Hawaii Legislature Poised to Banish Statute of Limitations in Sexual Abuse of Children
News Release from Office of Rep Cynthia Thielen Feb 20, 2019
All sex crimes are felonies and House Bill 18, which passed the House Judiciary Committee last week, aims to repeal statutory limitations on the time that a childhood sexual-abuse survivor can seek justice against an adult perpetrator through civil action.
HB18 serves to prolong legal protections for innocent, scared children who enter adulthood after suffering heinous sexual abuse at any time or throughout their childhoods.
Current Hawaii law requires that a sexually abused child who turns 18 has only eight years – til age 26 – to step forward and file a lawsuit. It also limits the survivor to just three years, or 36 months, to initiate legal action after discovering that a psychological injury or illness in adulthood was caused by the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.
"Children who are sexually abused and threatened into submission can't be expected to enter adulthood and suddenly be equipped by age 26 to take on the magnitude of a legal case against a family member or adult. Most people who haven't suffered childhood sexual abuse are still adjusting to adulthood or careers at that age – not facing an abuser who murdered their innocence and affected their psyche," said Representative Cynthia Thielen, the bill's introducer.
National TV newscasts recently featured former Hawaii resident Sheryl Hauk, who says that she was sexually abused in Hawaii from ages 3 to 18 by a family member. Hauk now lives in Michigan, where infamous gymnast coach Larry Nassar was convicted of sex crimes against minors in 2018. When Hauk felt equipped to enter the court system in search of justice, she learned about Hawaii's statute of limitations. In contrast, Michigan has no time limits on childhood sexual-abuse crimes.
Six other states have altogether eliminated statutes of limitations for all felony sex crimes: Kentucky, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Sheryl Hauk on NBC News affiliate: https://www.facebook.com/paulatutmanlocal4/videos/809120112610155/
HB18: Text, Status (UPDATE: No hearing yet scheduled by House Finance Committee.)
KITV: Lawmakers pushing to eliminate statue of limitations in sexual abuse of children