New Federal Law Could Be First Step in Child Safety, Legislative Reform

On Friday, September 16th, President Joe Biden signed a bill that will eliminate the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse. This is a solid next step in federal child safety and legislative reform.

Although not perfect, the “Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022” does begin the hard work of real reform to protect children from sexual exploitation and violence.

What the bill does do:

  • The “Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022” removes the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and exploitation going forward. That means that any child who is the victim of sexual abuse and exploitation from the day the bill is signed (or any child who has an active statute on the date the bill is enacted) has NO TIME LIMIT to come forward under federal law.
  • The law applies to survivors of many different crimes of child sexual abuse and exploitation, including, but not limited to, sexual abuse, forced labor, sex trafficking, crossing state lines to engage with a child under 12, and child sexual abuse images (child pornography)

What the bill does not do:

  • The “Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022” is not retroactive. This means that for the vast majority of survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation, this law, if signed, would not apply. For a survivor to be eligible under the law, the survivor must have a viable cause of action on the day that the law is enacted.
  • Help survivors whose statute of limitations has already passed, even though they may have evidence to prove the crime.
  • The new law would not affect the federal criminal statute of limitations.
  • On its face, the new law applies old laws that have historically been used against individual defendants. It will be very challenging, if not impossible, to sue institutions that knew about the abuse and covered it up, such as the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, public and private schools, etc.
  • Force accountability from the institutions that are responsible for keeping our children safe.
  • The “Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022” does not change current state law regarding the liability of institutions for sexual abuse.

You can help make this bill—and stronger ones—pass into law by writing your legislators, including the president, and telling them about the importance of legislative reform to child safety.

If you think this bill may impact your legal options, we recommend connecting with an attorney with successful, long-time experience in civil child sexual abuse legal cases. Every survivor deserves to know what their legal options are, so they can feel empowered in their choices.