A new child sexual abuse law opens a window for victims

KXRM - Fox 21 [Colorado Springs CO]

January 7, 2022

By Rachel Saurer

January 1, 2022 marked the conclusion of a long road for lawmakers in the effort to provide justice for victims of sexual child abuse.

“Some of my clients were involved back in 2006 in trying to do something similar and there was very, very strong pushback by lobbyists in particular for the Catholic Church,” said Zach Warzel, Keating Wagner Polidori Free Partner.

The law had been pushed several times in the past several years, meeting similar ends. This year, lawmakers said the environment was just right for the law to pass.

This new law allows victims to come forward and file claims for the abuse more than 50 years after the event has occurred.

“Children should not be forced to figure out their legal rights and come forward, you know, within a very short amount of time after reaching the age of 18. Now, they can come forward when they’re ready to and hold the perpetrators and the institutions accountable,” Warzel said.

Another piece of the law would allow victims to sue organizations that have had a hand in the abuse by concealing it or by simply allowing the person to be a part of their organization.

Lawmakers cited the Colorado District Attorney’s report of Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse of children in Colorado from 1958 to 2019 where it says that during that time, 166 children were victimized by 43 Roman Catholic priests.

“The Catholic bishops in Colorado have been covering this up for decades. We know that because we have been working in Colorado for decades. It’s time for survivors to have a voice and bring accountability, transparency and truth,” said Jeff Anderson, trial attorney for Jeff Anderson & Associates.

Lawmakers say they also hope to bring this accountability to sports organizations, especially following the Nassar settlement last month.

There’s a limited time for survivors to come forward. According to the law, victims have until the January 1, 2025 to take action so people are encouraged to file as soon as they can.