Washington Sexual Abuse

Many people have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an individual trusted by the abused or the abused person’s family. Most of us are familiar with cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church due to several media publicized cases of priest sexual abuse, but church sex scandals are just one example of an issue that affects many in Washington. Washington sexual abuse also occurs at schools, camps, nursing homes, mental health facilities, and other places where circumstances allow. For example, there is sexual assault reform in legislation over rape and sexual abuse suffered in Washington correctional facilities. Speaking out about sexual abuse is important in two ways: It helps prevent the abuser from hurting anyone else and it helps bring a sense of closure for the abused. Speaking out can be scary, but you and your loved ones are not alone. Lawyers such as Sam Rogatinsky specialize in helping you find your voice in court.


Sexual Abuse

Unlike clergy abuse, sexual abuse can be perpetrated by anyone and occur anywhere. The most common places for sexual abuse to occur are schools, camps, nursing homes, mental health facilities, group homes, and organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. Countless children have been sexually abused in Washington by those who were entrusted with their care, such as teachers, Boy Scout leaders, camp counselors, and so on. These adults are supposed to protect children, but instead they willfully harm them.

Children are not the only victims, however. At nursing homes and mental health facilities all over Washington, social workers and psychologists take advantage of the vulnerable adults that they are supposed to be protecting. Fortunately, the perpetrators can be made to pay for their transgressions, but you must seek representation. Sam will help to make sure that everything possible is done to assure that your suffering has not been in vain.


Clergy Abuse

Although the Catholic Church is not the only venue for sexual abuse, it has been the most publicized due to the lack of bishop accountability. When the media picked up on the fact that bishops were just moving sexually abusive priests to another church, news outlets ran with the story. The truth is that clergy abuse includes not only Catholic priests, but rabbis, ministers, reverends, pastors, office staff at places of worship, religious youth directors, and anyone who works for a place of worship. Sexual abuse survivors from Washington and four other states just won a landmark case against Jesuit Missionaries and were awarded over $166 million. If you or someone you know has been sexually abused by someone in this category, you now have an avenue of help available to you. You do not have to be a victim anymore. Contact Sam to find out how you can take control of what happened and help make sure it doesn’t happen to others.


Washington’s Civil Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse

Washington has its own statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse. This statute of limitations places a cap on the length of time in which someone can be taken to civil court for having committed sexual abuse. It is important to take action before the statute of limitations runs out, leaving no other way to make the abuser pay.
RCW 4.16.340

Actions based on childhood sexual abuse.

(1) All claims or causes of action based on intentional conduct brought by any person for recovery of damages for injury suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse shall be commenced within the later of the following periods:

(a) Within three years of the act alleged to have caused the injury or condition;

(b) Within three years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by said act; or

(c) Within three years of the time the victim discovered that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought:

PROVIDED, That the time limit for commencement of an action under this section is tolled for a child until the child reaches the age of eighteen years.

(2) The victim need not establish which act in a series of continuing sexual abuse or exploitation incidents caused the injury complained of, but may compute the date of discovery from the date of discovery of the last act by the same perpetrator which is part of a common scheme or plan of sexual abuse or exploitation.

(3) The knowledge of a custodial parent or guardian shall not be imputed to a person under the age of eighteen years.

(4) For purposes of this section, “child” means a person under the age of eighteen years.

(5) As used in this section, “childhood sexual abuse” means any act committed by the defendant against a complainant who was less than eighteen years of age at the time of the act and which act would have been a violation of chapter 9A.44 RCW or RCW 9.68A.040 or prior laws of similar effect at the time the act was committed.

[1991 c 212 § 2; 1989 c 317 § 2; 1988 c 144 § 1.]


Finding — Intent — 1991 c 212: “The legislature finds that:

(1) Childhood sexual abuse is a pervasive problem that affects the safety and well-being of many of our citizens.

(2) Childhood sexual abuse is a traumatic experience for the victim causing long-lasting damage.

(3) The victim of childhood sexual abuse may repress the memory of the abuse or be unable to connect the abuse to any injury until after the statute of limitations has run.

(4) The victim of childhood sexual abuse may be unable to understand or make the connection between childhood sexual abuse and emotional harm or damage until many years after the abuse occurs.

(5) Even though victims may be aware of injuries related to the childhood sexual abuse, more serious injuries may be discovered many years later.

(6) The legislature enacted RCW 4.16.340 to clarify the application of the discovery rule to childhood sexual abuse cases. At that time the legislature intended to reverse the Washington supreme court decision in Tyson v. Tyson, 107 Wn.2d 72, 727 P.2d 226 (1986).

It is still the legislature’s intention that Tyson v. Tyson, 107 Wn.2d 72, 727 P.2d 226 (1986) be reversed, as well as the line of cases that state that discovery of any injury whatsoever caused by an act of childhood sexual abuse commences the statute of limitations. The legislature intends that the earlier discovery of less serious injuries should not affect the statute of limitations for injuries that are discovered later.” [1991 c 212 § 1.]

Intent — 1989 c 317: “(1) The legislature finds that possible confusion may exist in interpreting the statute of limitations provisions for child sexual abuse civil actions in RCW 4.16.190 and 4.16.340 regarding the accrual of a cause of action for a person under age eighteen. The legislature finds that amending RCW 4.16.340 will clarify that the time limit for commencement of an action under RCW 4.16.340 is tolled until the child reaches age eighteen. The 1989 amendment to RCW 4.16.340 is intended as a clarification of existing law and is not intended to be a change in the law.

(2) The legislature further finds that the enactment of chapter 145, Laws of 1988, which deleted specific reference to RCW 9A.44.070, 9A.44.080, and 9A.44.100(1)(b) from RCW9A.04.080 and also deleted those specific referenced provisions from the laws of Washington, did not intend to change the statute of limitations governing those offenses from seven to three years.” [1989 c 317 § 1.]

Application — 1988 c 144: “Sections 1 and 2 of this act apply to all causes of action commenced on or after June 9, 1988, regardless of when the cause of action may have arisen. To this extent, sections 1 and 2 of this act apply retrospectively.” [1988 c 144 § 3.]


  • Huffington Post. April 3, 2011. Prison Sexual Assault Reform Won’t Cover Immigrant Detention Centers.
  • Reuters. March 25, 2011. Northwest Jesuits Reach $166 million Sex Abuse Settlement.
  • Washington Legislative Data: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=4.16.340