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Robert S. Kelner and Gail S. Kelner

The sexual abuse of a child horrifies all of us. An act that destroys the innocence of childhood and inalterably damages the entire life of a young person should not go without compensation to the abused person and punishment of the offenders. Yet, because of its devastating nature and the frequent inability of the individual to either talk about it or fully process the horror of what occurred, such abuse has frequently gone unreported within the confines of the conventional statutes of limitations. It is also clear, as mental health professionals recognize, that victims of sexual abuse may experience anxiety, depression, addiction and other destabilizing conditions. It may take years for them to understand what happened to them and to come forward. Sadly, clients have told us that “shame” prevented them from timely reporting the abuse.

The time needed to emotionally process the abuse has frequently delayed the prosecution of civil and criminal actions, often beyond the existing statutes of limitations, leaving those injured without recourse. The news is replete with current articles reporting child sexual abuse which occurred years ago. For example, the New York Times reported on March 13, 2019, that George Pell, an Australian cardinal, was just sentenced in Melbourne, Australia for his conviction in December 2018 for abusing two 13-year-old boys in 1996, approximately 23 years ago. There were apparently also other undisclosed victims reported. There are many new reported incidents emerging of sexual abuse of students at elite private schools many years ago which are only being revealed now. Many of the claims are against serial offenders and often implicate institutions, as well as the individual pedophile.

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