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Sexual abuse can happen to a person of any age, gender or sexual orientation. It can also be perpetrated by a person of any age, gender or sexual orientation.

Survivors of sexual abuse have options to get justice for their injuries. Survivors can choose to pursue the criminal justice system, civil justice system, both systems, or neither system.

We have the track record to back up our reputation for excellence. Read more about our outstanding verdicts and settlements, including many multimillion-dollar recoveries.

Statutes of Limitation for Sexual Abuse Crimes in Delaware

There are limited periods of time during which a survivor may pursue justice in the justice systems.  In legal terms, this is called the statute of limitations.  The time period depends upon whether you are pursuing relief in the criminal or civil justice system, and also depends upon the basis for the relief you seek.

Where a survivor seeks relief through the civil justice system, they or their parent or guardian, may be able to pursue a civil claim against the wrongful parties or the institutions, agencies, corporations, or businesses that protected the conduct based upon limitations set forth in Title 10, Section 81 of the Delaware Code. The time period for all personal injury claims in Delaware, which include sexual assault and abuse, is two years from the date of the wrongful act.  However, since 2007, there has been an important exception for minors (under the age of 18) who have been sexually abused by an adult.  Any minor sexually abused by an adult after 2007 has an unlimited period of time to file a claim to seek justice in the civil system.  Advocates continue to work to extend the statute of limitations to address issues unique to victims of sexual assault and abuse, such as memory suppression.

As an example of a more expansive statute of limitations, New Jersey recently increased the statute of limitations for sexual assault, which includes sexual abuse, but is not limited to that narrow definition.  Under the law, which became effective in March 2019, all victims of sexual assault have seven years  to pursue civil action against the person  who harmed them.  Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse have until they turn 55 years old, or seven years after they discover that the trauma has caused them financial harm.  The law also reopens the limitations period for an additional two years for people who may have previously been time barred from filing a civil lawsuit, which will run until November 30, 2021.

Many other states are also addressing this issue, and we expect this area of the law to continue to evolve.  Philip Edwards and Lauren Cirrinicione, of Murphy & Landon, are members of the National Crime Victim’s Bar Association which advocates for the rights of crime victims.  For additional information about resources available to crime victims see: https://victimbar.org/available-resources/.

Seeking Justice for Crime Victims, Including Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Human Trafficking

Murphy & Landon has a dedicated team of attorneys and paralegals who proudly represent crime victims and survivors of sexual abuse in direct claims against their perpetrators (criminal perpetrators of sexual abuse).  We also pursue claims against negligent third-party defendants, including massage spas, churches, schools and businesses.

Direct claims may be made against third party entities, non-profits, and businesses where there is proof of negligence by the organization. Proof that others hid the abuse or protected the abuser may lead to civil liability for bad actors and the organizations that employ them.  Sexual predators often thrive in places where they can hide; and no business is immune.

Survivors of sexual abuse have the right to pursue claims in both the criminal and civil justice systems.  Each system provides a different remedy for the survivor.  The criminal justice system is focused upon punishing the abuser, while the civil justice system focuses upon restitution in the form of financial compensation for the survivor.  A survivor is not limited to pursuing their abuser in one justice system.  Because the requirements for proof are not the same in both systems, a criminal finding of guilt is not necessary for a survivor to pursue a civil claim.

Our compassionate team guides clients through the civil justice system.  We consult with and represent survivors who were abused as children.  We also consult with and represent survivors who were abused as adults.

We believe you and want to help you.  We understand that you may be experiencing a powerful range of emotions from shame to anger, and many in between. Know that you have not done anything wrong – and you did not do anything to deserve this.

If you are ready to speak with an attorney about taking power back by pursuing a claim in the civil justice system, contact our team at Murphy & Landon for a complimentary consultation.

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