Access to the Civil Court System for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse in Georgia: Observations and Recommendations from the Clinical Legal Education Experience
20 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2022
Date Written: April 5, 2019
Founded in January 2016, the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic (the CEASE Clinic) represents survivors of child sexual abuse in civil lawsuits and juvenile court dependency matters, and is the first of its kind in the nation. The CEASE Clinic actively follows legislative efforts in the state of Georgia to improve access to the courts for survivors of child sexual
abuse. Although the scope of the problem is broad, access to the civil justice system remains narrow for survivors and further improvements should be made to Georgia’s civil statute of limitations. Section II of this Article discusses the scope of the issue of child sexual abuse, including its prevalence, effects on survivors, repressed memory and delayed discovery, and financial consequences. Section III discusses the history of the statute of limitations in the state of Georgia for civil claims arising out of acts of child sexual abuse. Section IV explores the impact of Georgia's Hidden Predator Act of 2015, which created a retroactive window under which survivors could bring claims against perpetrators, as well as opposition to proposed legislative changes and going forward, such as constitutional challenges and concerns over the floodgates of litigation. Finally, Section V will discuss the possibility of new legislation by looking at model statutes enacted in other states. Section VI concludes.
Keywords: child sexual abuse, tort, civil lawsuit, statute of limitations
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