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A chance at justice: This bill package will extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims

It will extend the statute of limitations to allow those up to 52 years of age to report
Posted at 11:06 PM, Jun 10, 2024
  • House Bill 4482 through 4487 will extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to 52 years old.
  • Lawmakers also want to hold K-12 agencies and universities accountable for failing to prevent criminal sexual conduct.
  • Video shows the bills and the impacts that it can have on the people of Mid-Michigan.

"The average age of disclosure is 52." 52, the age Rebbecca Kasen, the Executive Director of the Women's Center of Greater Lansing, says that victims of childhood sexual abuse tell someone.
"It can take a lot of therapy and time before someone is even ready to identify it is abuse and start taking action," Kasen said.

And for those who disclose early, it might not be enough.

"We need to remember that the criminal justice system only does so much," Kasen said. "People take plea deals; cases aren't prosecuted which is why we need the civil courts to make restorations for the victims."

And that's why the Women's Center supports the Justice for Survivors bill package.

This legislation comes on the heels of another package of bills passed in 2018 that allowed survivors of the Larry Nassar scandal a limited amount of additional time to file claims against the disgraced doctor.

The pack of six house bills would do the following:

  • extend the window for victims of criminal sexual conduct to take civil action from 3 years to 7 years and increase the maximum age of the victim being able to disclose from 28 to 52 years old,
  • allow victims an indefinite time period to sue if there is a criminal conviction in their case,
  • and gets rid of the immunity for schools and colleges if they knew and failed to prevent an assault.

Now Democratic State Representative Julie Brixie of East Lansing is looking to expand the statute of limitations for all survivors of criminal sexual conduct.
"Working with those survivors and knowing some of them personally with the tragedy that happened at MSU is what really brought my interest to this topic," Brixie said, "and the more I learned about it, the more I came to understand how terrible Michigan's laws are."

Opponents of the bill express concern with the establishment of the two-year window, that victims of criminal sexual conduct would have to take action against organizations before the bill goes into effect.

"During that period, the bills are going to allow lawsuits against organizations after the deadline to bring them has passed," an opponent said, "That possesses practical issues and due process concerns for schools and daycares, summer camps, sports leagues, who will face a surge of claims."

But Representative Brixie says that it is about holding them accountable.

"We really need to protect children and by changing these statutes of limitations will allow people to come forward and protect children and get institutional change that we need," Brixie said. "We need to hold institutions accountable for what they done if they have covered up pedophiles in their ranks."

Watch the interview with State Representative Julie Brixie on the Justice for Survivors bill package.

Interview with State Rep. Julie Brixie

These bills have been referred to the house floor for a second reading.

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