A statute of limitations (or SOL), simply, is the maximum amount of time one has to bring a lawsuit from the time of the injury or other ground for a lawsuit.
SOLs vary from state to state and from claim to claim. For example, a SOL for a lawsuit about a contract may be different from a lawsuit about a personal injury and both may be of varying durations between different states. The statute of limitations may also be set to begin running at different times. Some SOLs begin running at the time of the injury and others begin running when the injury is discovered. In cases with minors, the SOL is “tolled” or doesn’t begin to run until the minor turns 18.
Child Sex Abuse Statutes of Limitation and Related Laws
Current Civil SOL
In Oklahoma, the SOL for civil child sex abuse cases is capped at age 45 (age of majority, 18, plus 27 years). There is also a discovery rule, which allows victims up to 2 years to file a claim after discovering an injury caused by the abuse.
SOL vs. perp: As of November 1, 2017: Age 45.
SOL vs. perp: Before November 1, 2017: + 2 years from majority = Age 20
SOL vs. employer: + 2 years from majority = Age 20
Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Liberal (+ 2) intentional conduct; Narrow (+ 2) years negligence
Statute of Repose: No claims after age 38.
Oklahoma State Law Provides:
Limitation of other actions
(6) An action based on intentional conduct brought by any person for recovery of damages for injury suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse incidents or exploitation as defined by Section 1-1-105 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes or incest can only be brought within the latter of the following periods:
a.within two (2) years of the act alleged to have caused the injury or condition, or
b.within two (2) years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the act or that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought.
Provided, however, that the time limit for commencement of an action pursuant to this paragraph is tolled for a child until the child reaches the age of eighteen (18) years or until five (5) years after the perpetrator is released from the custody of a state, federal or local correctional facility or jail, whichever is later. No action may be brought against the alleged perpetrator or the estate of the alleged perpetrator after the death of such alleged perpetrator, unless the perpetrator was convicted of a crime of sexual abuse involving the claimant. An action pursuant to this paragraph must be based upon objective verifiable evidence in order for the victim to recover damages for injuries suffered by reason of such sexual abuse, exploitation, or incest. The evidence should include both proof that the victim had psychologically repressed the memory of the facts upon which the claim was predicated and that there was corroborating evidence that the sexual abuse, exploitation, or incest actually occurred. The victim need not establish which act in a series of continuing sexual abuse incidents, exploitation incidents, or incest caused the injury complained of, but may compute the date of discovery from the date of discovery of the last act by the same perpetrator which is part of a common scheme or plan of sexual abuse, exploitation, or incest. Provided further, any action based on intentional conduct specified in paragraph 7 of this section must be commenced within twenty (20) years of the victim reaching the age of eighteen (18)
12 OK Stat § 12-95 (2014)
Majority: yes. Age 18.
Provided, however, that the time limit for commencement of an action pursuant to this paragraph is tolled for a child until the child reaches the age of eighteen (18) years or until five (5) years after the perpetrator is released from the custody of a state, federal or local correctional facility or jail, whichever is later
Okl. St. § 95 (6)
Discovery: yes, 2 years, liberal
Okl. St. § 95 (6)(b)
Current Criminal SOL
In Oklahoma, there is no criminal SOL if physical evidence is collected for DNA testing, and the identity of offender is subsequently established through the use of DNA profiling.
As of November 1, 2017: None if: physical evidence is collected preserved for DNA testing, and the identity of offender is subsequently established through the use of DNA profiling. Prosecution under this exception must be commenced within three years of identification. Click to read Oklahoma House Bill 1468, which codified this change.
Before November 1, 2017: Up to age 45 for rape or forcible sodomy, sodomy, lewd or indecent proposals or acts against children, involving minors in pornography.
