Extending time for sexual abuse lawsuits gets committee approval

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 5:08 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It’s estimated 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 16 boys experience sexual abuse as a child, and those victims have a time limit to report such abuse for civil litigation.

A bill to extend or eliminate that time limit for filing suit has been approved by a legislative committee.

Richard Windmann is president of Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse. Windmann, who was sexually abused at the age of seven, told committee members most victims keep the secret for decades.

“You don’t say anything because you don’t want your friends, as children, calling you names. And you keep it a secret,” said Windmann.

According to Windmann and the bill’s sponsor, victims come forward at the average age of 52.

“By the time most victims were ready to come forward, the courthouse doors were locked, shutting victims out of justice,” said Rep. Jason Hughes, bill sponsor.

Hughes says one key reason to extend the time for lawsuits is to prevent child predators from hiding.

“Statute of limitations reform identifies hidden child predators that allow the abuse to the public so children will not be abused in the future,” said Hughes.

Windmann says for childhood victims the suffering goes on for decades.

“Without exception, all survivors have PTSD, depression. Some of them have dissociative disorder and when that doesn’t work, suicide. And they commit suicide in numbers.”

The bill was approved in committee to extend the time for filing from ten years to 35 years past the alleged victim’s 18th birthday, unless the abuser has been convicted of a crime. Then there is no time limit to file a civil suit. The bill now moves to the house floor.

To listen to the committee hearing, click HERE.

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