When are there exceptions to the statute of limitations for civil rights cases?
Normally, civil rights cases in Pennsylvania must be filed within two years of the incident. An exception to this rule, however, can be found for cases that involve child victims. Here, the clock on the statute of limitation doesn’t start ticking until the victims’ 18th birthday.
This exception was important for the following case (summary quoted below):
Woman sues school in 1997 sex assault case (By Terrie Morgan-Besecker firstname.lastname@example.org Law & Order Reporter)
SCRANTON – A Shickshinny woman who was sexually assaulted as a child at the Hunlock Creek Elementary School 14 years ago has filed a federal lawsuit against Northwest Area School District and the school, alleging officials failed to ensure her safety.
Attorney Anthony Moses of the law firm of Fellerman and Ciarimboli of Kingston filed the suit Friday on behalf of the woman. It is the policy of The Times Leader not to identify victims of sexual assault.
The woman, now age 19, was assaulted at age 6 by a 17-year-old male while in a bathroom at the elementary school on Nov. 7, 1997.
The suit does not identify her assailant, but news stories at the time identified the person as Jamie Houseknecht. Houseknecht admitted to assaulting the girl and was sentenced in December 1997 to spend three years in a juvenile detention facility. Houseknecht is not named as a defendant in the civil suit.
The lawsuit alleges officials at the school acted with deliberate disregard for the girl’s safety by allowing her assailant to gain entry into the school. It faults the school for a lack of supervision and security in monitoring the premises.
Contacted Friday, attorney Edward Ciarimboli said the woman suffered severe emotional and psychological injuries from the assault that she continues to deal with today. Once she became an adult, she decided to come forward to file the suit.
“This has been something she has struggled with the last 14 years and still struggles with today,” Ciarimboli said. “She felt very strongly about the safety of the school then and now.”
Under federal law, a civil rights case filed in Pennsylvania must be filed within two years of the date of the incident that is the basis of the suit. However, in cases involving a child victim, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child turns 18, Ciarimboli said.
The lawsuit seeks damages for violations of her civil rights, as well as several other counts, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery and false imprisonment.
Neither Superintendent Nancy Tkatch nor district solicitor Richard Galtman returned a phone message Friday.