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Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

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Opinion

Louisiana court ruling hurts child sex abuse survivors

May 22

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Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

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In a controversial March 2024 ruling, the law that had previously allowed adult victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits has been overturned as unconstitutional. The three-year “look back window,” which began in June 2021, allowed individuals to file abuse lawsuits regardless of when the incidents occurred. Louisiana’s high court is now reconsidering its 4-3 March ruling.

Watch the above video to hear Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence explain why she believes the Louisiana Supreme Court’s ruling is not only flawed but also benefits sexual predators.


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The following is an excerpt of the above video:

That is nonsense. Laws can be applied retroactively. The majority simply doesn’t want to do the complete analysis here because it would mean that sexual predators could actually face consequences.

It’s long been held that a vested right like the right to, what, own and use property, is not absolute, so why would some right to closure — in terms of knowing that you won’t be sued in court — be absolute? It’s not.

Legislatures can pass laws that allow people more time to file lawsuits so long as lawmakers make it clear that they’re applying it retroactively and the decision is related to a legitimate government interest. Those two boxes should be checked and due process is done. In the case here, the Louisiana Legislature clearly stated that they wanted to give a three-year “look back window” for survivors to be able to sue their assailants.

This move recognizes how our society effectively prevented people from coming forward about sexual abuse in the past. It recognizes the vested rights survivors have in seeking accountability. And all the state Supreme Court had to do was to appreciate that these things are legitimate governmental interests. Instead, the majority of the court ignored the legal standard so that it could continue to protect abusers, ultimately throwing out the law that would have allowed survivors to seek some semblance of justice in Louisiana.

Sometimes it feels like we cannot win. Even when the law is on our side. Predators always seem to find a way to circumvent it.

The me to movement has been on quite a roller coaster lately. First we saw Sean P. Diddy Combs get the business in terms of several FBI raids, and numerous long overdue civil lawsuits only for prolific predator Harvey Weinstein to get due process in the form of a new trial in New York. Now while I fully appreciate heinous people getting their due, I also fully respect that due process must be done. But that wasn’t what was done in a pivotal case down south. In a recent four to three ruling the Louisiana Supreme Court effectively decided that priests who molest and their enablers who allow it to go on have due process rights that extend over the victims holding them accountable. The courts reasoning here is as audacious as its analysis is flawed. The issue starts with the Louisiana child victims Act, a law that was passed in 2021. That gave a look back window applied retroactively. So it gave people three years to file lawsuits who didn’t file them before. And this is something that’s really popped up across the country when me too popped off. People realizing finally that survivors often remain silent because our society was ignorant and would stigmatize them. So with retroactive laws like that, Louisiana survivors could finally have their day in court. Well, in the bio state the act, that legislature passed it gave victims until June 14 2024. That is, until the Louisiana supreme court said no dice and an opinion written by James justice James Genovese, the majority effectively said that Louisiana child victims act Rob defendants have their vested right to closure. That is their right to have the statute of limitations fixed, according to the court that right to closure cannot be abridged because it would violate due process. That is nonsense. Laws can be applied retroactively. The majority simply doesn’t want to do the complete analysis here. Because it would mean that sexual predators could actually face consequences. It’s long been held that a vested right like the right to what own and use property is not absolute. So why would have some right to closure in terms of knowing that you won’t be sued in court be absolute, it’s not legislature can pass laws that allow people more time to file lawsuits. So long as lawmakers make it clear that they’re applying it retroactively and the decision is related to a legitimate government interest. Those two boxes should be checked and due process is done. In the case here Louisiana legislature clearly stated that they wanted to give a three year look back window for survivors to be able to sue their assailants. This move recognize how our society effectively prevented people from coming forward about sexual abuse in the past, in recognize the vested rights survivors have in seeking accountability. And all the state Supreme Court had to do was to appreciate that these things are legitimate governmental interests. Instead, the majority of the court ignored the legal standard so that it could continue to protect abusers, ultimately throwing up the law that would have allowed survivors to seek some semblance of justice in Louisiana. Sometimes it feels like we cannot win. Even when the law is on our side. Predators always seem to find a way to circumvent it. Even so with all the bumps in the shakes, curves and rattles of this roller coaster that we call me to none of us are getting off this ride until justice is done.

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