Bill Would Give Sexual Assault Survivors One Year 'Look Back Window' To File Cases
Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would give survivors of childhood sexual assault a "look back window" to address previously unreported claims. It would allow them to open cases with an expired statute of limitations for one year.
This follows a recent wave of states passing look back laws. Currently sixteen states and the District of Columbia have created similar opportunities for abuse victims to have their voices heard.
The issue is personal for bill sponsor Sen. Lauren Book (D-Broward), who was assaulted by her nanny as teen.
"It takes a long time for survivors to report these types of crimes,” she said. “75% of children don't tell within one year of the abuse, I know I waited six years…and many never do"
The nonprofit thinktank Child USA advocates for statute of limitations reform and tracks legislative progress in states across the country.
CEO Marci Hamilton said Florida has done a lot to help current and future survivors of sexual assault by eliminating the statute of limitations for child sexual battery in 2010. But that law wasn’t retroactive.
“That iceberg of victims from the past who were shut down by the short statutes of limitations before still need help," she said.
Child USA estimates at least 1,000 new cases could come forward in Florida is this bill passes. In New York, which opened a year-long window last August, plaintiffs have already filed more than 1,300 civil cases.
Hamilton considers those figures to be relatively modest.
“Opponents to these bills always argue there is going to be an avalanche of claims, but there never are,” she said. “…But the public learns about child predators they never knew about it. In California in 2003, when the (state’s) first window opened, we lea...