By DAN FASY
It’s been happening around the country, most recently in Minnesota. States are revising statutes of limitation for civil cases, providing abuse survivors more options to pursue cases previously barred. Last month, the Minnesota state Senate passed a bill – as did the House – affirming that the opportunities for bringing civil cases involving child sexual abuse must be expanded. Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill into law May 24th.
The Minnesota Senate event was attended by a man named Joel Juers, an adult who was victimized as a child by a pedophile. He told reporters after the Senate vote:
“It was a powerful moment. There were so many positive emotions that I couldn’t even cry.”
The Minnesota new law is known as The Child Victims Act. When it became law, it altered, expanded, and in some cases eliminated a statute of limitations for civil suits charging child sexual abuse. This means that victims who were sexually abused when they were younger than 18 years old may commence a lawsuit for damages arising from the abuse at any time, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. Defendants in future cases, of course, likely will include church institutions and other well-known organizations.
The legislation also provides a three-year period, during which victims whose claims would have been time barred by the previous statute of limitations, to bring civil suits against alleged abusers.
We at Kosnoff Fasy have represented hundreds of victims of alleged child sexual abuse in cases involving the Catholic and Mormon churches and the Boy Scouts of America. And we will continue to take cases arising in Minnesota.
As for Joel Juers: He has become a name and face for the refusal to succumb to the challenges he has faced. The following excerpts are from a recent story by Rebecca Rodenborg in the Faribault (Minnesota) Daily News:
“The man previously only identified as ‘Joel’ in a story about alleged sex abuse at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in 1980 has now found a reason to come forward more publicly.“
Joel Juers was just 14 years old when he says he was sexually abused by now former . . . teacher Joseph Machlitt. He didn’t tell police until last fall, when he said he realized Machlitt was recently employed as a tutor for Hispanic students in Edina.
Now at the age of 47, Juers has no chance for justice against his alleged abuser. Criminal charges were dropped because the statute of limitations had expired.
“… Called the Minnesota Child Victims Act, [the legislation] would allow anyone who was sexually abused as a child to bring a civil lawsuit at any time against his or her abuser or the institution that facilitated the abuse — no matter how long ago it occurred.“
Advocates like Juers say the new law would encourage victims of child sex abuse to come forward and potentially identify abusers who have never been caught and are still abusing children.
Jeff Dion, deputy executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, offered this perspective:
“Pedophiles don’t retire. Even when it’s 30 years after the abuse, the perpetrator is still alive. Maybe they’re in a walker or a wheelchair, but they may still be molesting kids.”
And, we would add, even if they aren’t any longer sexually molesting children, they still must be brought into court and face justice in civil cases. Contact us at Kosnoff Fasy if you agree.
Our attorneys are highly experienced in child sexual abuse law and offer free initial consultations to potential clients. We are also willing to assist other attorneys in sexual abuse cases. Please call 206-257-3590, or email us directly. Conversations will be kept confidential, and even if you are unsure about a lawsuit, often we can direct you to the assistance you need. You will be treated with compassion and respect.
Toll free: 855-529-4274
Tim Kosnoff, direct: 425-837-9690
Dan Fasy, direct: 206-462-4338
Kara Tredway, direct: 206-453-0579
Kosnoff Fasy, Seattle office: 206-257-3590