Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act of 2017

Introduced: January 10, 2017

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Robert White

Summary: To amend Title 12 of the District of Columbia Official Code to eliminate the civil statute of limitations for recovery of damages arising out of child sex abuse claims and to provide a 2-year period for people whose claims were barred by a previous statute of limitations to bring those claims.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

There are few actions more depraved than sexual violence against children. Full of boundless curiosity, bold imagination, and care-free spirits, the unique innocence of childhood is something to marvel.

Unfortunately 1 in 10 children will be stripped of this innocence before their 18th birthday.  Alarmingly, children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Because children have no comprehension of adult sexual behaviors and activity, any exposure to these aspects of adult life can and often does result in mental and emotional trauma.

The experience of sexual violence as a child is one that endures for the ages.  Most survivors do not come forward until, on average age 42, suffering for years with depression, feelings of guilt and sometimes difficulty forming intimate relationships. 

That is why today, along with Councilmembers Brandon Todd, Robert White and Mary Cheh, I am introducing the Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act of 2017.

This legislation eliminates the civil statute of limitations for recovery of damages arising out of child sex abuse claims. 

Additionally, the bill creates a two-year window for individuals whose claims of child sex abuse were previously time-barred, enabling victims to go back in time and begin working to heal.

Currently, there are 8 states and one U.S. territory that have no civil statute of limitations in cases involving the sexual violence or abuse of children. (Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Utah and Guam).

Across the country, this issue is being revisited.  Just last year California, Hawaii, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania all introduced child sex abuse statutes of limitations reform bills.  Similarly, Tennessee and Utah enacted child sex abuse statutes of limitations reform measures.

Further, other states have enacted statute of limitations revival measures to include California (2003), which allowed for a 1-year look back window and Connecticut (2010), which revived expired claims up to age 48. 

Child safety depends on legislators holding institutions, not just individual perpetrators, accountable for their actions.  We cannot continue to allow individuals or institutions to maintain their depraved secrets. We must instead encourage and empower victims to come forward and know that a fair and just system is in place to help them right unspeakable wrongs.

I yield the remainder of my time to my co-introducers and I welcome any co-sponsors.