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Josh Duggar and the Duggar clan may have thought they were in the clear when the statute of limitations for criminal sexual molestation passed. However, the Duggars may soon find themselves defending their actions in civil court.
One of Josh's victims is reportedly preparing to file a civil suit against Josh and his parents Jim Bob and Michelle.
If the statute of limitations is passed, how can the victim still sue?
Earlier this year, Josh Duggar was exposed for allegedly molesting five underage girls when he was 15 years old. It turns out that four of the five victims were his sisters. The fifth victim was a babysitter for the family.
While the story only went public this year, Josh had told his parents about the molestation, and they reported it to the police 12 years ago. If the allegations are true, Josh could have been charged with sexual assault in the second degree, a class B felony punishable by at least five years and as much as 20 years in prison.
However, the statute of limitations -- the time limit of when charges can be brought for a crime -- for a class B felony is only three years in Arkansas. There are some exceptions for when the victim is a minor, but those exceptions do not apply in this case. Since the statute of limitations on the criminal charges has passed, Josh can no longer be prosecuted for molesting the girls.
For civil cases, the statute of limitations is different.
According to Arkansas' Code, "any civil action based on sexual abuse which occurred when the injured was a minor but is not discovered until after the injured person reaches the age of majority shall be brought within three years from the time of discovery of the sexual abuse by the injured party. ... 'Time of discovery' means when the injured party discovers the effect of the injury or condition attributable to the childhood sexual abuse."
Supposedly, the fifth victim is claiming that she only recently discovered the effect of the abuse on her. This means she has three years from the date of the discovery to sue. However, the Duggars may try to dismiss the lawsuit claiming that the victim probably discovered the effects of the abuse twelve years ago, when they reported the abuse to the police.
Will the Duggars finally answer the hard questions about the abuse cover up? We'll have to wait for the victim to file her lawsuit.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.