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#351723 - 01/24/11 02:50 AM What do these statutes mean for me?
SamV Offline

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5972
Loc: Sunnny, South East USA
I was incestuously abused at age 6, discovered at age 41, December 9, 2009.
My brother has first hand knowledge of the abuse, but may be a hostile witness.

Can I report, charge or civil sue my 11 year old abuser, now 46?


Wis. Stat. Ann. 893.587
Wisconsin has adopted a "bright line" statute allowing victims to bring actions until they reach the age of 35, meaning that suits must be filed before a victim turns 35:
893.587 Sexual assault of a child; limitation. An action to recover damages for injury caused by an act that would constitute a violation of s. 948.02, 948.025, 948.06, 948.085, or 948.095 or would create a cause of action under s. 895.442 shall be commenced before the injured party reaches the age of 35 years or be barred. (As amended in 2005).

Link to PDF document containing all of Chapter 893 (Limitation of Commencement of Actions, including legislative and case annotations.)

Common law preceding adoption of statute: In cases of incestuous abuse, the claim does not accrue until the victim discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the fact and cause of the injury. Hammer v. Hammer, 418 N.W.2d 23 (Wis. Ct. App. 1987), rev. denied 144 Wis.2d 953, 428 N.W.2d 552 (Wis. 1988). Compare Doe v. Archdiocese, 565 N.W.2d 94 (Wis. 1997)(refusing to apply discovery rule to cases of non-incestuous abuse in which adult survivors either repressed memory completely or did not recognize that their injuries were caused by childhood abuse).

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#351810 - 01/25/11 02:18 AM Re: What do these statutes mean for me? [Re: SamV]
charty Offline

Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 61
Loc: Wisconsin

I live in Wisconsin, too, and happen to know a little bit about this. However, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. To find out for sure, you should probably contact a lawyer in Wisconsin who is familiar with Wisconsin state law.

I believe that the statute means that you cannot file this suit because you did not initiate it before you reached the age of 35.

There was a bill introduced last year called the Child Sexual Abuse Victims Act which would have amended this law and raised this age. It was fought by the Catholic Church (with new U. S. Senator Ron Johnson testifying on the church's behalf against it) because they said that it could break the church in Wisconsin (this before the Milwaukee diocese filed bankruptcy recently). The dozens of citizens who testified before the legislature in favor of the bill noted that many, if not most, victims of childhood sexual abuse do not start coming to terms with the issue until well into their 40's or 50's, sometimes later. Nevertheless the bill failed.

There are plans to reintroduce the measure this year. If this is something you feel is important I urge you to contact your Assembly Representative and your State Senator and ask them to support the bill. Also, I'd encourage you to pass the word among your trusted friends. I intend to do that and if it is introduced again I intend to go to the Capitol this time and testify on its behalf. Good luck with everything.

Edited by charty (01/25/11 02:20 AM)
Edit Reason: typo



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