Maryland Senate Passes Legislation that would remove SOL for Child Abuse Victims

Posted on: March 28, 2023 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

The Child Victims Act of 2023 (also known as House Bill 1) overwhelmingly passed in the Maryland Senate by a 42-5 margin. The bill, which had been gaining momentum since the new year, would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. It would also be enacted retroactively, which means that survivors of childhood sexual abuse would be able to file claims that are currently time barred. This is certainly welcome news, since last week a judge approved the release of the Maryland attorney general’s report concerning sexual abuse within the Maryland dioceses which documents clergy sexual abuse going back 80 years.

Along with removing the statute of limitations, the bill also caps the amount of money a victim could receive depending on the defendant. For example, a survivor who sues a public entity, like a public school, could be awarded up to $890,000. Whereas a survivor who sues a private entity, like the Catholic Church, could be awarded up to $1.5 million. As to be expected, the Maryland Catholic Conference provided a statement which shows it values the church’s financial well-being over the well being of clergy sexual abuse survivors. The statement said:

These bills treat public and private institutions differently by setting a lower ceiling on how much a public-school board, for example, could be sued compared to a private institution such as a parish or nonpublic school. This creates two classes of survivors and greatly increases the financial harm to the Church and its ministries. The draconian provision of an unlimited window for currently time-barred civil cases to be filed, regardless of when they occurred, is nearly unprecedented among similar laws passed in other states.

The church’s claim that the passing of a law with a revival window is “nearly unprecedented” is also false. States like Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Maine, and California have all passed similar legislation opening a revival window or removing the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse altogether. These claims by the Maryland Catholic Conference are nothing more than an attempt to gain some unearned sympathy from the public. Sympathy which it refuses to provide to survivors of clergy sexual abuse within Maryland’s own dioceses.

After passing in the Senate, the bill was sent to the House of Delegates, where it was referred to the Judiciary Committee. The House has passed a similar bill before so hopefully it will do so again and make the Child Victims Act of 2023 a law.

The entire article can be viewed here.

Sexual Abuse Lawyer for Maryland Clergy Abuse Victims
If you or a loved one were a victim of sexual abuse within the Maryland Dioceses, contact our firm today. Our law firm handles Maryland sexual abuse lawsuits and can help you understand how long you have to file a clergy abuse claim in the state of Maryland. Call us now at 1-800-941-7209 for a FREE and PRIVATE consultation.