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Legislation would give Indiana child sexual abuse victims more time to file civil lawsuits

Senator Aaron Freeman filed Senate Bill 135
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Posted at 11:17 AM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 11:20:56-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A state senator has filed legislation that would remove the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator or other responsible parties.

Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, filed Senate Bill 135 which has been assigned to the senate judiciary committee.

Currently, child sexual abuse victims have seven years from their 18th birthday or seven years from the time they discover the abuse to file a civil lawsuit.

Freeman, a former deputy prosecutor, said many survivors can’t process what happened to them until long after the age of 25.

"I just think that's not enough,” Freeman said. “A lot of times the facts and evidence bear out that often times the victims of sexual assault don't even realize or come to terms with it until much later into adulthood. I think we in Indiana need to provide a window of opportunity for these victims to go to court and have their case heard if they want."

Freeman said the bill has failed several years in a row, but he’s confident it will get a hearing this year.

“I hope my colleagues in the legislature see the wisdom in getting these victims the opportunity,” Freeman said. “At the end of the day, there needs to be a window of opportunity for victims who were minors that were victims of sexual assault to have an opportunity to seek the court and help them later in life. That’s my passion about it.”

The legislation would allow lawsuits previously time-barred before July 1, 2021.

“These provisions apply even if the case was never filed, or the civil suit was filed and dismissed by the court due to the expiration of a statute of limitations,” read the bill’s fiscal impact statement. “As a result, the bill may increase the number of civil actions filed.”

The state of Michigan approved legislation in 2018 that gives childhood sexual abuse victims more time to sue in light of the Larry Nassar scandal.