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Podcast: Statute of Limitations Reform with Judie Saunders and Child USA’s Marci Hamilton

Jun 20, 2023

“The truth really will bring down to size the bullies that insist on trying to keep us in our place.”

In a recent episode of her “Legally Brief” podcast, ASK LLP’s Judie A. Saunders sits down with Prof. Marci Hamilton, attorney, and CEO of non-profit Child USA, chronicling her professional journey from Supreme Court Clerk to challenging powerful institutions in court over clergy sexual abuse claims. Marci is a leading expert on clergy sex abuse and child sex abuse statutes of limitation (SOL) and is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect its Children, in which she makes the case for SOL reform.

Reforming State Statutes of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse is a “Passion Project”

Marci refers to her work to end the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse as her “passion project,” noting that “Perpetrators are being cloaked in anonymity” through restrictive criminal and civil SOLs. In recent years, there has been some progress on this front. Several states have passed laws extending or eliminating the SOL for child sexual abuse cases, and there has been a growing awareness of the need for systemic change in the way that the legal system handles these cases. 2023 reform highlights include:

Arkansas: Eliminated the civil SOL for sexual abuse of minors and adults with disabilities and opened a 2-year revival window.

Kansas: Extended the civil SOL for CSA and CSAM to age 31 or 3 years after a criminal conviction.

Maryland: Eliminated the civil SOL for sexual abuse of a minor.

North Dakota: Extended the civil SOL for CSA for minors abused while under age 15, to age 36, and for minors abused at age 15 or older, to 21 years after the abuse.

Visit Child USA’s website for a full list of new SOL reform laws and a national overview of state Statutes of Limitations.

Challenging Constitutional Protections for Abusive Institutions

There is still much work to be done. Too many survivors continue to be silenced or ignored by a legal system that fails to prioritize their needs and rights.

Statute of limitation reform is a critical part of the fight to empower survivors of sexual abuse to access justice. Marci has been challenging constitutional protections for abusive institutions for over 25 years, telling Judie that “It’s been my view — regardless of the power that some of these men hold, the truth still takes them down. That, I think, is what … every woman needs to understand.” Listen to the full interview on Apple Podcasts.