For nearly two years, many D.C. child sexual abuse survivors have been able to file claims against their abusers under the “look back” window. Survivors have filed lawsuits against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, school districts and other institutions where sexual abuse was rampant.
However, the deadline to file these claims is quickly approaching. Once expired, many survivors of abuse will lose the ability to seek justice through the legal system.
Survivors in Washington, D.C. need to act quickly to seek compensation for any physical, financial and emotional losses.
The District of Columbia’s legal “look back” window closes on May 2, 2021.
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The Nationwide Need For Legislative Reform
Evidence shows the majority of child sexual abuse survivors will wait until adulthood to report their abuse. Historically, by the time many survivors report their abuse, the legal deadline to file a claim against their abuser has passed.
Lawmakers across the country recognized the limitations of these legal deadlines. Thus, many states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to extend the time a sexual abuse survivor has to seek legal action.
Sexual Abuse Statute Of Limitations Act Of 2018
In Washington, D.C., lawmakers passed the Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Act of 2018. The Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Act of 2018 expands the rights of sexual abuse survivors in three ways.
- The law extends the civil statute of limitations for survivors in Washington, D.C.
- The law extends the criminal statute of limitations for survivors in Washington, D.C.
- The law opened a two-year, retroactive “look back” window for survivors in Washington, D.C.
D.C.’s Child Sexual Abuse “Look Back” Window
Although D.C. lawmakers extended the legal deadlines for child sex abuse offenses, these new statutes don’t apply to every victim. Many older survivors of abuse are still time-barred under the new deadlines.
To help more sexual abuse survivors, D.C. lawmakers opened the retroactive “look back” window. Many other states have used similar windows to give abuse survivors a second opportunity at justice.
D.C. “Look Back” Window Limitations
The Washington, D.C. “look back” window has some restrictions that other state windows do not have.
The D.C. window does not revive all claims of child sexual abuse like the New York Child Victims Act. But, it does revive many expired civil abuse claims under the previous statute.
Those who are eligible to file a revived claim under the D.C. “look back” window include:
- Adults under the age of 40
- Adults of any age who discovered their abuse in the last five years
The D.C. “look back” window opened on May 3, 2019. The legal window will close on May 2, 2021.
ChildUSA. (2020, August 3). Survivor Tool Kit [PDF].
Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018, D.C. Act 22-593 (District of Columbia 2019).