It removes the statute of limitations for filing civil suits against perpetrators.
Frederick, Md (KM) A bill signed into law last month by the Governor will make it much easier for victims of sexual abuse as children to file civil suits in Maryland against the responsible parties.
Jonathan Schochor, an attorney with the law firm Schochor and Staton in Baltimore, has handled a lot of child abuse cases. He says this new law removes the statute of limitations which prevents some adults who were sex abuse victims as children from filing civil suits. “It lifts the statute of limitations and permits anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse to come forward and enforce their rights,”: he says.
The new law takes affect on October 1sr, 2023.
Many of those persons who were victims of sex abuse when they were children often wait until they’re adults to file suit. Schochor was asked why the victims waited until they were adults to tell their stories. “Youngsters are reticent, reluctant to come forward. Many of them came forward and told their parents. or went to the church where it happened as if trying to get some kind of closure on this. That was not viable. It did not work,”: he said
This law came about following the release of a report from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office documenting sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy within the Archdiocese of Baltimore against over 600 children. But Schochor says this new law doesn’t’ just cover Catholic priests who sexually abuse kids. “Any sexual abuse, whether it’s a public school or a private school, or a scoutmaster or a prison guard, or a teacher,”: he says.
The Maryland Catholic Conference which represents the three diocese serving the state is opposed to the measure. It argues that allowing victims to file retroactively, even if their claims expired under the current law, is unconstitutional and could have devastating impacts on the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Schochor urges anyone who is a victim of child sexual abuse to come forward and tell their story. They will be treated with respect. “We will take you by the hand, each and every one of you. We will interview you. We will gather the facts. We will protect you anonymity,”: he says.
By Kevin McManus