A Middlesex Superior Court judge has dismissed a Burlington woman’s lawsuit alleging that her uncle sexually abused her and forced her to engage in sexual acts with other men for close to a decade when she was a child, citing the statute of limitations against filing such claims.
“To be stopped at the courthouse, it just felt unjust,” the alleged victim, Rosanne Sliney, 48, said Monday in a telephone interview.
She said in her civil complaint filed last winter against her uncle, Domenic A. Previte Jr., 70, of Waltham, that Previte not only committed the abuse but confessed to it years later in a signed letter to her, which she introduced as evidence.
“You were like a flower in springtime,” Previte wrote in the letter, according to a copy included in Sliney’s complaint. “I admired and respected you and loved you as my own daughter. . . . Somehow things got twisted. . . . I had confused my love for you with sex.”
A call to a number listed for Previte was not immediately returned Monday. His lawyer declined to comment on the dismissal and would not answer when asked about the authenticity of the letter.
The Globe does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, but is using Sliney’s name because she has chosen to go public with her allegations.
In a decision dated June 27, Judge Thomas R. Murtagh wrote that the three-year statute of limitations on bringing her lawsuit began to run in 1988, when Sliney was in her 20s and began to remember the alleged abuse, which occurred between roughly 1968 and 1977, beginning when she was 5.
Sliney signed an agreement in 1991 with her uncle shielding him from further legal action in exchange for a payment of $26,500. She contends that she did not understand the agreement at the time, because of her mental state. She also says that her family pressured her into signing, according to court records.
Sliney said Monday that Previte has not denied her allegations and has focused solely on the statute of limitations.
The current statute of limitations in Massachusetts for civil claims is three years from the time adult victims realize, or reasonably should have realized, that acts of abuse caused them to suffer harm.
The statute of limitations for filing a criminal complaint ran out on Sliney when she turned 43. She has been a vocal proponent of legislation pending on Beacon Hill that would eliminate or lengthen the statute of limitations for civil and criminal cases involving alleged sexual abuse.
“Child sexual abuse is like [the perpetrator] had a gun or a knife and they just ripped your soul and you had to heal from the inside out,” Sliney said.
She plans to appeal Murtagh’s decision.
“This ruling is an example of why we have to continue our efforts and work more vigorously to convince the Massachusetts Legislature to make changes in the law, so that future generations of children will be fully protected from sexual predators,” Sliney said in a statement released through her lawyer, Carmen L. Durso of Boston.