Massachusetts law about child sexual abuse and statutes of limitations

Laws, regulations, and web sources on child sexual abuse law.

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Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 265 Crimes against the person:

MGL c.119, § 21 Mandated reporters defined

MGL c.119, § 51A Mandated reporting explained

MGL c.260, § 4C Statute of limitations for tort of sexual abuse of minors

MGL c.260, § 4C-1/2 Negligent supervision or conduct which caused or contributed to the sexual abuse of a minor

Statutes of limitations

35 years Statute of limitations

MGL c. 260, § 4C  Statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors (civil cases)
"Actions of tort alleging the defendant sexually abused a minor shall be commenced within 35 years of the acts alleged to have caused an injury or condition or within 7 years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that an emotional or psychological injury or condition was caused by said act, whichever period expires later; provided, however, that the time limit for commencement of an action under this section is tolled for a child until the child reaches eighteen years of age."

MGL c.260, § 4C-1/2 Negligent supervision or conduct causing or contributing to the sexual abuse of minor by another person (same limitation of action as for sexual abuse of minors)

MGL c.277, § 63 Statute of limitations for criminal cases: 27 years from reporting to law enforcement, or from victim turning 16

Public Law 117-176 Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act (2022)
Removes federal statute of limitations on civil cases filed by victims of child sex abuse, including sex trafficking, child pornography, and other federal crimes.

Selected cases

Web sources

List of child physical & sexual abuse services by Massachusetts county, Mass. Office for Victim Assistance.  
Find resources around the Commonwealth to help you. Services available in each Massachusetts county are listed. If it is an emergency call 911.

The sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, Mass. Attorney General.
91-page report with 3 main objectives: "(1) to determine whether children were still being sexually abused, or were at risk of being sexually abused by priests or other church workers; (2) to determine whether the conduct of the Archdiocese and its managers in responding to allegations of sexual abuse, or failing to prevent sexual abuse, was criminal and, if so, whether prosecution was appropriate and not time-barred by the statute of limitations, and; (3) to use all available means to ensure that children would be protected in the future."

Warning signs of child abuse or neglect, Mass. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Lists recognizable physical and behavioral indicators of child abuse or neglect.

Print sources

Defending the unthinkable: strategies for litigating charges of child sexual abuse, NACDL, 2018.

The evaluation of child sexual abuse allegations: A comprehensive guide to assessment and testimony, Wiley, 2009.

Life with my idiot family: True story of survival, courage and justice over childhood sexual abuse, by Kathy and Gary Picard, Lake Town Publ., 2017.

"Limitation of Actions," 51 Am. Jur. 2d Limitation of Actions, Tolling Exceptions §§ 150-196.

Myers on evidence of interpersonal violence: Child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, rape, stalking, and elder abuse, 6th ed.  Wolters Kluwer, 2016 with supplement. Chapter 6: Child sexual abuse.

"Running of limitations against action for civil damages for sexual abuse of child," 9 ALR5th 321.

Sexual assault trials, by Paul DerOhannesian, II, 4th ed., LexisNexis, 2014.

Trying sex offense cases in Massachusetts, 3rd ed., MCLE, loose-leaf. Chapter 6: Specific issues with child complainants.

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Last updated: May 22, 2023

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