House committee advances bill that gives abuse victims more time for lawsuits

WLNE Radio

May 29, 2019

For Jim Scanlan, it wasn’t easy to go public about the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of a priest.

“There’s this shame, fear, guilt,” said Scanlan, of Providence. Lots of different feelings.”

But Scanlan is glad he did come forward to testify in favor of a bill that would extend the statute of limitations from seven years to 35 years, after the victim turns 18.

The House Judiciary Committee gave it unanimous approval.

Representative Carol Hagan McEntee, whose own sister came forward as a victim of clergy abuse, sponsored the bill.

“This is the people’s bill,” said McEntee, (D) South Kingstown. “This is Annie’s bill. This will make a difference for Rhode Island children into the future, and Rhode Island victims right now.”

There have been some changes to the bill since it came before the committee last year, including a seven year discovery period to gather evidence.

If the bill passes, anyone under the age of 53 can bring forward allegations — even if the alleged abuse occurred before the bill goes into effect.

“What this will do is open the floodgates for so many people to come forward and seek some justice, to seek some retribution, and to seek the support and the acknowledgment that this horrible experience happened to them,” said Peg Laghammer, Executive Director of the Day One organization.

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