Washington D.C.—Today, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of Congresswoman Deborah Ross’ (NC-02) bipartisan legislation to ensure that survivors of child sexual abuse are able to seek justice in court without being barred by statutes of limitations. Congresswoman Ross introduced the legislation with Representatives Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), and Maria Salazar (FL-27), and it now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. 


86 percent of child sexual abuse goes unreported, and the average age of victims reporting child sex abuse is 52.  The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act will enable survivors who were victims of over a dozen federal child sex abuse offenses to seek civil damages in federal court regardless of the time it takes to process and disclose the abuse.


“It often takes years – sometimes decades – to process the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, and statutes of limitations result in many individuals never seeing their day in court,” said Congresswoman Ross. “All survivors deserve access to justice - no matter how long it takes them to process the trauma they’ve experienced. Our bipartisan legislation will ensure our most vulnerable can seek the justice they deserve. I thank my colleagues for working with me to pass this important legislation, and I look forward to President Biden signing it into law soon.”

"We must not put an expiration date on justice," said Congressman Swalwell. "While 86 percent of child sexual abuse goes unreported nationwide, the average survivor who chooses to report doesn’t come forward until the age of 52. The bipartisan Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act will help ensure survivors have their day in court no matter how long it takes to disclose the abuses they suffered.”

“In many cases, it takes years for survivors to process the trauma of childhood sexual abuse,” said Congressman Reschenthaler. “The statute of limitations should not prevent survivors from seeking civil justice in federal court. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House for passing this legislation to eliminate unnecessary barriers to justice and support survivors of child sex abuse and sex trafficking.”

“Victims of child sexual abuse, exploitation, and sex trafficking have gone through unfathomable trauma. We must have zero tolerance for the perpetrators of these horrific crimes,” said Congresswoman Salazar. “I am proud that this vital legislation has been passed to ensure that the vile humans who take advantage of the most vulnerable do not get away unpunished.”

For victims who choose to report their abuse, “delayed disclosure,” or the tendency of survivors of child sex abuse to wait for years before disclosing abuse to others, is common. Historically, delayed disclosure has impacted survivors’ path to justice.

Under current federal law, no statute of limitations (SOL) bars the prosecution of criminal offenses involving child sex abuse anytime while the child victim is alive or 10 years after the offense, whichever is later. However, statutes of limitations remain an obstacle for survivors under the federal civil remedy statute. While Congress in 2018 lengthened the SOL for federal civil child sex abuse claims until the victim reached age 28 or until 10 years from the discovery of the violation or injury, this SOL still does not reflect the current state of research on delayed disclosure.