THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that child sexual abuse is extremely prevalent and that most children who are survivors of sexual abuse do not immediately disclose the fact that they were abused. In the United States, one in five girls and one in twenty boys is a victim of child sexual abuse and studies show that between sixty and eighty per cent of survivors withhold disclosure. Of those who delay disclosure until adulthood, the average delay has been found to be approximately twenty years, with some survivors delaying up to fifty years. As children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of seven and thirteen, the average age at which delayed disclosure in adulthood occurs would be approximately between twenty-seven to thirty-three years of age.
The legislature further finds that there are many reasons children delay disclosing sexual abuse. These reasons range from their particular stage of cognitive development, limited capacity to understand what happened, confusion about their feelings, and limited ability to adequately express complaints, to the fact that a majority of survivors know the perpetrator and may fear retaliation or harmful impacts on their family or community. Moreover, when survivors disclose the abuse, they may also be subjected to negative, silencing, and re-traumatizing reactions by the recipients of the disclosure. Therefore, the fact that a survivor may have disclosed the survivor's abuse does not mean that the survivor had a meaningful opportunity to seek justice at the time of disclosure.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to repeal the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, thus aligning the law with the reality that survivors of child sexual abuse are often unable to disclose the abuse and seek justice until they are well into adulthood.
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
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
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 July 1, 2019.
Sexual Violence; Child Sexual Abuse; Civil Action; Statute of Limitations
Repeals the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. (SD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.