Yes, there are time limitations on when you can both prosecute and sue for sexual abuse in Louisiana, and the statute for civil suits is especially strict.  It is very important to keep the statute of limitations in mind when thinking about whether or not to pursue a case.

It is also important to remember that the criminal statute of limitations (SOL) that applies is the one that was in place at the time of the crime itself.  So while it may have been lengthened in the time since, if the limitation ran out, it can NOT be reactivated (whether this is the case with civil litigation is still being debated).  Considering Louisiana's old laws gave even less time to report the abuse, it would be wise to consult a lawyer familiar with Louisiana law as to what rule applies to your case and if your time limit has expired.

Civil Lawsuit for Sexual Abuse

If you are attempting to sue an abuser for damages, then you must act within the time period of the civil statute of limitations, which is one year after the date of discovery of the abuse, or one year after your 18th birthday (whichever is longer).  Unlike many other states that have a "delayed discovery rule" (which takes into account the relative frequency that the abuse can be "blocked out" and not remembered for years by the victim, and doesn't start the SOL until the memory has been "recovered"), Louisiana has no such rule.  The "date of discovery" used here is meant only in it's actual mechanical sense (one year from the actual abuse).  Louisiana courts do not recognize blocked out or recovered memories in civil cases.

Bear in mind that this is a highly contentious issue of legislation, and could very easily be subject to change in the near future (especially in an election year).   Therefore you should talk to a Louisiana attorney to get the most current information about what state law protections and requirements you have.  

Criminal Prosecution for Sexual Abuse

On the other hand, the statute of liabilities for criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse has very recently been lengthened by a huge amount, likely owing to the public backlash against the wave of Louisiana's sexual abuse allegations in the early 1990's.  Now, for pretty much any sex crime committed against a minor (including oral sex, molestation, statutory rape, and incest) there is a statute of limitations of 30 years from the victim's 18th birthday.  If the victim is still under the control or fiduciary responsibility of the abuser, the SOL can be even longer, not running until after the victim is no longer under such influence.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Sexual abuse is one of the crimes that benefits the most from statutes of limitations, as often victims are too ashamed or frightened to testify before its too late.  If you are the victim of sexual abuse, a lawyer can help you by filing suit against your abuser, the people who enabled your abuser, or by discussing with you the complicated issue of statutes of limitations within Louisiana.  But time is of the essence, so talk to a lawyer and learn your rights today.

A qualified Louisiana lawyer can provided you more information if there is a legal basis for your issue. For more local legal information, please see these pages: