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Maryland House of Delegates OKs bill lifting age limits on filing child sexual abuse lawsuits

The Maryland House of Delegates on Monday approved a bill removing the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits arising from child sexual abuse.

The House passed the bill by a bipartisan vote of 136-2 without debate, sending it to the state Senate for consideration.

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The bill would allow victims of child sexual abuse to file a lawsuit anytime. And victims who previously were barred from filing a lawsuit because of the prior limits would have a two-year window to file a lawsuit.

Under current law, child sexual abuse victims have until age 38 to file a lawsuit. The law was expanded from age 25 to age 38 two years ago.

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The vote to lift the statute of limitations was applauded by advocates for sexual abuse victims.

The Maryland House has given preliminary approval to a sweeping bill that would remove restrictions on when victims of child sexual abuse can file lawsuits. It also gives anyone who was previously unable to file a lawsuit because of the statute of limitations a two-year window to do so.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said that if the bill becomes law, it would take Maryland from having “one of the worst” statute of limitations laws to “one of the best.”

“Survivors of sexual abuse, both child victims and adult survivors, will have a fairer opportunity to seek justice in this state,” read a statement from SNAP Maryland.

The two-year window for lawsuits “will open the doors of the courts to allow past victims a chance at justice and to expose predators,” SNAP Maryland said.

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There’s been an increasing focus on child sexual abuse as the public has become more aware of the scope of abuse committed by Catholic priests, which bill sponsor Del. C.T. Wilson cited in arguing in favor of his bill Saturday.

Locally, it was recently revealed that 10 adults in positions of power at the private Key School in Annapolis sexually abused students in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

And former sports doctor Larry Nassar was the focus of intense media attention after hundreds of athletes — including Olympic champion gymnasts — reported that he molested them under the guise of medical treatment.

An explosive grand jury report on pervasive child abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania has called into question the actions — or inactions — of late Baltimore Cardinal William H. Keeler, who previously was hailed for his transparency in handling abuse cases.

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