Maryland Removes Statute of Limitations on Abuse Allegations

Maryland Removes Statute of Limitations on Abuse Allegations

( – In 2019, New York lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act (SB2440), raising the age at which victims can bring a civil lawsuit against their abusers from 23 to 55. Maryland recently took things a step further by removing the statute of limitations on civil actions involving child sexual abuse cases.

On October 1, The Child Victims Act of 2023 (SB0686) went into effect in Maryland. The bill ended the state’s previous statute of limitations on civil lawsuits filed by underage victims of sexual crimes against their alleged abusers. Now, over 400 lawsuits are being brought against Maryland over crimes that allegedly took place within the juvenile justice system.

The Maryland House passed its version of the bill, HB1, on April 7, and the Senate followed suit the following day. Democratic Gov. Wes Moore signed the measure into law four days later. CBS News reported that most states only give survivors a few years after they turn 18 to file a civil lawsuit against their alleged abusers. A March 2020 study released by ChildUSA found that, on average, the victims don’t report the abuse until they are 52.

Ironically, the governor signed the measure into law within days of the release of a report by the Maryland Attorney General’s office detailing decades of child abuse at Baltimore Catholic Churches.

The 463-page Maryland Attorney General’s Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore listed 156 male and female clergy members who allegedly abused children. They included priests, deacons, nuns, monks, and several monsignors.

The report spanned more than eight decades and discussed the AG office’s findings regarding the “physical torture” and “sexual abuse” of more than 600 victims. The Maryland Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a press release shortly after the report’s April 4 release.

The statement noted the organization’s “complete awe of the [many] brave victims” who stepped forward and shared their “tragic experiences” with investigators. SNAP explained that although the report provided a “good picture” of the “historical abuse” of children, the group’s primary concern remains the ongoing pattern of abuse within the Baltimore Archdiocese.

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