Dunlea v. Dappen
Hawaii Supreme Court
924 P.2d 196 (1996)
Sandra Dunlea (plaintiff) alleged that her father, Howard Dappen (defendant), sexually abused her as a child. Dunlea had specific memories of assaults between the ages of 14 and 17 and less clear memories of assaults when she was as young as age five. Dunlea reported the abuse in 1964 when she was 17 years old. Dunlea was removed from Dappen’s home and placed in foster care, but Dappen was not prosecuted. In 1991 Dunlea spoke to Dappen, and Dappen stated that he would never forgive Dunlea for what she did to him in 1964. Dunlea had an emotional reaction to Dappen’s statement; began therapy; and discovered that the depression, suicidal ideations, shame, denial, and other emotions Dunlea had been dealing with were a result of psychological injury caused by Dappen’s abuse. Dunlea filed a complaint against Dappen in 1992, seeking damages for child sexual abuse. The statute of limitations was two years after the accrual of the cause of action, or two years after reaching the age of majority. Dunlea alleged that she did not realize that Dappen’s abuse was the cause of her injury until she began therapy in 1991. Dappen moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that Dunlea’s memory of the abuse was not repressed, that Dunlea was aware of the facts giving rise to the cause of action as a minor, and that the statute of limitations began to run in 1965 once Dunlea turned 18. The trial court granted Dappen’s motion to dismiss, and Dunlea appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Moon, C.J.)
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