Lawmakers Look to Change Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations
Downloaded March 4, 2003
Minnesota lawmakers are again trying to extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
A bill was introduced Monday in both the House and Senate. Under current law, childhood victims of abuse have until the age of 24 to file civil suits against their abusers. One proposal would extend that statute of limitations to the age of 48.
The other measure would give victims six years from the time they discover the abuse, to file suit, no matter what their age.
Paul Dymit's life was in shambles last year, but once hospitalized and on a suicide watch, he came to grips with what happened to him at Jordan High School throughout his high school days. He says he was repeatedly sexually abused by teacher James Simon, who just last month was sentenced to seven years in prison for molesting dozens of boys.
"My life by the time I left high school, was one big vicious circle of addictions, pain, suffering of lying and cheating," said Dymit. "As a result, I was abused from 1986 to 1991.
Dymit is now in his thirties beyond the statute of limitations. He and others abused as children, say it's not uncommon to not come to terms with the abuse until later in life.
One sex abuse victim-survivor Ted Krammer says, "When I was ten years old, a priest took my innocence from me. I have not been able to effectively deal with that up until last year.
Two women have filed suit against a church member, but they say more than a half dozen other victim's still struggling to come to terms with what happened, may not deal with it before age 24.
"By the time they get up that nerve and need to find some healing, they're going to be past their statute of limitations," said alleged sexual abuse victim Amber Long.
Senator Gary Kubly says, "It's an issue that pushes it into your subconscious for a sustained period of time. I'm not sure there should be a statute of limitations at all."
Last year, the bill to extend the statute of limitations, went nowhere at the capitol, but survivors believe once lawmakers hear their stories, they'll be more sympathetic.
They fanned out across the capitol talking to legislators telling them how they were sexually abused as children ten, twenty and thirty years ago.
Supporters say one reason the bill was defeated in the past, is lobbying by churches opposed to such a long period of time to report abuse.
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