Statute of Limitations in DC Sexual Abuse Cases

John Yannone, a sex abuse victims’ attorney in DC, answers questions about the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases and how the state of limitations is affected when the victim is a child.

Is There a Statute of Limitations For DC Sex Abuse Cases?

That varies. Many jurisdictions have extended the statute of limitations for sex abuse cases by the very nature of the fact that people repress it and don’t report it. For example, Virginia has a 20-year statute of limitations for any type of case having to do with sexual abuse. In other jurisdictions you have as little as two to three years to file the case but there’s a caveat to that: if the victim is a minor, which happens many times for these cases, then most jurisdictions will not start the clock for the statute of limitations until a certain period of time after their 18th birthday.

So it’s quite variable in terms of what the statute of limitations is based on jurisdiction and on whether or not the victim was a minor.

What If The Abuse Happened When The Individual Was a Child?

Well it’s not uncommon. Many people repress it and many people are embarrassed and don’t want to come forward. Many people just don’t process it in terms of what happened. Many times, it takes place over a number of years where the victim is groomed, and this relationship of grooming and power can go on for a while before there is abuse. So in many situations people do not come forward for many reasons, but that does not make it any less of a case. The more corroboration that you have that something occurred, the better, and waiting to come forward can make that more difficult. But again, these are all issues that can come up and it doesn’t make the case any less of a case.