SNAP Reacts to Kansas Statute of Limitations Reform Bill
(For Immediate Release April 4, 2023)
The Kansas House voted Monday to pass Senate Substitute for House Bill 2127, just days after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation. The proposed bill will remove the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse and will also extend the time frame for civil lawsuits involving those crimes.
If signed into law, the legislation will include child sexual abuse among the offenses for which a criminal investigation may be opened at any time. Additionally, the law will also permit civil claims for the recovery of damages associated with these crimes up to 13 years following the victim's 18th birthday, or three years following the abuser's criminal conviction for a felony linked to child sex abuse, whichever comes later.
We applaud these necessary reforms. However, we are disappointed that legislators in Kansas made the decision to exclude wording from the bill that would have given victims of child sex abuse who are beyond even this new civil statute of limitations their day in court.
The Senate Substitute for HB 2127 may give the impression to the public that victims who suffered horrific sexual abuse in the past can seek redress under this law, but this is not true. When enacted, the new law will remove the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse going forward. However, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in the past that such reforms cannot be applied retroactively. Moreover, the bill will do nothing for the hundreds of brave victims who have come forward and are already beyond the civil statute of limitations. Outspoken victims like Susan Leighnor, who blasted the recent report conducted by the KBI and Kansas Attorney General’s Office and who testified recently regarding the importance of a retroactive window that would allow victims who have suffered horrific harm in the past their day in court, will still be unable to seek justice through the courts.
Susan graciously shared this comment with SNAP, "For all of the clergy abuse survivors who bravely came forward and told your personal stories of sexual abuse to the KBI, I remain committed to eliminating the antiquated statute of limitation laws in Kansas. I hear you and I support you in your recovery. Together, we will hold powerful institutions accountable for the harm done to us as children."
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) Janet Patterson SNAP Leader, Kansas (316-361-2575 [email protected])