Archived Story

Editorial: Support the Minn. Child Victims Act

Published 9:13am Thursday, March 28, 2013

We urge state legislators to sign a bill to create the Minnesota Child Victims Act. It’s long overdue in a family-friendly state like ours where protecting children is a high priority.

It can take victims years or decades to recognize the abuse and even longer to find the strength to come forward about abuse they suffered as children. By eliminating the civil statute of limitations, the bill makes it easier for victims to seek justice from their abusers.

Thanks to court interpretation of existing law, victims in Minnesota presently have until the age of 24 to file a civil suit seeking damages from their abusers.

The proposed law would encourage victims of child sex abuse to confront their abusers as mature adults and potentially identify predators that have not come in contact with the criminal justice system and are still abusing children.

If passed into law, victims could file a lawsuit against their abuser or the institution that facilitated the abuse at any time no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

Recent surveys show that one out of every two Minnesotans knows someone who has been sexually abused and 10 percent of Minnesotans were sexually abused as children, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Nearly a dozen victim advocate organizations, including the Minnesota Alliance on Crime and the National Child Protection Training Center, support the Minnesota Child Victims Act, as well as numerous county attorneys and sheriffs across Minnesota. Kathleen Blatz, the former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, supports the legislation.

Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida and Maine got rid of most civil statutes of limitations for child sex abuse, and several other states are considering it.

One compromise now in the Legislature calls for a three-year window for victims to sue as adults for cases in the past, while future cases would have no statue of limitations.

Lawmaking is a series of compromises, indeed, but we find it difficult to compromise away the right of a child victim to sue as an adult. It’s like they get to suffer an injustice yet again. We urge passage of the original language of the bill.