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Minn. Court Rules on Abuse Suits

Jun 14, 2002 | AP

Alleged victims of child abuse can file lawsuits up until the age of 24, the state's high court ruled.

Because "a reasonable child is incapable of knowing that he or she has been sexually abused," the Minnesota Supreme Court decided 5-2 that the normal six-year statute of limitations doesn't start to run in sex abuse cases until the child turns 18.

The decision stems from a case of a man who was 13 when he was allegedly abused by a foster parent in 1993. He was removed from the home about five months later when he complained to a social worker.

When he turned 19, more than six years later, he filed a lawsuit that claimed the Professional Association of Treatment Homes negligently hired and retained the foster parent.

But a Hennepin County judge threw out the suit, saying the statute of limitations had expired, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.

Thursday's ruling means the lawsuit can go to trial.

Attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who has filed numerous sexual abuse lawsuits against clergy members, said it will help only a few other victims. He said that in most cases, it takes victims 10 or more years to come to grips with the abuse and recognize that they were injured.

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