Statute of limitations dictate the maximum amount of time after an incident for an individual to bring forth legal proceedings. As lawyers, we are trained day-in and day-out to be cognizant of that specific date, whether it comes in one year, two years, four years and so on. But, another group of Pennsylvanians are also intimately familiar with those three words, and how final they can be—survivors of sexual assault.
While the statute of limitations for sexual assault in Pennsylvania has been of major concern for years to survivors and their advocates, it did not draw public attention until the release of the two-year (2016-2018) grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children within six dioceses of the Catholic church. In 2018, at the time of the release of the grand jury report, if sexual abuse had occurred below age 18, the victim would have until the age of 30 to bring a claim. Adult sexual abuse, that is if the assault occurred when the victim was 18 years old or older, the victim had two years from the date of the assault to file a claim. You might ask why this is not enough time? Why do these victims need more time to bring claims than say, your client that was injured in a motor vehicle crash?
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