HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that survivors of childhood sexual abuse often do not divulge the truth about their experiences until they reach adulthood because they experience feelings of fear, disbelief, anger, helplessness, anxiety, embarrassment, or other feelings that are not their fault.
For example, the first woman to publicly accuse former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Lawrence Gerard Nassar was fifteen years old at the time she was assaulted and came forward sixteen years later, at the age of thirty-one. Many other survivors remained silent even longer, and Nassar was ultimately accused of sexually assaulting at least two hundred fifty girls and young women over a period of thirty years before he was convicted on multiple sexual assault and child pornography charges.
The legislature further finds that some studies have estimated that between sixty and eighty per cent of childhood sexual abuse survivors withhold disclosure of their abuse until adulthood and that the average delay is approximately twenty years, with some survivors delaying disclosure for up to fifty years.
Hawaii law generally requires that a lawsuit be filed within eight years after a survivor of childhood sexual abuse turns eighteen, or three years after discovering that a psychological injury or illness that occurs during adulthood was caused by childhood sexual abuse. Under those limitations, many survivors of childhood sexual assaults may be prevented from seeking redress in the courts.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to repeal statutory limitations on the time periods in which a survivor of childhood sexual abuse may file a civil action.
SECTION 2. Section 657-1.8, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsections (a) and (b) to read as follows:
"(a) Notwithstanding section 657-7 or any other
law to the contrary, [
except as provided under subsection (b), no] an
action for recovery of damages based on physical, psychological, or other
injury or condition suffered by a minor arising from the sexual abuse of the
minor by any person [ shall] may be commenced [ against the
person who committed the act of sexual abuse more than: (1) Eight years
after the eighteenth birthday of the minor or the person who committed the act
of sexual abuse attains the age of majority, whichever occurs later; or (2) Three years
after the date the minor discovers or reasonably should have discovered that
psychological injury or illness occurring after the minor's eighteenth birthday
was caused by the sexual abuse, whichever comes later.] at any time.
A civil cause of action for the sexual abuse of a minor shall be based upon sexual acts that constituted or would have constituted a criminal offense under part V or VI of chapter 707.
For a period of eight
years after April 24, 2012, a victim of child sexual abuse that occurred
in this State may file a claim in a circuit court of this State against the
person who committed the act of sexual abuse if the victim is barred from
filing a claim against the victim's abuser due to the expiration of the
applicable civil statute of limitations that was in effect prior to April 24,
A claim may [
also] be brought
under this [ subsection] section against a legal entity if:
(1) The person who committed the act of sexual abuse against the victim was employed by an institution, agency, firm, business, corporation, or other public or private legal entity that owed a duty of care to the victim; or
(2) The person who committed the act of sexual abuse and the victim were engaged in an activity over which the legal entity had a degree of responsibility or control.
Damages against the legal entity shall be awarded under this subsection only if there is a finding of gross negligence on the part of the legal entity."
SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on January 28, 2081.
Childhood Sexual Abuse; Civil Actions; Statute of Limitations
Repeals statutory limitations on the time period in which a survivor of childhood sexual abuse may file suit. (HB18 HD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.