A statute of limitation (“SOL”) is a legal deadline for pressing criminal charges or filing civil claims. Once an SOL has expired, a claim or charge cannot be brought. The length of time during which different actions can be brought varies from state to state. There is no SOL for certain crimes, so actions can be brought at any time. An SOL for a civil lawsuit about a contract may be different from a lawsuit about a personal injury and both may be of varying durations between different states. SOLs can begin running at different times.
Many SOLs begin to run at the time of an offense. An SOL can be “tolled”, or suspended, and won’t begin running until a triggering event. In cases of childhood sexual abuse, an SOL will often be tolled until a minor turns 18 (i.e. majority tolling). Certain discoveries, such as a realization that a person’s suffering is the result of childhood sexual abuse, can toll an SOL (i.e. discovery tolling). Also, DNA evidence newly connecting a perpetrator to a crime can sometimes be used to prosecute a criminal defendant even after the SOL has already expired.
Some states have passed laws to increase access to justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse by temporarily reviving time-barred civil claims, allowing victims to recover against perpetrators and responsible institutions.
Child Sex Abuse Statutes of Limitation and Related Laws
Current Civil SOL
In Kentucky, the civil SOL for child sex abuse claims is capped at age 28 (age of majority, 18, plus 10 years), or within ten years of the victim discovering that they were abused, whichever is later.
SOL vs. perp.: + 10 years from majority = Age 28
SOL vs. employer: + 10 years from majority = Age 28
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Narrow
Age of Consent: 16
Kentucky State Law Provides:
Action relating to childhood sexual abuse or childhood sexual assault
(2) A civil action for recovery of damages for injury or illness suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse or childhoodsexual assault shall be brought before whichever of the following periods last expires:
(a) Within ten (10) years of the commission of the act or the last of a series of acts by the same perpetrator;
(b) Within ten (10) years of the date the victim knew, or should have known, of the act;
(c) Within ten (10) years after the victim attains the age of eighteen (18) years; or
(d) Within ten (10) years of the conviction of a civil defendant for an offense included in the definition of childhoodsexual abuse or childhood sexual assault.
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.249
Actions to be brought within one year
(1)(a) “The following actions shall be commenced within one (1) year after the cause of action accrued: (a) An action for an injury to the person of the plaintiff, or of her husband, his wife, child, ward, apprentice, or servant”
b. Roman Catholic Bishop of Louisville v. Burden, 168 S.W.3d 414, 417-418, 2004 Ky. App. LEXIS 351, 8-9 (Ky. Ct. App. 2004) (“Thus, it is clear that the focus of the General Assembly was on “victims” rather than those whom the “victims” might attempt to hold liable for abuse. However, the language of KRS 413.249, just as that used by the legislatures of Rhode Island, Colorado and California, appears to be directed at perpetrators and not third parties since it sets forth sexual offenses which a third party, such as a church or a school would be incapable of committing. Based on the foregoing, it is the Opinion of this Court that KRS 413.249 does not apply to the cases currently before the Court”)
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.140
The date the victim knew, or should have known, of the act. (versus perp) (statute applies vs perp only)
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.249(2)(b)
If a person entitled to bring any action mentioned in KRS 413.090 to 413.160, except for a penalty or forfeiture, was, at the time the cause of action accrued, an infant or of unsound mind, the action may be brought within the same number of years after the removal of the disability or death of the person, whichever happens first, allowed to a person without the disability to bring the action after the right accrued. (versus all defendants)
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.170(1)
The date the victim knew, or should have known, of the act (statute applies vs. perp only)
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 413.249(2)(b)
In the case sub judice, Secter does not allege memory loss and was aware of his injury (being sexually abused) within one year of his reaching the age of majority. Thus, his injury would not fall within the discovery rule under Rigazio, supra.
Roman Catholic Diocese v. Secter, 966 S.W.2d 286, 289 (Ky. Ct. App. 1998)
Holding that Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 413.170(1) did not apply b/c even if the son later suffered from post-traumatic memory loss which made him of unsound mind, this had not been the case at the time of the abuse, when the action accrued.
Rigazio v. Archdiocese of Louisville, 853 S.W.2d 295, 296 (Ky. Ct. App. 1993)
Current Criminal SOL
In Kentucky, there is no criminal SOL for child sex abuse felonies. For all other crimes, the criminal SOL is capped at age 23 (age of majority, 18, plus five years).
As of 1974, NONE for felonies.
SOL vs. perp.: + 5 years from majority = Age 23.
Kentucky State Law Provides:
(1) Except as otherwise expressly provided, the prosecution of a felony is not subject to a period of limitation and may be commenced at any time.
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 500.050
(3) (“For a misdemeanor offense under KRS Chapter 510 when the victim is under the age of eighteen (18) at the time of the offense, the prosecution of the offense shall be commenced within five (5) years after the victim attains the age of eighteen (18) years.”) – MISDEMEANORS +5 from age 18.
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 500.050
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 (under 16 with judicial consent), although pregnant women can apply directly to the court.
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See Ky. Rev. Stat. § 402.020.
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
A parent shall not be considered negligent for solely providing spiritual treatment in accordance with the practices of a recognized religious denomination. However, the court has authorization to order medical treatment if deemed necessary.
Kentucky law provides:
A parent or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child legitimately practicing the person’s religious beliefs shall not be considered a negligent parent solely because he fails to provide specified medical treatment for a child for that reason alone.
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 600.020(1)(a)(8)
The court may order or consent to necessary medical treatment . . . after a hearing conducted to determine the necessity of such treatment or procedure. In making the order, the court may take into consideration the religious beliefs and practices of the child and his parents or guardian.
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 610.310(2)
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is a religious exemption to criminal liability for parents failing to provide medical care based on faith because Kentucky’s criminal statute uses the same definition as civil. (see above)
Kentucky Law Provides:
Endangering welfare of minor.
(1) A parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody of a minor is guilty of endangering the welfare of a minor when he fails or refuses to exercise reasonable diligence in the control of such child to prevent him from becoming a neglected, dependent or delinquent child.
(2) Endangering the welfare of a minor is a Class A misdemeanor.
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 530.060
Current DNA Provision
*As of December 2018
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
HB 279 (2013)
Passed on March 27 2013
AN ACT RELATING TO CONSTRUCTION OF THE LAW. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
SECTION 1. A NEW SECTION OF KRS CHAPTER 446 IS CREATED TO READ AS FOLLOWS: Government shall not substantially burden a person’s freedom of religion. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be substantially burdened unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A “burden” shall include indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.
The information provided is solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. To determine the SOL in a particular case, contact a lawyer in the state.