Florida fights for victim’s rights; time limits for sexual abuse cases lifted

06/23/2010 // WPB, FL, USA // Nicole Howley // Nicole Howley

Tallahassee, FL—The Florida legislature is fighting for the rights of sexually abused children, by revoking the time limits in which victims can file a lawsuit. On May 11, 2010, Florida governor Charlie Crist signed a bill, which will lift the statues of limitations for pursing criminal or civil sexual abuse cases for victims who were younger than 16-year-old at the time of the abuse, as reported by the Miami Herald.

The bill, HB 525, will help victims of sexual abuse to seek justice in a courtroom and to recover damages from their horrifying experience.

Under previous Florida law, “a child who is a victim of certain sex crimes can press charges only until the age of 21. The statue of limitations in a civil case against the perpetrator typically expired after the age of 25, and one against an institution four years after the incident.” Florida’s previous law already has no statute of limitations for children younger than 12.

The Florida Catholic Conference has opposed the civil portion of the bill because they believe “it would create great uncertainty for any organization.” The Roman Catholic Church is currently facing several lawsuits, which claim priests sexually abused children.

The American Medical Association defines child sexual abuse as “the engagement of a child in sexual activities for which the child is developmentally unprepared and cannot give informed consented. Child sexual abuse is characterized by deception, force or coercion.” The National Center for Victims of Crime, the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims reports, “It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have experienced an episode of sexual abuse while younger than 18 years.”

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for Florida sexual abuse attorneys.

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