Oklahoma State Law Provides:
Statute of limitations
(C) (1) Prosecutions for the crime of rape or forcible sodomy, sodomy, lewd or indecent proposals or acts against children, involving minors in pornography pursuant to Section 886, 888, 1111, 1111.1, 1113, 1114, 1021.2, 1021.3 or 1123 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes, child abuse pursuant to Section 843.5 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes, and child trafficking pursuant to Section 866 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes shall be commenced within twelve (12) years after the discovery of the crime.
(2) However, prosecutions for the crimes listed in paragraph 1 of this subsection may be commenced at any time after the commission of the offense if:
a.the victim notified law enforcement within twelve (12) years after the discovery of the crime,
b.physical evidence is collected and preserved that is capable of being tested to obtain a profile from deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and
c.the identity of the offender is subsequently established through the use of a DNA profile using evidence listed in subparagraph b of this paragraph.
A prosecution under this exception must be commenced within three (3) years from the date on which the identity of the suspect is established by DNA testing.
(L) As used in paragraph 1 of subsection C of this section, “discovery” means the date that a physical or sexually related crime involving a victim under the age of eighteen (18) years of age is reported to a law enforcement agency, up to and including one (1) year from the eighteenth birthday of the child.
22 OK Stat § 22-152 (2014)
Age of Majority / Age of Consent / Age of Marriage
Age of Majority: 18. See, Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 13.
Age of Consent: 16. See, Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 1123.
Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 (under 16 with judicial consent only in cases of a seduction or paternity suit or if there is a pregnancy or illegitimate child).
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See, Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 43, § 3.
Medical Neglect Statute
CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
A child shall not be considered neglected or abused solely because their parents provide spiritual treatment in accordance with a recognized church. However, the State has the authority to intervene to protect the child’s health or welfare.
Oklahoma Law Provides:
Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to mean a child is abused or neglected for the sole reason the parent, guardian or person having custody or control of a child, in good faith, selects and depends upon spiritual means alone through prayer, in accordance with the tenets and practice of a recognized church or religious denomination, for the treatment or cure of disease or remedial care of such child.
Nothing contained in this paragraph shall prevent a court from immediately assuming custody of a child. . . and ordering whatever action may be necessary, including medical treatment, to protect the child’s health or welfare.
Oklahoma Statutes §10A-1-1-105(47)
Nothing in the Oklahoma Children’s Code shall be construed to mean a child is deprived for the sole reason the parent, guardian or person having custody or control of a child, in good faith, selects and depends upon spiritual means alone through prayer, in accordance with the tenets and practice of a recognized church or religious denomination, for the treatment or cure of disease or remedial care of such child.
Oklahoma Statutes §10A-1-1-105(20)
Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to exempt or prohibit any person from reporting any suspected child abuse or neglect pursuant to subsection B of this section.
CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE
There is a religious exemption to child neglect and endangerment for parents who, in good faith, solely provide spiritual treatment in accordance with a recognized church. The exemption does not extend when laws relating to communicable disease and sanitary matters are violated.
Oklahoma Law Provides:
OKLAHOMA defenses to felony neglect, omission to provide, and child endangerment
As used in this subsection, “child neglect” means the willful or malicious neglect, as defined by paragraph 46 of Section 1-1-105 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes, of a child under eighteen (18) years of age by another.
Oklahoma Statutes title 21 §843.5 (C)
Note: Title 10A §1-1-105 includes a religious exemption.
[The definition of the offense of omission to provide for a child shall not] be construed to mean a child is endangered for the sole reason the parent, guardian or person having custody or control of a child, in good faith, selects and depends upon spiritual means alone through prayer, in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination, for the treatment or cure of disease or remedial care of such child, provided that medical care shall be provided where permanent physical damage could result to such child, and that the laws, rules, and regulations relating to communicable disease and sanitary matters are not violated.
Oklahoma Statutes title 21 §852
[A person having custody or control over a child] commits child endangerment when the person knowingly permits physical or sexual abuse or a child or . . . knowingly permits a child to be present at a location where a controlled dangerous substance is being manufactured or attempted to be manufactured. . . .
