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Published April 7, 2023

House Extends Time Limits for Sexual Assault Lawsuits 

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan
The North Dakota State House. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)
The North Dakota State House. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

Bill Previously Passed Senate 

BISMARCK – The North Dakota State House passed a bill this week to change the window of time for a person to file a lawsuit on the grounds of sexual assault. 

The current statute of limitation in the century code for someone to sue if they were sexually assaulted as an adult ranges from two to seven years after the act. Senate Bill 2282 seeks to change that window to nine years after the act. There is currently a ten-year limitation of time if a person was assaulted before they turned 18 years old, and the bill would change that window to 21 years. The 21 years would not begin until the person is 15 years old.  

Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Dis. 21, Fargo, said one in four women and one in nine men report being sexually assaulted. 

“Ten percent of children are sexually abused,” said Schneider. “Virtually all research shows that sexual violence cases have a very low rate of reporting and low rate of conviction because of the nature of the crimes and vulnerability of the victim. One third of victims never report their crimes. Most other states have taken action to eliminate or considerably extend their statutes of limitations.” 

Rep. Lawrence Klemin, R-dis. 47, Bismarck, said the extensions are not very conservative. 

“You don’t even have to give the state notice before you sue it,” said Rep. Klemin. “So, the state doesn’t even get an opportunity to evaluate the claim. I don’t think this is a good bill. I think the statute of limitations are appropriate the way they are. I don’t believe we need to be giving someone 21 more years to sue our political subdivisions and claim damages. Who’s going to know about this stuff after that time has passed?” 

The amended bill passed the House by a vote of 56 to 33 and will be sent back to the Senate for further consideration. The original version of SB2282 passed the Senate 47-0. 

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