Bill hopes to give victims of child sexual abuse extra time to file civil cases
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - State lawmakers could soon consider a bill that would give victims of child sexual abuse more time to file a civil case against their abusers.
Child protection advocates say there is an epidemic of child sexual abuse. Over 13% of children are at risk of being sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday according to Kathryn Robb, executive director of Child USAdvocacy. Robb says it can take years, even decades for victims to come forward. She’s also a survivor of child sexual abuse.
“I didn’t come forward publicly until I was in my 40s. A lot earlier than most,” Robb said.
Advocates are pushing for SB127 that would raise the civil statue of limitations for these crimes from six years to 36 years after the victim has turned 19. According to the bill, victims can file civil suits up to age 55. Current law says the suits must be filed before a victim is 25.
“It’s about justice,” Senator Merika Coleman (D-District 19) who is sponsoring the bill said.
Coleman says studies show the average age at which a survivor actually reports is 52 years old.
“Because of that that’s why many of these states have passed this length of the statute of limitations. You know that’s at the time where many of them finally get the courage to do it or have the finances to be able to file these civil suits,” Coleman said.
Coleman and others say its past time to shift the financial burden from taxpayers to the actual perpetrators of child sex abuse.
“Many of these kids that are not adults have had extensive medical costs, mental health evaluations, counseling through the years, other social services that taxpayers have had to pay for,” Coleman said.
“These types of bills would also expose hidden predators and that again makes the kids of Alabama safer,” Robb said.
We’re told several states have passed similar legislation. Coleman says the bill is getting blowback from the insurance lobby but she and others are hopeful lawmakers will do the right thing and keep kids safe.
We’re told several states have passed similar legislation. Coleman says the bill is receiving opposition from some in the insurance lobby but she and others are hopeful lawmakers will do the right thing and keep kids safe.
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