Maryland State Supreme Court Will Review Constitutionality of Child Victims Act in September

Law removed the statute of limitations for Maryland child sexual abuse lawsuits, allowing claims to be pursued against perpetrators and entities that enabled the conduct, regardless of how long ago the assault occurred.

A long-anticipated challenge to the Maryland Child Victims Act will go before the state’s highest court in September, to determine whether it is constitutional for the legislature to remove the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits in Maryland.

The Maryland state legislature passed the new law in April 2023, allowing claims to be filed against abusers and institutions that enabled the conduct, regardless of how long ago the acts occurred. The legislation has been hailed as a landmark achievement for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, since many individuals are unable to reach a point where they seek justice until long after the typical statute of limitations has expired.

The Maryland Child Victims Act of 2023 was passed just days after a long-awaited Baltimore Archdiocese child sex abuse report was released by the Maryland Attorney General, which detailed information about Catholic priests that abused children in Maryland over the last 60 years, including the names of 146 priests, deacons, seminarians and others who have been credibly accused by more than 300 victims and witnesses that came forward during the investigation.

However, lawmakers knew the law would face legal challenges, and included a provision that allowed an interlocutory appeal to be immediately pursued, allowing the Maryland Supreme Court to consider the case before any individual lawsuit results in a final judgment. While this measure does introduce substantial delays before survivors of sexual abuse are able to obtain justice, it will also avoid the need for each individual to recount their trauma at trial before the Maryland Supreme Court evaluates the constitutionality of the new law.

Learn More About

Sexual Assault Lawsuits

Last month, a letter (PDF) issued by the Supreme Court of Maryland announced that it will hear a challenge to the law’s constitutionality brought by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on either September 5, 6, 9, or 10.

The Mormon church faces a lawsuit filed since the Act was passed, which alleges that the organization did nothing to stop a minister from sexually assaulting a young girl, even after a probation officer warned the church that the minister, Frederick Edvalson, should not be left alone with children. Edvalson, now deceased, pled guilty to felony sex charges in 1985. However, the civil lawsuit filed against the Mormon Church said the organization failed to take minimal steps to keep the girl safe.

Immediately after the lawsuit was filed, the Mormon church initiated a challenge to the Maryland Child Victim’s Act, saying that the underlying claim should be time-barred, and arguing that the new Maryland sexual abuse law is unconstitutional.

Acknowledging that the law was likely to face numerous challenges, Maryland Chief U.S. District Judge James Bredar granted the Maryland Attorney General the ability to intervene in the case in March, expediting it to the Maryland Supreme Court so that the constitutionality of the law could be answered as quickly as possible.

The state has been prepared for such a challenge since the law was originally passed, and Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown has vowed to defend the state law’s constitutionality.

The specific date of the hearing before the Maryland Supreme Court is expected to be announced in the near future.

0 Comments

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Uber Driver Sexual Assaults and Misconduct Reports Must Be Disclosed in Lawsuit Discovery
Uber Driver Sexual Assaults and Misconduct Reports Must Be Disclosed in Lawsuit Discovery (Posted today)

A federal magistrate judge is forcing Uber to hand over potentially hundreds of thousands of incident files involving reports of passengers who suffered sexual misconduct or sexual assault at the hands of the rideshare service's drivers.

Abbott May Remove Infant Formula for Preemies Off the Market Due to Similac NEC Lawsuits
Abbott May Remove Infant Formula for Preemies Off the Market Due to Similac NEC Lawsuits (Posted yesterday)

Abbott Laboratories is considering removing Similac infant formula products designed for preterm babies from the market, as it faces hundreds of lawsuits claiming the products increase the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, which puts newborns at a high risk of permanent injuries and death.

Information About Suboxone Dental Claims To Be Exchanged By Parties in MDL
Information About Suboxone Dental Claims To Be Exchanged By Parties in MDL (Posted 2 days ago)

A federal judge has ordered parties involved in Suboxone dental decay lawsuits to submit proposals for exchanging information that will guide the selection of representative bellwether claims for early test trials.