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Amendment floated to allow expanded legal action for child sex abuse survivors in Colorado

Colorado Newsline (August 3rd, 2023)Voters would be asked to approve constitutional amendment in 2024 election

Colorado legislators are pursuing a new way to give survivors of child sex abuse the opportunity to take legal action beyond current statute of limitations requirements.

The Colorado Legislature approved a bill in 2021 that would have given victims of child sex abuse a three-year window to file a lawsuit relating to abuse that occurred as early as the 1960s. But the Colorado Supreme Court determined the law was unconstitutional because of the state Constitution’s ban on legislation applying to matters that occurred before it was enacted.

SB-88 would have allowed people who survived sexual abuse as children to sue their abusers, as well as culpable public and private institutions.

Elizabeth Newman, public policy director at the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, agreed that bringing accountability to the institutions that enable abusers is a priority for many survivors, which is why the coalition supported SB-88.

The coalition provides resources and support to direct service organizations that work directly with survivors. Newman said the coalition was saddened by the Supreme Court decision, because survivors need the flexibility to be able to come forward whenever they feel ready to.

Newman said while the coalition doesn’t have a position on the proposed amendment yet, the organization looks forward to working with the Legislature again as it did with SB-88 to determine the next best solution. The coalition was one of SB-88’s main proponents.

“For CCASA, it’s a priority to expand options for survivors to access the healing and justice that they feel would best meet their needs, and what serves their best interests,” Newman said. “That was why we pursued Senate Bill 88, because it’s really important that survivors have the ability to access the systems that they choose when they’re ready to do so.”

“It’s a hard thing to relive that trauma,” Newman said. “They tell their stories over and over again and relive that harm that happened to them.”

Read the full article here.