Sexual abuse survivors in Maryland finally had their voices heard. Recently, the state passed the Child Victims Act, eliminating the statute of limitations for suing individuals or institutions facing scrutiny for sexual abuse.
What the Child Victims Act could mean for survivors
With the new rules, survivors no longer have time constraints on when they can hold abusers accountable. Before the Child Victims Act, those who endured sexual abuse as a kid lost their ability to sue once they turned 38. But once the law takes effect on Oct. 1, survivors can pursue lawsuits without time constraints. That includes people whose claims expired under the original statute of limitations. And for survivors part of the Catholic Church, the new law would make it easier for them to sue the organization and any associated institutions, like schools and Boy Scout troops.
However, the new law also includes compensation limits for survivors. For example, they may only be able to seek up to $1.5 million from private organizations and $890,000 from public organizations for damages related to pain, suffering and emotional distress.
Groups who oppose the law are trying to undermine it
While lawmakers and sexual abuse survivors continue celebrating their push for justice, The Maryland Daily Record says religious organizations are voicing opposition to the Child Victims Act. The Catholic Church even said it’s planning to take legal action. If they make a persuasive case questioning the law’s constitutionality, it could put the Child Victims Act on temporary hold. The act would remain on hold until an appeals court, like the Maryland Supreme Court, reviews it.
While attempts to hinder the law could limit survivors’ ability to sue, it’s currently unclear whether opposition groups’ will succeed in their efforts.
Taking a step in the right direction
After years of survivors advocating for justice, Maryland lawmakers finally gave them a voice and a seat at the table. And while religious organizations, like the Catholic Church, fight vigorously against it, lawmakers sent a clear message to their constituents that they hear them and are willing to stand up to the powerful people and institutions that harmed them.