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Welcome Relief for Survivors of Sexual Abuse: The State of Michigan Extends the Statute of Limitations in Civil and Criminal Cases

During my decades of legal practice, I have had the great honor to represent many courageous people who survived heinous acts of sexual abuse at the hands of their clergy, teachers, coaches, physicians, relatives or, other trusted adults in their lives. Tragically, many victims of childhood sexual abuse were and are psychologically incapable of confronting the horrors of the abuse and years elapse before they seek legal help. In many instances, the statute of limitations barred these survivors from bringing civil claims. 

The revelations of Dr. Larry Nasser's serial sexual assaults upon his patients, ignited a groundswell of support for the extension of the civil and criminal statutes of limitations for sexual assaults in Michigan. On June 13, 2018, Michigan's Lt. Governor, Brian Calley, signed into law statutes that will provide more time for victims to file both civil and criminal complaints in Michigan. With the passage of Senate Bills 871 and 872 (now Public Acts 180 and 181 of 2018), if the victim of the sexual assault is under the age of 18 at the time of the assault, the government can file a criminal indictment within 15 years or by the survivor's 28th birthday, whichever occurs later. Further, a survivor of sexual abuse must file a civil suit before he/she is 28 years old or three years after he/she discovers he/she was a victim of sexual assault. Both statutes state that the victim does not need to file a criminal complaint to pursue a civil claim.

Prior to the passage of Public Acts 180 and 181 of 2018, victims of childhood sexual abuse typically had until the age 19 to file their civil claims. In addition to the expansion of the statute of limitations noted above, the law provides relief from the statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault that occurred after December 31, 1996, allowing them to file civil claims if the perpetrator of the assault was in a position of authority over the victim, like a teacher, or he/she engaged in unethical or unacceptable medical treatment of the victim, like Dr. Nasser.

I am looking forward to helping many more survivors of sexual abuse obtain the justice that they deserve.

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