Thursday, January 27, 2011

Statute of limitations
No Statute of Limitations for Civil Damages in Child Sex Abuse
State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford) is seeking to prospectively end Connecticut’s 30-year statute of limitation on civil damages in child sex abuse claims, saying such crimes are so heinous and the effects so life-altering that the perpetrators should be held civilly responsible for their actions for life.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Bye has introduced Senate Bill 784, “An Act Concerning the Limitation of Time for Bringing a Civil Action for Damages by a Victim of Child Sexual Abuse.”

The bill seeks to change the language of Connecticut General Statutes section 52-577d, which currently states that, “ . . . no action to recover damages for personal injury to a minor, including emotional distress, caused by sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual assault may be brought by such person later than thirty years from the date such person attains the age of majority.”

The age of majority in Connecticut is 18.

Sen. Bye’s bill prospectively eliminates that 30-year time limit, meaning that a civil lawsuit seeking damages for any act of child sexual abuse committed “on or after” the passage and effective date of the legislation could be brought at any time in the future.

“I have personally heard too many heart-wrenching stories of childhood sexual abuse that went mute and buried for decades because of shame or fear. These victims need their day in court to bring their abuser to justice and to provide some measure of closure,” Sen. Bye said. “Out of a sense of compassion and fairness, I have tried unsuccessfully in the past to retroactively eliminate the 30-year the statute of limitations. Now it is my hope that a prospective-only bill will alleviate the concerns that some lawmakers have and will give them the confidence and the clarity they need to support this much-needed change.”

In 2009 and 2010, as a member of the House of Representatives, Sen. Bye unsuccessfully sought to retroactively eliminate the statute of limitations in civil cases involving childhood sex abuse claims. She did so in part due to her legislative representation of several childhood victims of Dr. George Reardon, a former physician at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford who is believed to have molested dozens—if not hundreds—of his youngest patients.

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