a bill eliminating civil and criminal SOLs and retroactively applying the civil SOL. Id.