The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Scotland Act 2017 retrospectively abolished the three year ‘time bar’ rule for personal injury claims arising from childhood abuse in Scotland but retained defences in the Act on ‘fair hearing’ and on ‘substantial prejudice’.
Florida’s statute of limitations is not clear cut and is difficult to navigate. In 2010, the state abolished the criminal statute of limitations for cases involving sexual battery (rape) against children. However, this only applies to cases where the child was under 16 years old, and limitation had not already expired on 1 July 2010. Prior to this law’s enactment, the limitations period varied.
New legislation has been proposed which, if enacted, could pave the way for a state-operated fund in the state of New York. It is anticipated that the fund would be used by victims and survivors pursuing child abuse claims, as well as non-profit organisations that help survivors in doing so.
The Catholic Church in France announced on 9 November that abuse victims will receive financial compensation, following similar moves in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.
French Bishops voted at The Bishops’ Conference on 9 November in favour of a plan to offer payments to people who were sexually abused when they were children by French members of the Catholic clergy. It was agreed the church would make one-off payments to each victim. The payments are not a substitute for compensation and are not a requirement of the French legal system or the church.
Whilst the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England & Wales focuses its attention on reviewing legal processes available to deliver reparation to victims and survivors of abuse, and in particular to consider whether the law (such as the statute of Limitations) should be changed, we can see the impact a change in the law can have in other jurisdictions.
In the US, the start of the academic year is called the “red zone”, as more than 50% of sexual assaults are said to occur between August and November. These assaults are under-reported and, until recently, have not always been properly investigated. Criminal prosecutions of rape and sexual assault cases occurring on campus are rare and universities have been accused of protecting those accused of sexual assault, including athletes.
Last month, 38 former students of Yeshiva University High School for Boys in New York City filed a lawsuit against the school alleging systematic sexual abuse by Rabbi George Finkelstein, Rabbi Macy Gordon and Richard Andron, during the mid-50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. 34 of the plaintiffs (known as claimants in English law) tried to sue Yeshiva University High School for Boys in 2013, however their actions failed in 2014 when a New York District Court Judge ruled that their claims were time barred.
Following on from our blog last week dealing with the sexual abuse of children in Europe, there have been further developments in France, where French surgeon Joël Le Scouarnec is currently being investigated in relation to the alleged rape of two girls, aged four and six in Western France.
Le Scouarnec denies raping the girls but his lawyers have indicated that he has admitted to “deviant behaviour” with them. He is currently remanded in custody with the criminal trial scheduled to proceed before the end of the year.
Judge Richard Berman presiding over the Jeffrey Epstein trial, took the unprecedented step on Tuesday (27 August) of allowing the victims and survivors, who accused the late Jeffrey Epstein of sexual offences, to make impact statements in the case against Epstein.
Federal prosecutors in the case required permission from the judge to drop the sex trafficking charges following Epstein’s death. The hearing was scheduled so that the victims and survivors could tell their stories before the case against Epstein was dismissed. Judge Berman, who is also a licensed social worker and has written a number of articles on child abuse and safeguarding, praised the complainants for having “the courage to come forward.”
The Victoria Court of Appeal yesterday rejected the appeal by Cardinal Pell against his convictions for sexual abuse against two boys in Melbourne in the 1990s.
Pell was sentenced to six years in prison in March 2019 on foot of these convictions. He has and continues to maintain his innocence.