It appears to be a new day in Annapolis, as support appears to be building in Annapolis and now online – through a newly-launched online grassroots petition endorsing passage of Maryland’s “long overdue” proposed HB 1, the Child Victims Act of 2023.
We support all forms of citizen engagement, the latest of which is the petition on the non-profit change.org platform, directed at the state’s political leadership.
We commend the petition’s author
David Lorenz, of the state’s chapter of Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), authored the petition and he is among the countless courageous survivors forcefully speaking out in support of this urgently needed statute of limitation legislative reform to finally provide a real pathway to justice for victims of all forms of sexual abuse in our state. It is critical that these survivors – regardless of their age (presently, a victim cannot file a civil claim after the age of 38) – under a new state law be able to hold fully accountable those responsible – individuals and entities alike — for their catastrophic, life-shattering injuries.
Many other states have taken similar action, some eliminating altogether a time limit for filing sexual abuse claims.
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New Changes Hopeful in Efforts to Seek Justice for Child Sexual Abuse Victims
Mr. Lorenz also notes in the petition narrative that “previous attempts to correct this Maryland statutory injustice” were met with fierce opposition, and died in a state Senate legislative committee. He added, “But, thankfully, it’s a new day in Annapolis; there’s a new Governor and new Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and survivors of all ages may finally be able to hold accountable all those responsible for their life-shattering injuries.”
We Seek Change to Maryland Child Sex Abuse Statue Of Limitations
Last week, the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard presentations by advocates for the reform of Maryland’s statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual assault. According to the Child USA Fact Sheet, the delay in disclosing child sex abuse happens for a variety of complex and overlapping reasons that transcend the body’s internal protections. “Child victims face many barriers that prevent disclosure. Among other barriers, children often lack the knowledge needed to recognize sexual abuse, lack the ability to articulate that they’ve been abused, don’t have an adult they can disclose their abuse to, don’t have opportunities to disclose abuse, and aren’t believed when they try to disclose. Trauma that results from the abuse, power differentials between the child victim and adult perpetrator, and institutional power dynamics all impact the delay.”
Again, we call out for Maryland to join the national civil rights movement for children. We need to stand alongside the 24 other states that have passed revival or window lookback laws for expired civil claims against the perpetrator and institutional betrayers. Our children deserve no less than what the law allows – access to justice with laws that recognize the nature of the harm and the ability of survivors to gather the evidence to present their case. No less a force than the Washington Post has come out strongly in support of open court proceedings and the release of the Maryland Attorney General’s report chronicling decades of abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
What’s the message to be repeated here: Truth. Transparency. Accountability. Without all three, Maryland’s survivors of sexual abuse will remain victimized and retraumatized. Maryland is better than that.
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