Michigan lawmakers have once again introduced bipartisan legislation to revamp the state’s statute of limitations in civil sexual abuse cases and implement a temporary filing window for previously barred claims, giving survivors more time and new opportunities to sue their abusers and any institutions that failed to protect them.
The legislative package, introduced earlier this year, has several key components. If passed, the measures would:
- Expand the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits, allowing victims who were abused as minors to file claims until the age of 52. Currently, the law gives survivors of child sexual abuse until the age of 28, or within three years from the date they discover they were assaulted, to file claims.
- Create a temporary 2-year lookback window for survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.
- Remove immunity protections for government agencies, allowing survivors to sue and hold government institutions accountable when the agency or its employees knew or should have known about abuse, but failed to prevent it.
The types of legal amendments proposed by Michigan lawmakers are part of a growing trend that recognizes and accounts for the profound challenges sexual abuse survivors face when it comes to processing their abuse and stepping forward to seek justice. According to research, sexual abuse victims often keep trauma to themselves, and many don’t come forward until much later in their lives.
In addition to providing survivors with more time to file claims, Michigan’s package of proposed laws would also create a “Survivors Bill of Rights,” that would, among other things, require survivors to be informed of their right to access advocates, counselors, and other support during the reporting process.
Michigan’s Sex Abuse Proposals Introduced After High-Profile Scandals
This isn’t the first time Michigan lawmakers have moved to expand opportunities for justice for sexual abuse survivors. In 2018, the state increased the statute of limitations in civil sexual assault and abuse cases to 28 years of age following the conviction of Larry Nassar, who abused hundreds of female athletes at Michigan State University. Similarly, Dr. Robert Anderson sexually abused over 1000 victims at the University of Michigan, resulting in a settlement of $490 million.
With these major sex abuse scandals occurring in Michigan, advocates and lawmakers are now pushing for even greater expansions in the laws, not only because of growing research into the effects of sexual abuse and delayed discovery but also because of growing awareness of major sexual abuse scandals involving children.
This includes rampant child sexual abuse within the Michigan Catholic Church, and a series of investigations that have found that hundreds of children in the state were abused by clergy members. Many of these child victims repressed memories of their abuse for decades before they were able to process and understand what happened to them later in life.
Levy Konigsberg: Leaders in Sexual Abuse Litigation
Our sexual abuse team at Levy Konigsberg is trusted by clients and colleagues across the country to handle the most difficult cases. Comprised of award-winning attorneys, we’ve represented survivors in claims against the Catholic Church, government entities, universities, and other powerful institutions that failed to protect victims from abuse or took concerted efforts to cover it up.
We are actively tracking the pending legislation in Michigan and are available to speak with survivors about their options for filing claims – whether under current statutes of limitations or potentially under the new expanded law and lookback window.
Call (800) 315-3806 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.