Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Seeking Compensation From Their Abusers: Are Illinois Courts Fairly Applying the Discovery Rule to All Victims?
Garza, Chrissie F.
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Victims of this childhood sexual abuse suffer tremendous injuries, some of which can carry on into adulthood. Some of the injuries might not manifest until years after the abuse has ended. Adults often do not realize that the psychological problems that plague them day after day, year after year, are a result of the abuse they suffered through as children. When victims make this causal connection, some want to pursue civil damages so that the defendant can compensate them for their injuries. Unfortunately, most often the victims' claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Some jurisdictions apply the discovery rule to toll these victims' claims, while others do not. Illinois is one state that does not toll the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse who have always known of the abuse, but did not make the causal connection with their injuries and the abuse until after the limitations period had passed. By doing so, the courts are denying these victims the compensation they deserve. Illinois should take a more liberal stance in applying the discovery rule to such cases because of the traumatic nature of the misconduct and the unique nature of the victims' injuries.