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Senate committees advance bills to reform statutes of limitations

State Senate committees yesterday voted in favor of four bills that would reform the statutes of limitations in sexual assault-related cases. The next step for each bill is a vote by the full Senate chamber. Members of the House of Representatives approved the set of bills earlier in 2019.

PCAR supports legislation that reforms the criminal and civil statutes of limitation, including a retroactive window that would enable victims who are now time-barred to seek civil remedies.

Collectively, the bills work to remedy recommendations made in the 2018 Grand Jury Report on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. While the Grand Jury Report focused on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, this legislative package pertains to abuses against children across secular and religious institutions. Here’s how each bill voted out of committee yesterday in the Senate addresses the Grand Jury recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Reform criminal and civil statutes of limitations going forward

HB 962, sponsored by Rep. Mark Rozzi, would eliminate the criminal limitations going forward and extend the civil statutes of limitations to age 55. (Currently, victims have until age 30 to pursue civil lawsuits and criminal charges must be filed by the time they turn 50.) This bill was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee to also provide funds to victims of any age who need assistance in accessing counseling services.

Recommendation 2: Provide a window for a retroactive civil remedy for victims who are now time-barred

HB 963, sponsored by Rep. Jim Gregory, would amend the State Constitution to provide a retroactive civil remedy. This bill would must pass in two consecutive legislative sessions and pass a ballot referendum.

Recommendation 3: Enhance penalties for failure to report suspected child abuse

HB 1051, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, would elevate the penalty for failure to report known or suspected child abuse to a felony charge.

Recommendation 4: Prohibit forced non-disclosure agreements and those that limit victims from talking with law enforcement

HB 1171, sponsored by Rep. Tarah Toohil, would prohibit forced non-disclosure agreements that block victims of any age from reporting to law enforcement.

Please join PCAR in supporting these bills. Call your Senator today and urge them to support statutes of limitation reform in sexual assault-related cases by voting in favor of HB 962, HB 963, HB 1051, and HB 1171.