This Note, focusing on New York law, demonstrates that the statute of limitations is the primary procedural difficulty that adult victims of childhood incest abuse encounter in bringing their civil claims. Specifically, the traditionally short statutes of limitations for assault, battery and infliction of mental distress often preclude the adult victim of childhood incest from seeking a remedy within the statutorily prescribed time. Part II of this Note presents an overview of the nature of incest abuse and its resultant injuries and considers the purposes and policies behind statutes of limitations. Part II also sets out the various common law counter-measures and statutory tolling exceptions to statutes of limitations, including the discovery rule. Next, Part III evaluates these common law doctrines and tolling exceptions to determine whether they are applicable to incest-based tort claims. Based on this analysis, the Note argues that New York's common law doctrines of equitable estoppel and duress, as well as its statutory tolling exception for mental disability, if properly construed, would ordinarily enable the incest victim to prevail against a defendant's assertion of a statute of limitations defense. Because courts. tend to construe these doctrines and exceptions narrowly, however, Part III of this Note concludes that New York should enact a discovery rule applicable to incest-based tort victims. Finally, in Part IV, the Note offers a proposed statute that addresses the particular difficulty that adult victims of childhood incest abuse encounter in seeking civil redress for their injuries.
Carolyn B. Handler,
Civil Claims of Adults Molested As Children: Maturation of Harm and the Statute of Limitations Hurdle,
15 Fordham Urb. L.J. 709
Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ulj/vol15/iss3/5