State Supreme Court to Review Decision Limiting Time Child Sex Abuse Victims Have to Sue

State Supreme Court to Review Decision Limiting Time Child Sex Abuse Victims Have to Sue

Louisiana Supreme Court Set to Reconsider Child Rape Victims’ Lawsuits


The Louisiana state supreme court is set to reconsider its decision to strike down a law that had allowed child rape victims to file civil lawsuits over long-ago abuse cases. This decision came after the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New Orleans was identified as the subject of a child sex-trafficking investigation.

the Lookback Law

Known as the “lookback law,” the law allowed victims to file lawsuits about the abuse, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. In March, the decision to strike down the law devastated survivors of the state’s decades-old clergy molestation scandal. The justices voting for a rare rehearing: Chief Justice John Weimer and Justices Scott Crichton, William Crain, Jay McCallum, and Piper Griffin.

Special Interest Exceptions and Fairness

The dissent issued by Jefferson Davis Hughes III about March’s ruling stated “civilizations have provided time limits on legal claims as an essential element of fairness” since the days of the Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia around 1750 BC. Hughes went on to argue that “special interest exceptions are anathema to the broader and more important concept of justice. Equal protection means equal.”

Attorneys for the Plaintiffs

The attorneys for the plaintiff plaintiffs at the center of the case, Richard Trahant, Soren Giselson, John Denenea, Kevin Duck, and Cle Simon, issued a statement, stating “This is a great day for child sexual abuse survivors and the children of Louisiana. It is a bad day for pedophiles and those who protect them.” They commended the two justices who decided to give this issue another look and stated, “Good judges sometimes change their minds.”

The Intended Law

In January, the attorneys argued that the court should support a law passed unanimously in the Louisiana legislature in 2021 and signed into law by then-governor John Bel Edwards. Another unanimous legislature passed another law in 2022 to underline the intention that all claims, no matter how old, could be filed until June 2024. Edwards’ successor, former attorney general Jeff Landry, supported the law. And so has Landry’s successor as attorney general, Liz Murrill, who filed a brief in March urging the state’s high court to reconsider its decision.

Attorneys for the Diocese

Attorneys for the diocese maintained it was unconstitutional that the lookback law in question eliminated deadlines for old claims and that the church had a vested right not to be sued once the original deadline to file a lawsuit had passed. That deadline has moved back over the years, from just one year after the abuse occurred in the 1960s and 70s to longer time frames after a child became an adult, starting in the 1990s.

The Rehearing

In a phone interview, Attorney General Liz Murrill warned that there is still more work to do, and they have not won the case yet. They have until May 20 to file supplemental briefs with the court, but there will not be oral arguments like there were in January.


The Louisiana Supreme Court granting a rehearing is a positive move for child rape victims in Louisiana. The ability to file a civil lawsuit is essential to bringing abusers and enablers to justice. The possible overturning of the previous decision by the state’s high court highlights the importance of protecting the rights of the most vulnerable members of society.

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