When is it too late to make a sexual abuse allegation? Depends where you live

Veteran Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin is the latest high profile figure to face allegations of child molestation.  Prosecutors say they won’t bring charges against him because the statute of limitations in New Jersey has expired.  But laws differ dramatically from state to state.  Lawyer Marci Hamilton has represented many sexual abuse survivors.  She said Delaware is the most liberal state in the country: the First State has eliminated both the civil and the criminal statutes of limitations, making it much easier to bring forth a claim in Delaware, than elsewhere.”The state of Pennsylvania, if you turned 20 before 2002 almost all of your claims likely expired,” said Hamilton.  “So many many claims are not capable of going forward now.  But if you were not yet 20 in 2002, the extension were for the civil claims you have until age 30, for criminal claims you have until age 50.”In New Jersey, Hamilton said something called “the discovery rule” reigns.”The survivor has until two years after the date on which they have made a connection between the abuse that occurred, and the problems they’re having as adults,” she said.  “There has to be a discovery of the connection between those two and then they have two years after that to file civil claims.  The criminal side of it is much more open for New Jersey.”Hamilton said recent accusations against high profile figures have generated a lot of interest in the statute of limitations.  Lawmakers in Harrisburg have been trying for years to loosen the statute, but have not succeeded.

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