Rhode Island

 
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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.

Child Sex Abuse Statutes of Limitation and Related Laws

Current Civil SOL

In Rhode Island, the civil SOL for child sex abuse claims is capped at age 25 (age of majority, 18, plus 7 years). For claims against employers, the SOL is capped at age 21 (age of majority, 18, plus 3 years). For claims against a perpetrator, there is a discovery rule, which allows victims to file a claim after discovering an injury caused by the abuse.

SOL vs. perp: +7 years from majority = Age 25
SOL vs. employer: +3 years from majority = Age 21

Majority Tolling: Age 18
Discovery Tolling: Liberal (against perp. only)

SOL: + 7 years from liberal discovery vs perp; + 3 years from majority vs non-offenders


Rhode Island State Law Provides:

Limitation on actions based on sexual abuse or exploitation of a child

(a) All claims or causes of action based on intentional conduct brought by any person for recovery of damages for injury suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse shall be commenced within seven (7) years of the act alleged to have caused the injury or condition, or seven (7) years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the act, whichever period expires later.

RI ST § 9-1-51

Limitation of actions for words spoken or personal injuries

(b) Actions for injuries to the person shall be commenced and sued within three (3) years next after the cause of action shall accrue, and not after, except as provided for otherwise in subsection (c) herein.

RI ST § 9-1-14

The time within which a claim for injury resulting from sexual abuse of a minor must be brought is governed by subsection (b) of this section, not § 9-1-51 when the claim is asserted against someone other than the alleged abuser (e.g., against the abuser’s employer)
Kelly v. Marcantonio, 678 A.2d 873 (R.I. 1996)

Tolling:

Majority, 18.

Limitation on actions based on sexual abuse or exploitation of a child

(e) Childhood sexual abuse” means any act committed by the defendant against a complainant who was less than eighteen (18) years of age at the time of the act and which act would have been a criminal violation of chapter 37 of title 11.)
R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-51

Disability postponing running of statute

Disability postponing running of statute .If any person at the time any such cause of action shall accrue to him or her shall be under the age of eighteen (18) years, or of unsound mind, or beyond the limits of the United States, the person may bring the cause of action, within the time limited under this chapter, after the impediment is none.
R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-19

Discovery, yes, liberal, but vs perp only.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-51(a)

Even if statutory discovery rule applied in civil clerical sex abuse action that named non-perpetrator church as defendant, thereby allowing for tolling of seven-year limitations period from date of abuse to point at which plaintiff church parishioner reasonably should have discovered the injury, parishioner’s stated reason for her belated filing of action against church, that she had been operating under the belief that priest’s abuse was an act of God, was not objectively reasonable as to toll limitations period, as parishioner, who was 21 years of age at time of abuse, provided testimony tending to show she was aware at the time of the incident that priest’s conduct was wrong.
Ryan v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence, 941 A.2d 174 (R.I, 2008).

Accordingly, § 9-1-51 has no application to claims made against nonperpetrator-defendants. In regard to nonperpetrator-defendants, the three-year statute of limitation provided in § 9-1-14(b) applies, subject of course to the tolling provision of § 9-1-19, as amended by P.L. 1988, ch. 107, § 1 3.
Kelly v. Marcantonio, 678 A.2d 873, 877, 1996 R.I. LEXIS 187, 11 (R.I. 1996)

Current Criminal SOL

In Rhode Island, there is no criminal SOL for rape, first degree sexual assault, first degree child molestation sexual assault, second-degree child molestation sexual assault, and bigamy. The criminal SOL for all other child sex abuse crimes is three years from the commission of the act.

NONE for rape, first degree sexual assault, first degree child molestation sexual assault, second-degree child molestation sexual assault, bigamy.
SOL for all other child sex abuse crimes is + 3 years from commission of act.


Rhode Island State Law Provides:

