Bill removing statute of limitations in child sex abuse lawsuits heads to Md. governor’s desk

The Child Victims Act of 2023, which would remove the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits for child sexual abuse, passed the Maryland General Assembly this week and is headed to Gov. Wes Moore’s desk.

David Lorenz, who leads the Maryland chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the bill’s success after prior failures shows that influence in the state legislature has changed.

“It now belongs to the survivors, and the people of Maryland, who said it is time to allow survivors a chance at justice,” Lorenz said. “The church could not stop it from happening.”

In Maryland, a victim of child sex abuse currently has until they are 38 years old to file a lawsuit against their abuser, or the private or public institutions in relation to their case.

Once law, starting Oct. 1, that age cap would disappear. Victims previously blocked from suing would also be able to sue.

“It is just a huge, huge relief to be able to do this,” Lorenz said.

Lorenz, who said he was abused by a priest in Kentucky when he was a child, added that legislation like this will help survivors get some sort of justice.

“It’s not the money they’re looking for; they’re looking for the fact that they want accountability for what happened to them,” he said.

The three dioceses that serve the state are represented by the Maryland Catholic Conference. The organization has been vocal about its opposition to the bills, calling them “unconstitutional.”

“The Maryland Catholic Conference has raised concerns with this legislation throughout the session because of the lack of parity in how public and private organizations — and victims — are treated and because of ongoing concerns of constitutionality,” the conference said in a statement.

Moore has said he intends to sign the House and Senate versions of the bill into law.

Lorenz realizes there could still be a legal battle ahead. He said Maryland Attorney Gen. Anthony Brown has assured him that he intends to defend the legislation.

“The Attorney General is backing this bill and will back it in court,” Lorenz said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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