A Story of Healing from Child Molestation
In December 1975, Greg Kelly was sexually molested by a long-time friend of the family, someone who knew Greg’s parents over decades. Greg was in the 6th grade at the time, barely a pre-teen. It was an experience which made Greg feel as though he was dying.
Watch a YouTube video of Greg’s interview at the National Crime Victim Bar Association Conference in 2014. He’s interviewed with his crime victim injury lawyer, Brian Kent, about the challenges they faced and how they were able to succeed.
In 1976, a year after the abuse occurred, the abuser became a judge in Delaware. About 35 years later, in 2010, Greg’s abuser admitted to the abuse, resigned from the bench and was eventually disbarred. His public admission:
“On or about the evening of Dec. 28, 1975 and Dec. 29, 1975, while present in my home located in Townsend, Delaware, I molested Gregory Kelly, then age 11, through inappropriate sexual contact. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to Gregory Kelly and his family.”
This wasn’t accomplished through a criminal case. In fact, because the criminal statute of limitations in Delaware had expired, there was no way to seek justice through the criminal courts. Instead, due to Greg’s courage and resolve, the abuser was held accountable through a civil lawsuit.
Delaware’s Special Law Opened a Window for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
In 2009, Delaware passed a special law which allowed victims of child sexual abuse – whose cases were previously time-barred – to file civil lawsuits. The law opened a specific window, 2 years. Greg filed his case within that 2 year window. Many states have considered some version of a law similar to the Delaware law. However, only a handful of states have enacted such laws. As more and more cases of child molestation are exposed, we can certainly expect to see states passing these laws. If you would like to discuss filing a civil lawsuit for child molestation or child sex abuse, you must speak to a lawyer immediately.
Finding a Civil Sex Abuse Lawyer
Greg had difficulties finding a lawyer who was willing to take on a sitting, well-respected state court judge. Many injury lawyers in Delaware slammed their doors in Greg’s face. Eventually, Greg found Brian Kent, who had his reservations, but agreed to take the case after speaking to Greg. Brian knew that Greg was telling the truth and because the judge was still on the bench, Brian and his fellow law firm partners felt it was their moral obligation to take the case and represent Greg.
In order to represent Greg, Brian needed to be admitted to practice law in Delaware on a special basis, just for this one case. He needed a local/Delaware lawyer to do that. However, Brian was laughed at for taking the case. Some local lawyers even threatened him.
Every call that I was making, I was basically being laughed at. What started happening was, we started receiving calls from lawyers in Delaware, very prominent ones, threatening us that if we took the case, we’d never be welcome in Delaware again. There was a severe blow back from the legal community that I really did not expect. – Brian Kent, on contacting local lawyers about Greg’s case
Eventually, Brian did find another lawyer, someone who was courageous enough to stick his neck out for Greg and Brian. The case proceeded and eventually, the abuser admitted to the abuse. The admission was something Greg was not willing to negotiate. He knew he wanted his abuser to admit to what he had done, and he wasn’t willing to end the case without it.
Survivors of Child Sex Abuse – Justice Through the Civil Courts
Greg’s story can help other survivors of child sexual abuse and molestation. In addition, his story is a great success story of a man who refused to take “no” for an answer and sought justice. If it hadn’t been for Greg’s courage, his abuser might still be on the bench. Because the criminal statute of limitations had run out, Greg’s only choice was to file a civil lawsuit.
Filing a civil child molestation lawsuit is an incredibly personal decision which belongs solely to the survivor of abuse. Many individuals are simply unaware of their legal rights to pursue justice through the civil courts. The reality is that most people believe their legal rights begin and end in the criminal justice system. That is completely untrue.
Individuals who were harmed by another person or business entity may be able to file civil lawsuits. This applies to cases of child molestation and abuse. More importantly, this applies regardless of whether a criminal case is barred by the statute of limitations or never even brought in the first place. Ultimately, a child sex abuse survivor, whose criminal case is unsuccessful, for whatever reason, can still succeed with a civil case. That’s exactly what happened in Greg’s case. Ultimately, Greg was able to turn the tables on his abuser.
Greg Kelly faced the man who abused him as a child and won. His story is an amazing tale of courage and healing. It was an honor for our law firm’s lawyers to get to know and help Greg.
- Common Questions Answered by a Civil Sex Assault Lawyer in Pennsylvania & New Jersey Victims of sexual assaults such as rape or other non-consenting sexual contact may be able to pursue justice in the civil courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
- Evidence of Sexual Abuse & Assault in Civil Sex Abuse Lawsuits When deciding whether to proceed with a civil sex abuse-assault lawsuit, the victim must consider the chances of success. Whether a civil sex abuse lawsuit will be successful depends on many issues, such as whether the statute of limitations will bar the claim. Learn more about statute of limitations in sex abuse lawsuits in Pennsylvania.