Survivors’ Group Wants Public to be Aware of Changes in Texas Law

Survivors’ Group Wants Public to be Aware of Changes in Texas Law 

Extension of Civil Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Becomes Effective September 1

SNAP Applauds any Improvement that Offers More Victims Their Day in Court

But the State Still Needs a “Look-Back Window” so All Can Seek Justice

What:

Holding signs at a sidewalk news conference, survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters will educate the public concerning a new Texas law extending the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, and urge legislators and their constituents to work toward broader reform.

When:

Tuesday, August 27, 2019, 10:00 am.

Where:

Outside the Bexar County Court House, 100 Dolorosa, San Antonio, Texas

Who:

The volunteer leader of the San Antonio chapter of SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, a clergy abuse survivor from Philadelphia, John Delaney, and their supporters

Why:

SNAP wants to make sure that the public is aware of a new law extending the statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors in Texas. Effective September 1, 2019, an adult survivor of child abuse occurring on or after that date will have 30 years following their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit for damages. The old law only gave victims 15 years to come forward. 

This new law also extends the statute of limitations for survivors who were abused prior to the effective date if their statute of limitations has not expired by that time. That is, these victims have an additional 15 years to seek justice in the courts.

SNAP supports any reform to statute of limitations on behalf of survivors of child sexual abuse. It often takes victims decades to come to terms with what happened to them. Statistics show that the average age for an adult sexual abuse survivor to report abuse is 52. Yet when they do finally summon the courage to come forward, most find the doors to the courthouse closed in their faces. 

However, even this new law shuts out many abuse victims. (To know for certain if you are beyond the statute of limitations, or if your case falls under some exception, an experienced sex abuse attorney should be consulted.)

Accordingly, SNAP is calling on legislators in Texas to enact a “look-back window” for those survivors, as other states have done in recent months. These “windows to justice” allow all victims, no matter how old they are or when their statute of limitations expired, to file a civil lawsuit, usually only for a set period of time. 

CHILDUSA’s attorney Kathryn Robb says,“Although Texas took a step in the right direction with HB 3809, it is a baby step. This legislation is far behind the national trend of affording  most victims of child abuse justice, and exposing hidden predators. This year 16 states plus the District of Columbia passed revival or window legislation. The social science data is clear-the average age victims of child sexual abuse come forward is age 52. Although this legislation extends the civil SOL to age 18 plus 30 years, given the old law, victims who are over the age of 33 are out of luck and their perpetrators can breathe a sigh of relief. Given that it is unconstitutional to retroactively change criminal SOLs, the only way to name and expose hidden sexual predators of the past is through civil revival and window legislation. Texas took a baby step towards justice, while others leaped forward. Let’s hope they can do more for victims and the safety of Texas’ children in the future.”

The survivors’ group also urges the public to write to their local Senators and House Representatives requesting that they support such legislation, so that victims can have their day in court.

In addition, SNAP recommends that all sexual abuse survivors report these crimes to law enforcement, either the police or sheriff, the local district attorney, or Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office. Making a report is empowering for victims, and may also help to keep perpetrators off the street and away from the vulnerable.

For those who are considering reporting to law enforcement or filing a civil suit, the survivors’ group offers peer-to-peer support throughout the journey to justice and healing. 

Contact:  Patti Koo, Volunteer SNAP San Antonio Leader (956-648-7385, snappkoo@gmail.com), Carol Midboe, Volunteer SNAP Austin Leader  (512-934-3473, snapaustin@yahoo.com),  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator (925-708-6175, msakoda@snapnetwork.org)

 (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 www.SNAPnetwork.org


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