In 1988, Legal Voice helped to pass the country’s first law to extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse survivors to pursue claims against those responsible for the abuse. This Washington law created a delayed discovery rule that allows the time limit for legal action to start at the point the victim discovers her injuries are a result of the abuse, instead of when she reaches 18 years of age. We later helped to enact similar laws in Montana, and now, we are defending those rights for survivors in Oregon.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, a juvenile probation officer employed by Josephine County, Oregon sexually abused and assaulted many boys. This man was responsible for setting the children he supervised on the right path, but he abused his power in terrible ways. What’s more, Josephine County officials allegedly received reports about suspected sexual abuse by the officer but failed to remove him from his position.
As is common with child sexual abuse survivors, many of the victims didn’t recognize the lasting injuries caused by the trauma of the abuse until they were adults. But when nine adult survivors brought claims against the County in federal court, the trial court dismissed their claims on the grounds that they should have recognized their injuries and the County’s potential responsibility sooner.
We believe the trial court failed to properly apply the discovery rule in this case. That is why Legal Voice filed an amicus brief last week urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court’s decision. Our brief explains the complex and varied impacts that sexual assault has on victims, as well as the unique barriers that child sexual abuse survivors face in recognizing their injuries.
We will keep you updated as this appeal moves forward. And you can be sure that we will continue our work to ensure that all survivors of sexual violence are able to pursue justice.