Child Sex Abuse: Bill Allowing Later Lawsuits Dormant
By Ruben Rosario
Pioneer Press [Minnesota]
May 22, 2003
Efforts to give childhood victims of sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers will have to wait until next year.
Negotiators had reached consensus on a bill that would have let survivors up to the age of 32 seek damages, as long as the incident was reported to authorities. Current statutes of limitations allow such victims up to six years from the age of maturity, or age 24.
The conference committee's compromise bill never reached either the House or Senate floor for a vote before the regular session ended Monday.
Members of Survivors Network Minnesota, which had lobbied extensively for changes, did not like the final proposal and were somewhat pleased that it never came up for a vote.
"We did not like it because it eliminated the majority of victims who don't report or don't realize the injuries caused to them by the abuse until well later in life," said Bob Schwiderski, a survivor and the group's government relations liaison. Current law, he said, doesn't exclude that subgroup of victims.
He added that the group and others strongly supported another proposal, passed by the Senate, that would have allowed victims to file suit six years from the time they become aware of an injury caused by the abuse, and not necessarily from the time the alleged offense took place. Opponents of both measures, which included school associations, child-care centers, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and other church groups, argued that it would expose them to indefinite and costly liability.
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