Colorado Takes Massive Step Forward with SOL Reform, But More Changes Must Still Come
We are thrilled that the Colorado legislature is sending a bill to the governor’s desk that will eliminate the civil statute of limitations for childhood sex crimes. This is an important step forward that we hope will be followed by another step that will give current survivors their day in court and get critical information about abusers and enablers into the hands of parents and the public.
With the passage of SB 73, Colorado legislators have shown that they understand the importance that civil courts can have for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. With this change future generations can not only hold their abuser accountable but also the institutions that enabled the abuse. We hope that this recognition will also help SB 88 get across the finish line, which would allow current survivors of abuse to access these pathways to healing and justice as well.
By opening civil windows, not only are survivors provided with an opportunity to experience justice and closure, but their experiences can better inform communities and institutions about how abuse occurs and how it is hidden. These opportunities to name abusers and enablers can help ensure these people are kept away from opportunities to harm other children and can help prevent future cases of abuse from happening.
Additionally, when civil claims are filed, they often lead to other victims coming forward and filing their own cases. Sometimes, these additional victims may be what is needed by law enforcement to pursue a criminal case. In this way, reforming the civil statute of limitations can lead to prosecutions that in turn lead to safer communities.
In Colorado, a recent investigation by the attorney general’s office found that there were at least 52 abusive Catholic priests who abused at least 212 children. We are certain that there are many more perpetrators who remain hidden and survivors who remain unable to come forward and receive justice. We firmly believe that these victims deserve their day in court and that communities deserve to be informed about potential abusers in their midst.
We hope that legislators in Colorado will act now to pass SB 88 and finish the important work they have been doing to bring healing, justice, and prevention to Colorado.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)