The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) championed a bill sponsored by a bi-partisan group of representatives on behalf of child victims of sexual violence. The bill would eliminate the statute of limitations for civil law suits arising from child sexual abuse, which is currently only 5 years. Child sexual assault is the ultimate betrayal of a child’s trust and innocence. Disclosures most often are delayed or go unheard for an inordinate amount of time. “Child victims may not disclose for years due to the confusion and/or fear associated with the dynamics of child sexual assault,” says Annette Burrhus-Clay, Executive Director at TAASA. “This bill provides an option for survivors and takes into account the realities of child sexual assault.”
Eliminating the civil statute of limitations empowers child victims of sexual abuse and prevents cover-ups that help predators stay hidden. “HB 1102 is for the safety of the children of Texas. Civil lawsuits expose predators, discourage cover-ups, and protect other children from continued abuse,” says Representative Senfronia Thompson of Houston, TX, who authored HB 1102.
This measure would prevent predators from waiting out the clock on their victims and would eliminate the economic incentive for institutions to cover up abuse. “Sexual abuse is obviously different from other types of cases where we have statutes of limitations. A ticking clock doesn’t encourage kids to point out their abusers more quickly. It only serves to protect predators and enable cover-ups.”
The timing of the hearing occurs as communities across Texas commemorate the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month. The bill is also supported by Texas CASA, TexProtects, and the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas.