Sexual abuse survivors share stories to persuade lawmakers to end statute of limitations

WJAR-TV, NBC-10 [Providence RI]

March 25, 2022

By Christina Vitale


 The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee is considering a bill to eliminate the time limit on sex abuse claims.

On Thursday it heard emotional testimony from sexual abuse survivors.

The civil statute of limitations is currently 35 years, or 7 years after an adult becomes aware of past abuse.

Now, lawmakers are trying to end the time limit on these specific types of cases.

South Kingstown Representative Carol Hagan MacEntee sponsors the bill and wants to strengthen the law, saying it would better protect children and provide support for victims.

Many speakers publicly shared their emotional stories of abuse.

Mary Banks says in the 1970s she was sexually abused by a priest at the age of 16 in Maine.

She kept it a secret until 2020 when she reported it to the Diocese.

Last year, Maine passed legislation to end the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims.

Mary hopes Rhode Island will do the same.

If passed, Rhode Island would join more than 20 states and 3 U.S. territories that have revived expired civil Statutes of Limitation in cases of child sex crimes.