DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s Senate tentatively endorsed a bill on Monday to eliminate a six-year statute of limitations for victims of child sexual assault to pursue civil action against perpetrators — an effort lawmakers have struggled with for years.
The bipartisan bill faces a third and final vote Tuesday before moving to the House. Colorado has no statute of limitations for criminal cases involving sexual abuse of minors.
Sponsored in the Senate by Democrat Jessie Danielson and Republican Don Coram, the legislation removes the statute of limitations for filing civil claims on or after Jan. 1, 2022, or for claims within the six-year statute as of that date. It also removes several restrictions for filing civil claims, and it would apply to claims against a person or organization that didn’t directly perpetrate the alleged misconduct.
Danielson and Coram argued that assault survivors can take years — even decades — to recover from their abuse before even contemplating legal action. Under current law, those survivors must file any civil claim against abusers by the age of 24 — and by age 20 against employers or organizations harboring abusers.
Danielson noted 10 states have eliminated civil statutes of limitations in such cases: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont.
Republican Sen. Bob Gardner urged, without success, that the bill be referred to the Judiciary Committee, insisting its one hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee may not have addressed all legal aspects of changing statute, especially when it comes to potential third-party liability.
“You have no idea how little I care about who that third party is. I care about that child,” Coram said.
Senators also voted down a Gardner amendment to extend the statute of limitations to 20 years.