Attorneys as Gatekeepers to the Court: The Potential Liability of Attorneys Bringing Suits Based on Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse

64 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2012

See all articles by Cynthia Grant Bowman

Cynthia Grant Bowman

Cornell University - Law School

Elizabeth Mertz

University of Wisconsin - Madison; American Bar Foundation

Date Written: January 1, 1998

Abstract

This Article examines the appropriate role of attorneys as gate­ keepers to the courts in suits involving recovered memories of child­ hood sexual abuse. Lawsuits brought by adults claiming that they had been sexually abused during childhood, but had forgotten the abuse until it emerged sometime later, are a relatively recent phenomenon. They surfaced only after the "discovery" of childhood sexual abuse and its construction as a social problem in the 1970s and 1980s and became feasible only when the legal system responded by extending the statutes of limitations applicable to such cases. Although many highly­ publicized cases have involved multiple victims who are young boys (in cases of sexual abuse by clergy, for example), others present the archetypal incest situation, shrouded in silence and involving a single, intra­family victim.

Keywords: Recovered memories, Child sexual abuse

Suggested Citation

Bowman, Cynthia Grant and Mertz, Elizabeth Ellen, Attorneys as Gatekeepers to the Court: The Potential Liability of Attorneys Bringing Suits Based on Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse (January 1, 1998). Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 2, 1998, Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-50, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2126568

Cynthia Grant Bowman (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Elizabeth Ellen Mertz

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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