While several institutions within the state are being forced to confront their history of sexual abuse, including the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and Boy Scouts of America, the Louisiana legislature finds itself not only implementing new laws on the matter but also having to go back and clarify the laws.
Last year the Louisiana legislature passed House Bill 492 to give adult victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to take legal action against the abuser. It was a piece of legislation that received support from a coalition of people abused by Catholic priests, their lawyers, and a national advocacy group for child protection laws.
However, after HB 492 became law, there was pushback from insurance companies, lobbyists, and attorneys defending alleged abusers. Therefore, the Louisiana Legislature sent a new bill, House Bill 402, to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk, which he signed into law on June 10.
Last year’s bill established a three-year “lookback window” that would allow adult victims who had not spoken out against their abusers when they were younger to come forward and file a lawsuit up until mid-2024. It not only applies to sexual abuse but also physical abuse, sex trafficking, and other mistreatments of minors.
However, critics argued against some of the claims brought into the court system under the lookback window. Their argument was that according to HB 492, which references a 1993 statute, the legal window only applied to abuse in the last 29 years.
Since HB 492 became law last summer, Louisiana judges have made different decisions on the argument that it could only be used for cases after 1993. In one case, a judge in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court dismissed a lawsuit against a Catholic high school in New Orleans because the abuse happened before 1993. However, in another case, a judge for the 15th Judicial District Court in Lafayette allowed an abuse case dating back to 1961 to proceed despite the Catholic Church’s stand.
The Louisiana House and Senate responded to the confusion by unanimously approving House Bill 402, clarifying that no matter how long ago the abuse took place, or the victim’s current age, a victim of childhood sexual abuse should have a chance to sue over their alleged mistreatment until the June 2024 deadline.
Louisiana Sex Abuse Legal Help
It is important for all individuals who have been sexually abused in the past, no matter how old they are now or when the abuse took place, to know that the “lookback window” is in place until June 14, 2024. Victims of Louisiana sexual abuse who were previously not ready to report the crime or unable to file a lawsuit now have a limited opportunity to seek justice in a court of law.
While reliving the memory of being sexually abused is difficult, the benefits of filing a Louisiana sex abuse lawsuit against the abuser is a brave decision that can help the person filing the lawsuit and other people who were abused. The attorneys at Herman Herman & Katz advocate on behalf of all sexual abuse victims. Contact us online or call 844-943-7626 for a free, confidential case review.
Jed Cain is a partner with Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC. He has dedicated his career to representing injured folks and their families.