How To Seek Justice as an Adult If You Experienced Sex Abuse as a Youth
More than 42 million Americans have experienced sexual abuse; many survivors were abused when they were younger than 18. Child sex abuse affects children of all demographics and genders — 1 in 10 children will experience sexual violence before turning 18. Almost all sex abuse victims know their offenders, and many are victimized by those who are supposed to keep them safe. Predators employed by schools and places of worship often use their positions of authority to harm the children who trust them. Of those who do come forward, some wait decades. Delayed disclosure is common among child sex abuse victims, and one study found that the average age for reporting sex abuse is 52 years old.
Unfortunately, the court system doesn’t always account for the psychological trauma that sex abuse survivors experience. Many states have statutes of limitations that restrict when survivors can file lawsuits against their offenders and the organizations that shielded the predators from accountability.
In 2021, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill that signaled a victory for sex abuse survivors and victim advocates. Historically, Louisiana sex abuse victims were required to file lawsuits before they turned 28, even though statistics show that most survivors don’t disclose their abuse until they are middle-aged. The law also created a sex abuse “lookback window” that gives victims until June 14, 2024, to file a civil lawsuit. Those previously unable to file a Louisiana sex abuse lawsuit because of the statute of limitations now have a second chance. Adult victims can sue organizations like the Louisiana Catholic Diocese, schools, and churches even if they previously ran out of time.
Louisiana Sex Abuse Lookback Window
In recent years, lookback laws have become common around the country. Sexual abuse is distinctive because of how it affects victims and how rarely it results in criminal prosecution. Less than one percent of sexual offenders serve time in jail. Survivors may hesitate to report the crime because they fear no one will believe them. They may also struggle with guilt and falsely believe they were responsible for the predator’s behavior.
Lookback windows are designed to account for the nature of sex crimes and how survivors may respond. They effectively remove the limits that a victim faces when deciding to come forward and allow older victims of child sex abuse to seek justice, even if it’s been decades since the crime happened. Dozens of states have implemented these laws in recent years.
What To Do After Child Sex Abuse
If you experienced sexual abuse as a minor and want justice, you have various options. Louisiana criminal statute of limitations allows 30 years after a victim’s 18th birthday to press charges for child sex crimes. If you are interested in pursuing criminal charges, you can file a police report. A law enforcement officer will interview you to get the necessary details before opening an investigation. They will determine whether there’s probable cause to arrest the perpetrator.
In criminal court, a prosecutor must prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt — or in layperson’s terms, that the only reasonable explanation based on the evidence presented is that the defendant committed the crime. This is the highest burden of proof in court, and it can be challenging to secure a guilty verdict many years after a crime is committed. In some cases where a crime is reported decades later, a predator dies before they can be held accountable.
Civil sex abuse cases have a lower burden of proof, known as the preponderance of the evidence. A plaintiff must only prove that it is more likely than not that their claims are true. It is often easier to win a civil sex abuse lawsuit than a criminal case. Additionally, civil cases allow victims an opportunity to hold the organizations and institutions that failed them accountable.
How To Seek Justice for Louisiana Sex Abuse
The Louisiana lookback window law passed unanimously but now faces a legal challenge. Later this year, the Louisiana Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case opposing the constitutionality of the legislation. Other states have found that lookback windows are constitutional, but this case could affect future sex abuse lawsuits if the Court rules that the law cannot stand. If you experienced sexual abuse as a youth in Louisiana, it’s essential to consult with a Louisiana sex abuse attorney as soon as you can.
The lookback window will end on June 14, 2024, and is quickly approaching. You should take advantage of the unique opportunity to seek justice regardless of when the sexual abuse occurred. You could receive compensation for medical bills, mental healthcare expenses, pain and suffering, and more. Call our firm at 844-943-7626 or contact us online to schedule a no-obligation consultation.