The provisions of this section shall not apply to any parent, guardian or other person having custody or control of a child for the sole reason that the parent, guardian or other person in good faith selects and depends upon spiritual means or prayer for the treatment or cure of disease or remedial care for such child. This subsection shall in no way limit or modify the protections afforded said child in Section 852 of this title.
Oklahoma Statutes title 21 §852.1
Religous Liberty Statute
Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk
Current Law: 51 OKL.ST.ANN. § 251-258
Enacted: June 1, 2000
§ 251. Short title This act may be cited as the “Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act”.
§ 252. Definitions In this act:
“Demonstrates” means the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion under the standard of clear and convincing evidence are met;
“Exercise of religion” means the exercise of religion under Article 1, Section 2, of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States;
“Fraudulent claim” means a claim that is dishonest in fact or that is made principally for a patently improper purpose, such as to harass the opposing party;
“Frivolous claim” means a claim which lacks merit under existing law and which cannot be supported by a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law;
“Governmental entity” means any branch, department, agency, or instrumentality of state government, or any official or other person acting under color of state law, or any political subdivision of this state;
“Prevails” means to obtain prevailing party status as defined by courts construing the federal Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Awards Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 1988; and
- “Substantially burden” means to inhibit or curtail religiously motivated practice. Read More § 253. Burden upon free exercise of religion A. Except as provided in subsection B of this section, no governmental entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability. B. No governmental entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is:
- Essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and
- The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
§ 254. Correctional facility regulation–Compelling state interest A state or local correctional facility’s regulation must be considered in furtherance of a compelling state interest if the facility demonstrates that the religious activity:
- Sought to be engaged by a prisoner is presumptively dangerous to the health or safety of that prisoner; or
- Poses a direct threat to the health, safety, or security of other prisoners, correctional staff, or the public.
§ 255. Construction A. Nothing in this act1 shall be construed to:
- Authorize any government entity to substantially burden any religious belief;
- Authorize same sex marriages, unions, or the equivalent thereof; or
- Affect, interpret, or in any way address those portions of Article 1, Section 2, and Article 2, Section 5, of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, or the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that prohibit laws respecting the establishment of religion.
B. Granting governmental funds, benefits, or exemptions to the extent permissible under paragraph 3 of subsection A of this section shall not constitute a violation of this section. As used in this subsection, “granting government funds, benefits, or exemptions” shall not include the denial of government funding, benefits, or exemptions. This provision does not in and of itself require vouchers.
§ 256. Remedies–Costs–Attorney Fees A. Any person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened by a governmental entity in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding and may obtain declaratory relief or monetary damages. B. Any person who prevails in any proceeding to enforce this act against a governmental entity may recover reasonable costs and attorney fees.
§ 257. Frivolous or fraudulent claims Any person found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have abused the protection of this act by filing a frivolous or fraudulent claim may be assessed the court costs of the governmental entity and may be enjoined from filing further claims under this act without leave of court.
§ 258. Governmental authority Notwithstanding any provision of this act, a governmental entity has no less authority to adopt or apply laws and regulations in a nondiscriminatory manner concerning zoning, land use planning, traffic management, urban nuisance, or historic preservation, than the authority of the governmental entity that existed under the law prior to the passage of this act. This section does not affect the authority of a governmental entity to adopt or apply laws and regulations as that authority has been interpreted by any court.
2016 Pending Bills:
HB 1371 – An Act relating to the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act; amending 51 O.S. 2011, Section 252, which relates to definitions; adding certain definition; prohibiting state or subdivision from making certain claim under certain action; providing for codification; and providing an effective date. (Last Updated 2/25/15)
2015 Enrolled Legislation:
HB 1007 – An Act relating to marriage; prohibiting requirement of religious official to solemnize a marriage that violates their conscience or religious beliefs; providing for civil immunity; defining terms; providing for codification; and providing an effective date. (Final Version as of 4/23/15)
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.