Survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Maine can now seek justice
The state of Maine is now safer for children because of a law that went into effect on October 18, 2021, that will help expose dangerous child predators. Adults of all ages who were abused as children will now be able to file lawsuits for child sex abuse, even if their claim was expired under the prior law. This change opens the courthouse doors to victims who, until now, were denied justice. It also means that at least some child molesters - and any colleagues or supervisors who helped them hide their crimes - can no longer hide from the eyes of the public.
We understand that no amount of money can make up for a lost childhood. But when survivors are allowed to use the tried-and-true civil justice system to name their abusers, obtain secret records, exposing cover-ups, and provide valuable evidence to law enforcement, today's children are safer, and victims can begin to heal. Similar laws in California, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware have helped to publicize the names of hundreds of perpetrators, and thousands of pages of evidence of abuse have exposed cover-ups and in some cases even led to criminal prosecutions.
Previously, survivors who experienced abuse in Maine before 1987 generally would not be able to file a lawsuit. Although the state eliminated the civil statute of limitations in 2000, the law was not retroactive so victims whose claims had expired could not benefit from the reform. But this past June, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed into law legislation that made the 2000 elimination of the SOL retroactive. This means that as of today, victims can now bring lawsuits based on older cases. This change allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to come forward on their terms and in their own time to attempt to hold their abusers and those who enabled them accountable for their actions.
If you are a victim of abuse in Maine or if your abuse occurred in that state, and you are contemplating taking advantage of this legal reform, please look first at the Survivors Toolkit offered by Child USA and SNAP for more information about the next steps to take.