Time Limits Removed on Child Sexual Abuse Claims
The maximum penalty for a person who engages in sexual intercourse with a child under 10 years of age is imprisonment for life, meaning he or she is to serve that sentence for the term of his or her natural life.
The maximum penalty for a person who engages in sexual intercourse with a child between the ages of 10 and 14 years faces a term of imprisonment for up to 16 years, and 10 years for a person who engages in sexual intercourse with a child between ages 14 and 16.
Despite these serious consequences, child sexual abuse is still a significant problem which has long-term effects on a child. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 18,800 victims of recorded sexual assault in 2009, with 25% of these victims aged 10 to 14 years, which is 4 times higher than any other age groups (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009).
The former time limitation to lodge civil claims against alleged child abusers did not acknowledge the difficulties faced by victims of child sexual abuse, as it only provided victims with 3 years to lodge, or 3 years after turning 18 if they were a child at the time of the alleged abuse.
A "use-by date" had the potential of resulting in great injustice towards victims of child sexual abuse, who are often confused, afraid, and/or ashamed to speak about their experience(s).
This year, the NSW Government has taken a stand and scrapped any time limits on civil action by survivors of child abuse. Child abuse refers to sexual abuse; serious physical abuse; and any other abuse perpetrated in connection with sexual abuse or serious physical abuse.
This significant change allows victims of child sexual assault to lodge civil claims against their perpetrators at their own time. However, as perpetrators are often a lot older than their child victims, the victim is always encouraged to commence action as soon as reasonably possible.
If you or someone you love is a victim of child sexual abuse, seek immediate legal advice. Sydney Lawyers and Associates Pty Ltd have successfully advised and represented victims of child sexual abuse. Contact our experienced lawyers today for a confidential and obligation-free advice.These articles are intended only to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render legal advice. No reader should act on the basis of any matter contained in this article without first obtaining specific professional advice.