Dies in Committee: Reviver Statute – Statute of Limitations for Sexual Contact with a Child

Under current law, the time a person has to bring an action for an injury resulting from being sexually assaulted or subject to incest as a child, or from being subject to sexual contact by a member of the clergy as a child, is any time before the injured party reaches the age of 35. Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) introduced Senate Bill 262/Assembly Bill 348 which would provide a three-year reviver window for plaintiffs to file childhood sexual abuse claims, regardless of the previous expiration of the statute of limitations.

The legislation had bipartisan support, with Republican Reps. Horlacher, A. Ott, Neylon, Rohrkaste, and Sen. Olsen signing on as co-authors. But both bills died in committee.

For over 100 years, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has consistently rejected reviver statutes as unconstitutional. The court subscribes to the view that the expiration of a statute of limitations vests a property right in a defendant. The resurrection of a time-barred claim therefore amounts to a taking of property without due process of law.

For more on the constitutional issues arising from reviver statutes, see this legal memo provided in the context of prior Wisconsin reviver legislation.