The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act usually protects servicemembers. But in some cases, the SCRA helps child abuse victims find justice.
One of the lesser-known parts of the SCRA is that it puts a hold on the statute of limitations in any case involving servicemembers, according to the American Bar Association. This includes cases brought by or against a servicemember.
Courts cannot include the period during which a servicemember is on active military status when calculating any limitations for filing suit. This element of the law played an essential part in helping a child abuse victim to bring a suit against his abuser.
How the SCRA Helps Child Abuse Victims
One problem in litigating child abuse cases is often many years before the victim can bring their abuser to court. As a result, some abuse cases go unprosecuted, despite a longer statute of limitations on this type of crime.
A suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court demonstrated just this principle, according to The Lompoc Record. The suit alleges that national and Region 122 officials of the American Youth Soccer Association — the largest youth soccer organization in the United States — allowed Terence Paul Stevens to retain his position as coach after his arrested and admission of abusing children. It states that he used his position to gain access to and “groom” youths for sexual abuse.
The plaintiff, who is not named in the suit, is now an adult living in Florida, according to the news source. However, he alleges that the abuse started in 1985.
Normally, a case couldn’t be brought after so much time. But the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is enabling him because of its provisions for holding the statute of limitations.
Police arrested Stevens in 1988 for abusing the plaintiff, according to the Record. However, when AYSO officials learned about the arrest, they didn’t warn the parents. They also made no attempts to try to find out if he abused anyone else.
They also failed to reprimand or expel Stevens, allowing him to remain a volunteer with the organization. He continued to work and volunteer in the area until his arrest in 2008 on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.
The SCRA helps child abuse victims to fight for justice in this case. Compliance with this law is important. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service can help.