Statute of limitations

(a) There shall be no statute of limitations for the following offenses: treason against the state; any homicide, arson, first-degree arson, second-degree arson, third-degree arson, burglary, counterfeiting, forgery, robbery, rape, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree child molestation sexual assault, second-degree child molestation sexual assault, bigamy; manufacturing, selling, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance under the Uniform Controlled Substance Act, chapter 28 of title 21; or any other offense for which the maximum penalty provided is life imprisonment.
(b) The statute of limitations for the following offenses shall be ten (10) years: larceny under § 11-41-2 (receiving stolen goods), § 11-41-3 (embezzlement and fraudulent conversion), § 11-41-4 (obtaining property by false pretenses or personation), § 11-41-11 (embezzlement by bank officer or employee), § 11-41-12 (fraudulent conversion by agent or factor), and § 11-41-13 (obtaining signature by false pretenses), or any larceny that is punishable as a felony; any violation of chapter 7 of title 11 (bribery); any violation of § 11-18-1 (giving false document to agent, employee, or public official); perjury; any violation of chapter 42 of title 11 (threats and extortion); any violation of chapter 15 of title 7 (racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations); any violation of chapter 57 of title 11 (racketeer violence); any violation of chapter 36 of title 6 (antitrust law); any violation of § 11-68-2 (exploitation of an elder); any violation of § 11-41-11.1 (unlawful appropriation); any violation of § 11-18-6 (false financial statement to obtain loan or credit); any violation of § 19-9-28 (false statement to obtain a loan); any violation of § 19-9-29 (bank fraud); or any violation of § 11-18-34 (residential mortgage fraud).
(c) The statute of limitations for any other criminal offense shall be three (3) years, unless a longer statute of limitations is otherwise provided for in the general laws.
(d) Any person who participates in any offense, either as a principal accessory or conspirator, shall be subject to the same statute of limitations as if the person had committed the substantive offense.
(e) The statute of limitations for any violation of chapter 18.9 of title 23 (refuse disposal), chapter 19 of title 23 (solid waste management corporation), chapter 19.1 of title 23 (hazardous waste management), chapter 12 of title 46 (water pollution), and chapter 13 of title 46 (public drinking water supply) shall be seven (7) years from the time that the facts constituting the offense or violation shall have become known to law enforcement authorities, unless a longer statute of limitations is otherwise provided for in the general laws.

RI ST § 12-12-17

Age of Majority: 18. See, R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 15-12-1.
Age of Consent: 16. See, R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-37-6.

Age of Marriage with Parental Consent: 16 (under 16 with judicial consent).
Age of Marriage without Parental Consent: 18.
See, R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 15-2-11.


Medical Neglect Statute

CIVIL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE

A parent shall not be considered negligent solely for providing religious treatment to their child that differs from community standards. However, this does not apply if the child is harmed or threatened with harm. The court also has the authority to order medical or nonmedical services if the child requires it.

Rhode Island Civil Statute:
A parent or guardian practicing his reli­gious beliefs which differ from general community standards who does not provide specified medical treatment for a child shall not, for that reason alone, be considered a negligent parent or guardian. However, nothing in this section shall:
(1) prevent the child from being considered abused or neglected if the child is harmed or threatened with harm as described in section 40-11-2; or
(2) preclude the court from ordering medical services or nonmedical services recognized by the laws of this state to be provided to the child where his or her health requires it.
Rhode Island General Laws §40-11-15

CRIMINAL MEDICAL NEGLECT STATUTE

A parent shall not be considered abusive or negligent solely for providing their child with religious treatment. However, this exemption does not extend if the parent has committed cruelty, neglect, or the child is harmed. The department has the authority to file a petition for medical services when the child’s health requires it.

Rhode Island Law Provides:
RHODE ISLAND defense to cruelty to or neglect of child
For purposes of this section, and in accordance with § 40-11-15, a parent or guar­dian practicing his or her religious beliefs which differ from general community standards who does not provide specified medical treatment for a child shall not, for that reason alone, be considered an abusive or negligent parent or guardian; provi­ded the provi­sions of this section shall not
(1) exempt a parent or guardian from having committed the offense of cruelty or neglect if the child is harmed under the provisions of (a) above;
(2) exempt the department from the provisions of section 40-11-5; or
(3) prohibit the department from filing a petition, pursuant to the provi­sions of section 40-11-15 for medical services for a child, where his or her health requires it.
Rhode Island General Laws §11-9-5(b)

Note: Rhode Island’s law actually holds the religious objectors to the same stan­dard as other parents. All Rhode Island parents have the same duty to provide medical treatment when the child is at risk of substantial harm. CHILD’s exemption map, therefore, shows Rhode Island as having a religious exemption only in the civil code.


Religous Liberty Statute

Religious liberty statute that could put children at risk

Rhode Island Enacted RFRA Legislation (Enacted: July 22, 1993)

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-80.1-1 to -4 (1998) § 42-80.1-1 Short title. – This chapter shall be known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”.

History of Section. (P.L. 1993, ch. 230, § 1.)

§ 42-80.1-2 Definitions. – As used in this chapter:

“Governmental authority” means any department, agency, commission, committee, board, council, bureau or authority or any subdivision of state or municipal government.

History of Section. (P.L. 1993, ch. 230, § 1.)

§ 42-80.1-3 Religious freedom protected. – (a) Except as provided for in subsection (b), a governmental authority may not restrict a person’s free exercise of religion. (b) A governmental authority may restrict a person’s free exercise of religion only if:

(1) The restriction is in the form of a rule of general applicability, and does not intentionally discriminate against religion, or among religions; and (2) The governmental authority proves that application of the restriction to the person is essential to further a compelling governmental interest, and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

History of Section. (P.L. 1993, ch. 230, § 1.)

§ 42-80.1-4 Remedies. – In any civil action alleging a violation of this chapter, the court may:

(1) Afford injunctive and declaratory relief against any governmental authority which commits a proposes to commit a violation of this chapter, and; (2) Award a prevailing plaintiff damages.

History of Section. (P.L. 1993, ch. 230, § 1.)


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.