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Court of appeals reverses lower court ruling related to statute of limitations for child abuse lawsuits

Legal Gavel & Open Law Book
Legal Gavel & Open Law Book

A portion of a North Carolina law that gave adults that filed lawsuits connected to their abuse as children two additional years to files those claims is constitutional.

By a 2-1 decision, a panel of Court of Appeals judges reversed a ruling by trial judges who ruled that the General Assembly could not revive such a cause of action after the statute of limitations expired.

The case involves three former Gaston County student-athletes who are suing both the coach who was convicted of crimes against team members and the county school board.

They were members of wrestling team during the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

Court of Appeals Judge Allison Riggs, who was elevated by Gov. Roy Cooper this week to the Supreme Court , wrote the prevailing opinion, wrote that the Gaston County Board of Education had failed to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the state constitution contains an “express provision” that revived statute of limits are prohibited.

In the dissenting opinion, Judge Jeff Carpenter wrote the majority was overruling the results of several binding legal cases from the Court of Appeals, as well as a key 1933 state Supreme Court decision.

Former wrestling coach at East Gaston Gary Goins was convicted of 17 sex-related crimes in 2014 and sentenced to at least 34 years in prison.

Attorney General Josh Stein said he was pleased that the court upheld the portion of the SAFE Child Act, which gave people who were abused as children an opportunity to finally have their day in court.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to