Minn. needs to fix child abuse statute

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Current law says child sexual abuse victims immediately know they are injured and have until age 24 to file a lawsuit. Considering it can take decades for victims to confront the abuse, statutes of limitation are woefully short and act as an arbitrary barrier to justice. I know because I am a survivor of child sexual abuse.

I was sexually abused by our parish priest at age 13. I suppressed my pain so deep that I didn’t recognize I had been abused until well into adulthood. Even as a well-educated, full-grown man, the abuse continues to challenge and haunt me.

At age 39, I was able to find the courage to seek justice against my abuser and those who helped facilitate the abuse. After five years and publicly reopening those wounds, my case was dismissed by the Minnesota State Supreme Court because the statute of limitations had expired. I was re-victimized by the system designed to protect me because I couldn’t seek justice on my own time frame.

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The Minnesota Child Victims Act being considered at the State Capitol would eliminate the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases, allowing victims to seek justice at any time against the abuser or institution that facilitated the abuse. This legislation respects and acknowledges the healing process, while encouraging victims of child sex abuse to come forward and potentially identify abusers who may still be abusing children.

Child sexual abuse is a public health epidemic. Support the Minnesota Child Victims Act.


Jim Keenan