• Key point. Minors who are sexually molested by church workers may not sue their church after the statute of limitations has expired. Generally, the statute of limitations begins to run on a minor's 18th birthday. In some states the statute of limitations does not begin to run until an adult survivor of child sexual molestation "discovers" that he or she has experienced physical or emotional suffering as a result of the molestation. Other states do not recognize this so—called "discovery rule."
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a 33—year—old adult's lawsuit against a school counselor who molested him when he was 11 years old was barred by the statute of limitations. The counselor expressed an interest in the victim, and visited him in his home on several occasions. He eventually asked the boy's mother if he could take her son to a remote cabin that he owned. The mother agreed, and the counselor took the victim to the cabin several times. During these trips the counselor repeatedly raped the boy. Prior to these incidents, the victim had no childhood problems. He was a well—adjusted, active student who enjoyed school. His mother described him as having been, before the abuse, a bright, energetic child and a talented student. The victim's behavior changed drastically after he became acquainted with the counselor. He skipped school, became involved with crime, and abused drugs and alcohol. He was transferred to a correctional institution, and never graduated from high school. He entered a chemical dependency program when he was 19, but continued to abuse alcohol until he was 28. The victim never discussed the abuse with his mother or anyone else, because he was embarrassed and ashamed and thought of himself as a "bad person." When the victim was 22 years old he unexpectedly encountered the counselor again when the counselor and a young boy entered his place of employment. The victim became enraged and "freaked out" because he suspected that the counselor was molesting the young boy and such behavior "shouldnt happen to little kids." He did not explain to his co—workers the reason for his reaction.