skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 153778 Find in a Library
Title: Sexual Abuse Litigation: Opportunities and Obstacles
Journal: Trial  Volume:31  Issue:2  Dated:(February 1995)  Pages:66-68,70-71
Author(s): K A Tatone
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 5
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Sexual abuse cases present a formidable mix of legal and psychological issues; statutes of limitations, doubts about recovered memories, and insurance coverage limits present challenges for lawyers representing clients devastated by childhood sexual abuse.
Abstract: In handling a sexual abuse case, the lawyer should first verify through witnesses, siblings, or a therapist that sexual abuse has actually occurred. Child sexual abuse claims are often publicized, and the accusation can be emotionally, socially, and economically devastating to the accused. Further, a false accusation may be grounds for sanctions by the court or a malpractice suit against the lawyer. The lawyer should also ensure that the plaintiff's therapist is experienced in treating sexual abuse victims. The therapist's role in treatment should be neutral and not leading or judgmental. For many sexual abuse victims, the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution has passed by the time they are able or ready to go to court. Most States, however, have extended the statute of limitations for civil claims, recognizing that many victims are so traumatized that they involuntarily repress their memory of the abuse. If the plaintiff was abused by a parent, the claim may be barred by the parental immunity doctrine which prevents children from suing their parents for personal injury. In addition, most homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage for intentional criminal acts by the insured. Insurance policies usually cover an occurrence, which is defined as an accident resulting in bodily injury or property damage that was not expected or intended by the insured. This provision is commonly referred to as the intentional acts exclusion. If the abuse perpetrator is not the victim's parent but rather an employee of a business or institution that gave access to the plaintiff, the lawyer may consider a claim against the business or institution that allowed the abuse to occur. Suggestions are offered on how to prepare sexual abuse victims to testify, and the importance of a thorough voir dire is emphasized since sexual abuse trials subject jurors to painful emotions. 22 references
Main Term(s): Sexual assault victims
Index Term(s): Abused children; Abused women; Child Sexual Abuse; Child victims; Civil proceedings; Civil remedies; Courts; Female victims; Lawsuits; Victims of violent crime
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.