New law removes time limits for child sex abuse lawsuits

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 3:49 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A new federal law does away with any time limits for victims of child sex abuse who sue their abusers.

President Joe Biden signed the law last Friday.

For Georgia and South Carolina victims, the new law is a dramatic change that recognizes the psychology of child sex abuse victims, said attorney Mark Tate of Tate Law Group who has represented child abuse victims in multiple lawsuits over the years.

“It’s demonstrated psychologically that children who are the victim of any childhood trauma, but most especially sexual abuse compartmentalize that and put that away and forget it. And many times it’s decades - 40s and 50s - before they fully realize they are in a victim,” he said.

In 2015, Tate sued and later won a multi-million dollar settlement against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah for victims of convicted child rapist Wayland Brown, who was a priest in Savannah between 1987 and 1988.

For the lawsuit, the victims had to rely on Georgia state law, which had a statute of limitations. Now – there are none under the new federal law. The new law allows more people to come forward, he said.

It also applies to active litigation, he said, including a new case he filed against the Savannah Dioceses in 2020 over allegations of a cover-up involving then- Priest Wayland Brown and his sexual abuse of young boys.

Those who were abused in Savannah include young boys who attended St James Catholic School in the late 1980s. In court filings, the Diocese has denied that it knew about the abuse or tried to cover it up.