The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the New London school district in a sex abuse lawsuit.
The student, called Jan Doe in court action, sued the New London district saying years of sexual abuse by former teacher and track coach Gina Sisk led to emotional problems.
The abuse began in 2000 when the student was 14 and continued through 2006. Doe did not file the suit until six years later, after she got counseling and determined her anxiety and depression were linked to the abuse.
The school district asked the that the case be dismissed based on the statute of limitations, but the district court ruled the case should proceed. During the appeal, Doe’s lawyer argued the statute of limitations didn’t begin to run until 2011 when her client discovered her mental problems were related to the earlier abuse. Also, she was a child when the abuse occurred, so the time limit should be extended.
The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the statute of limitations applies and child is defined as someone under the age 14 in these cases. Justice David Wiggens wrote the dissent, saying the court has previously misinterpreted how the definition of a child is applied, and it should be viewed in a way that gives the person involved a longer period of time to bring the action.