THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2020
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. The delay may stem from fear, disbelief, anger, helplessness, anxiety, embarrassment, or other feelings that are not the survivors' fault.
For example, USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence Gerard Nassar's first public accuser, who was fifteen years old when she was assaulted, did not come forward until sixteen years later, when she was thirty-one. Although many other survivors remained silent even longer, Nassar was accused of sexually assaulting at least two hundred fifty girls and young women over a period of thirty years. He was ultimately convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault and possession of child pornography.
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. The average delay is approximately twenty years, while some survivors delay disclosure for up to fifty years.
Hawaii law currently requires that a lawsuit alleging childhood sexual abuse be filed within eight years of a survivor of childhood sexual abuse turning eighteen, or three years after discovering that an injury or illness during adulthood was caused by childhood sexual abuse. Under these limitations, many survivors of childhood sexual abuse may be barred from seeking civil redress in the courts.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to amend statutory limitations on the time periods in which a survivor of childhood sexual abuse may file a civil action and to specify the remedies available in civil cases arising from the sexual abuse of a minor.
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
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.] within forty years
of the eighteenth birthday of the minor.
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 upon its approval.
Childhood Sexual Abuse; Civil Actions; Statute of Limitations; Remedies
Amends statutory limitations on the time period in which a survivor of childhood sexual abuse may file a civil suit. Permits the court to order restorative justice measures, if deemed appropriate and requested by the victim. (SD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.