March 17, 2005

Bill extends time to file child-abuse lawsuits

Dayton Daily News

By Laura A. Bischoff
Dayton Daily News

COLUMBUS | Child-abuse victims who were molested as long as 35 years ago would have a chance to bring civil lawsuits against their attackers under a bill passed 31-0 by the Ohio Senate on Wednesday.

The bill also would extend the criminal statute of limitations from six years to 20 years the same as rape for sex crimes such as gross sexual imposition and voyeurism.

And it would require clerics and church leaders to report suspected or known child abuse or neglect involving other clergy to the proper authorities.

If the bill becomes law, child molesters could be brought to light, parents would be put on notice about dangerous people and victims could get their day in court, said state Sen. Bob Spada, R-North Royalton, who sponsored the legislation.

The bill is a response to the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal, he said.

"Children really have been let down by the systems that were supposed to protect them," he said.

The bill extends the statute of limitations to file civil claims of abuse. Now, victims have one year from their 18th birthday to file civil claims. The bill would extend that to 20 years. This part of the bill is not retroactive, and would apply only to abuse that happens after the bill becomes law.

Posted by kshaw at March 17, 2005 07:51 AM