Bill would extend statute of limitations for filing child sex abuse lawsuits

By the Associated Press

June 18, 2014

BOSTON — The Massachusetts House has approved a bill to extend by more than 30 years the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sex abuse to file lawsuits against their alleged attackers or the institutions that employed them.

The measure passed Wednesday on a unanimous vote and now goes to the Senate.

Current state law only gives victims until age 21 to file civil actions against alleged abusers. The bill would raise that age up to 53.

The proposal would also increase from three years to seven years the period in which a lawsuit can be filed after the recovery of so-called repressed memories of childhood abuse.

State Rep. John Lawn, a Watertown Democrat who sponsored the bill, said it strikes a balance between the rights of victims and those of defendants.

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  • Mark Belenchia
    commented 2014-06-19 13:24:02 -0500
    The creation of the ‘shameful self’ takes years in some cases to develop; it certainly did in my case. As a young adult trying to live a ‘normal’ life was my goal. I had a career, two children to raise, dealing with the sexual abuse was not even an option. I kept the abuse memory very close and caged in a tight package in the recesses of my mind. When my marriage was falling apart I never made the connection, but it was there the ‘groove’ that was cut into my brain some 20 years earlier. Then came the big blow… my mother died, the only person I had ever spoken to about the abuse. Some days I wish I would not have told her about what happened, she suffered terribly too. On her dying bed she asks for my forgiveness for not doing more to help me deal with the Church. Two months later I dived into the dark hole of a nervous breakdown. My career ended early because of PTSD. I had been having panic attacks and nightmares for years but just tried to ignore them. It was catching up with me… the ‘groove’ all the while deepening. After stabilizing and being told by my doctors that I was going to have to confront the Church.. I moved forward. Then the secondary abuse took place, the lie that came straight from the bishops mouth “We have never heard this about Fr. Haddican", shamed me to no end. Because I thought they (the Church, my Church) would help make me whole and they had never heard of such … I then became an isolated ‘freak’. Yet I gathered my strength and went public.. Five more men came forward with the story the bishop had never heard. There is no doubt in my mind that this secondary abuse was as harmful as the sexual abuse. Being from Mississippi, were tort reform was running wild, my civil case was tossed because of the statute of limitations. I was 48 years old before I ever knew the harm that this caused me. SoL is cruel to childhood sexual abuse survivors. Yet, I forge on. I am 58 now and will be in recovery the rest of my life. I found this yesterday looking at the Bible and want to share it with my brother and sister survivors … ‘Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame’.

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