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.