Getting the Language Right

In a recent email circulated among advocates on this issue, it was suggested that one version of the legislation to extend the statute of limitations had the potential to limit the ‘delayed discovery rule’.

Under the delayed discovery rule (quoting the mail which has circulated):

the three-year clock does not begin to run until the victim “discovers” the causal relationship between past child abuse and current emotional or psychological injuries. This moment of “discovery” for many victims does not occur until well into adulthood, long after the three-year
statute of limitations has expired.

Speaking for myself and I am sure for the lead sponsors of the bill it is not the intention of the sponsors to alter or diminish that important protection for victims. The intention is to:

  • preserve the protection offered by the delayed discovery rule;
  • extend the basic time that childhood victims have to sue from age 21
    to age 55;
  • make that basic extension retroactive, so that people under 55 at the time of the legislation whose claims might have expired due to age can bring them as if the legislation had always been in effect;
  • to give victims over 55 at the time of the legislation an additional window of one year to bring their claims, which window should not diminish rights under the delayed discovery rule.

We look forward to working with advocates for victims to make sure that our intentions are in fact reflected in the technical language of the bill and we welcome any thoughts for correction if necessary. A good time for further discussion of this issue will occur at the hearing on May 7.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

One reply on “Getting the Language Right”

  1. Thank you Anne, Senator Brownsberger and Representative Lawn!!! Many Kudos from all of us that are abuse victims and survivors!! I think I can safely speak for the group of us. This should put the ‘thoughts about the SOL bills’ back into the forefront of the minds of the Speaker and President so that they may push the bills forward. Is there anything that we can do as survivors that may be recommended to ‘push’ the issues onto the floor? Do you think we need another session with them to reiterate what was already said or a sit in at the state house? You all would know best on what will help as what we have been doing as advocates has not faired the results we want. We need a new approach and any and all ideas are welcome!! Hopefully, the letter will be enough to push the bills out of committee and to the floor. Thanks again for what you have done to help so far. Warmest regards, Beth Donahue
    For anyone that is looking to get in touch with me, I don’t have my computer running and had to change my phone number. If you want to get in touch with me, email me at or call me at 321-480-6218.

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