Colorado sexual abuse survivors may finally get a long-awaited change in law which provide for civil justice. Under a new bill that the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) helped draft, survivors of child sexual abuse could sue individuals or institutions – for triple damages – if their abuse resulted from a cover-up, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
This means that sexual abuse survivors would be able to file a claim against the institution, not the individual, without having any expiration date or statute of limitations, seeking three times the damages. Many survivors go years before they are ready to report or talk about the abuse they encountered as children, and this new bill could give them justice and some peace of mind.
Many times when reports of sexual abuse are made to schools or institutions the institutions decide, for whatever reason, to disregard the reports and ignore the problem. There are countless historical examples of this within the Catholic Church in Colorado as noted in recent grand jury reports.
“These organizations and their youth programs were trusted by families and parents to protect children, and instead they covered up child sex abuse. We have a fundamental obligation to hold them accountable to bring healing to these survivors, and also prevent this behavior from happening in the future,” says Danielson. Danielson is also introducing a bill that removes the statute of limitations for all sexual assault claims going forward.
Raana Simmons, Executive Director of CCASA, says the bill is narrowly tailored to target staff who knew, or should have known, about the abuse and did nothing to stop it. “When institutions choose to protect their power and profit by concealing the truth, the cover-up is something completely different and distinct from the sexual abuse that the child experienced in the first place. What this is, we believe, is a path forward to lift the veil of secrecy, to protect our communities, and to make sure that survivors have access to the single system that can provide them with the monetary relief to recover from trauma,” said Simmons.
Unlike other civil liability laws, the bill also prevents school districts from using government immunity to avoid damages.