Southern Baptist Leader Accused of Sexual Assault
The plaintiffs in a sexual assault lawsuit against Southern Baptist leader Paul Pressler are appealing a lower court’s decision that the allegations were filed too late. One plaintiff is alleging that Pressler raped him for years beginning when he was 14 years old. Pressler is a former state legislator and appeals court judge who is widely known to have advocated for a literal interpretation of the Bible.
When asked for a response, Pressler and his attorneys told the press that they were confident that the lower court judge correctly interpreted the law. The lawsuit prompted three other men to file affidavits corroborating the claims made by the original plaintiff. The men claimed that Pressler either groped them or attempted to initiate sexual contact with them. Additionally, a local church dismissed Pressler as a youth group leader in the 1970s after another incident.
The Statute of Limitations
In most tort or injury claim lawsuits, Texas has a statute of limitations of two years. That means that you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit or your claim will not be heard by the court. However, sexual assault cases are different. Adults have five years to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator of sexual assault while children (those who were minors at the time of the assault) have 15 years from their 18th birthday.
Attorneys for the plaintiff filed a 110-page appeal of the decision to dismiss the lawsuit against Pressler. Essentially, they argued that the statute of limitations should be tolled because the plaintiff had not yet come to terms with the sexual assault. Therefore, it would have been unlikely or impossible for him to come forward while he was still working through the issue.
The question that will be answered by the appeals court judge is important. Many states have moved to increase the statute of limitations on sexual assault claims, especially those involving children. On the other hand, it adds a layer of complexity that could potentially void the statute of limitations entirely if the appeals court rules in favor of the plaintiff. Essentially, any plaintiff would be able to determine exactly when they came to terms with the abuse they suffered and then the statute of limitations would begin ticking down then.
Will the Plaintiff Win the Motion?
Probably not. The law specifies a clear path to restitution for plaintiffs and as angering as it is to those who have been victimized by sexual assault, the statute of limitations cannot be tolled to a psychological breakthrough. However, the lawsuit may have more of an impact than most people recognize. Often, attorneys will take cases that they believe in simply to spur the legislature into action and increase the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases against minors. Often, victims feel ashamed and responsible for the incident and their attackers push that belief system as hard as they can because they’re easier to control.
Talk to a Houston, TX Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured by the malice or negligence of another person, call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers today for a free consultation.