Child sex abuse survivors push for changes to statute of limitations
TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE) - Child sex abuse victims in Kansas say it's incredibly hard to bring charges against their abusers due to the state’s restrictive statute of limitations.
Now a group of survivors is working with state lawmakers to try to address the problem.
In a room in the Kansas statehouse, one by one four victims of child sexual abuse came forward and shared their stories.
“I began telling other coaches about my abuse the following summer, one of them had also been sexually assaulted by David Byrd," said Kim Bergman. "While most of them were supportive, no one reported my abuse.”
But only one who shared actually got to see their abuser go to trial. That’s because the rest of their cases fell past the state’s statute of limitations.
"Right now in Kansas, you need to bring your lawsuit if it's a civil lawsuit by the age of 21," said Representative Bob Lewis.
These survivors are now working with state lawmakers to remove the statute of limitations and allow people to file claims as far back as 1984.
“What we're talking about here is both civil and criminal cases to allow people who were victimized a decade ago, several decades ago to bring forward their case," said Cindy Holscher.
Those who spoke at the news conference say it usually takes several years, if not decades for a person to feel comfortable enough to acknowledge their abuse and by that time it's too late.
"I'm 29 years old," said Tess Ramirez. "I'm really only just now comfortable talking about it publicly and I wouldn't say this comfortably. I really started processing my trauma about two years ago.”
Lawmakers had tried for a similar bill for the last few years but say that after the KBI's report on clergy’s sexual abuse of children last Friday, a lot more lawmakers understand the size of this issue.
Survivors say that these changes aren’t even really about getting civil damages from an abuser but about giving them a chance to speak out about what happened to them and try to prevent it from happening to others.