Lawmakers consider abolishing limits on sex abuse lawsuits
February 6, 2008
DENVER – People who said they were sexually abused as children urged state lawmakers Wednesday to change the law to allow victims to sue as adults.”Children cannot tell. We are ashamed. We are terrified,” said Marilyn Van Derbur, who said her father began abusing her when she was 5.Van Derbur, a former Miss America, and others told the House Judiciary Committee that child-abuse victims are often in their 40s or older before they can come to terms with what happened.Currently victims have until age 24 to sue an alleged molester and the institution he or she worked for. A proposal (House Bill 1011) by Rep. Gwyn Green, D-Golden, would get rid of that time limit in future cases.People who have cases that are now barred because of those limits would be given two years to bring a lawsuit.A similar proposal failed two years ago in the face of opposition from the Catholic Church, school districts and insurance companies. That bill would have removed the statute of limitations – which restricts how much time can pass before legal action is taken – for suits brought against both private and public institutions, such as schools.The new bill would remove the time limitations for suits only against private groups, including churches. Green said she would address the liability of public institutions, which are more difficult to sue, in a separate bill.Her current proposal would also allow lawsuits against institutions based on abuse by people who have died.