B. Other Methods of Reform
State legislatures are using a variety of methods to allow victims of childhood sexual
abuse to find legal relief. They have taken actions ranging from reforming the SOLs and enacting
window legislation for bringing previously-expired claims, to creating legislation that applies
retroactively.243 Some states have chosen to accommodate victims of childhood sexual abuse by
allowing for delayed discovery.244 States that recognize delayed discovery in civil cases
acknowledge that the SOL should begin running at the time at which the victim realized he or she
experienced childhood sexual abuse.245 This would apply in situations where the child represses
memories of abuse and only later in life recalls these situations, where the victim did not realize
the abuse was wrong until later, and where the victim did not connect injuries to previous
abuse.246 Proponents argue that it is excusable for children who have been abused to forget the
abuse for a period of time and these children should not be held accountable for failing to bring
their claims earlier.247 Nine states currently allow for repressed memory to control the SOL.248
These states recognize that the SOL often expires during a period of time when the memory of
abuse is completely repressed by the victim, and the SOL should therefore only begin to run
when the victim consciously remembers the experience.249 Other states account for situations of
duress in which the victim remained under the abuser’s control and therefore could not bring a
claim.250 Thus, the legislation reforming the SOL or creating delayed discovery extends to
instances of abuse that occurred before the enactment of this new legislation.251
Similar to this retroactive legislation is another type of legislation states are using—
window legislation—to address claims of childhood sexual abuse. Window legislation amounts to
a temporary suspension of the SOL, allowing victims to bring time-barred claims against their
abusers during a short, statutorily-created period of time.252 The window opens the state’s courts,
usually for a period of one to two years, to civil claims of childhood abuse that would otherwise
not be viable.253 Both California and Delaware have enacted this type of law.254 The California
legislation created a one-year window in which victims of child sexual abuse could bring a claim
against their abusers.255 While the window legislation was in effect in California, over 1000
claims were brought against individual abusers and institutions such as the Catholic Church and
Boy Scouts of America.256 As a result of these new claims, three hundred individual abusers were
identified.257 Advocates of a SOL reform reason that window legislation is the only way for
victims who have expired claims of childhood sexual abuse to find justice.
243 HAMILTON, supra note 4, at 15. Window legislation is a temporary suspension of the SOL to allow victims to bring time-barred
claims against their abusers during a short, statutorily created period of time. Id. at 40. For example, California created a window of
time in which victims of childhood sexual abuse could bring time-barred claims for a period of one year. Id. at 41.
244 Khorram, supra note 12, at 400–01.
245 Id.; HAMILTON, supra note 4, at 39–40.
246 Khorram, supra note 12, at 401–02.
247 Id. at 402.
248 91 AM. JUR. Trials 151 § 21 n.4 (2004) (California, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and
249 Id. § 22.
251 Miller, supra note 14, at 600.
252 HAMILTON, supra note 4, at 40–41.
254 Id. at 41–42; CAL. CIV. PROC. CODE § 340.1(c) (West 2003); DEL. CODE. ANN. tit. 10, § 8145(b) (West 2014).
255 Miller, supra note 14, at 609; CAL. CIV. PROC. CODE § 340.1(c).
256 HAMILTON, supra note 4, at 71–72; Miller, supra note 14, at 609. The results of California’s window legislation will be discussed
further in Part IV-C.
257 HAMILTON, supra note 4, at 72.