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Freedom from Sexual Violence

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PRESS STATEMENT: CCASA PROUDLY SUPPORTS CIVIL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM BILL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 14, 2020

Contact: Jolene Cardenas,
Director of Communications and Community Engagement
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA)
Direct Line: 720.330.8922
Email: jolene@ccasa.org
Website: www.ccasa.org

CCASA PROUDLY SUPPORTS CIVIL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM BILL

DENVER, CO –  The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) strongly urges members of the Colorado General Assembly to support HB 20-1296 a bill focused on civil statute of limitations reform that promotes public safety and can hold defendants who are found liable directly accountable to a victim of sexual violence.

Effective investigation and accountability at every level is key to changing the way our society responds to rape and childhood sexual abuse. Eliminating the civil statute of limitations dismantles the institutional power that shields serial sexual abusers from accountability. Statutes of limitations are the tool most often used to defeat claims of childhood sexual abuse. Eliminating the civil statute of limitations prohibits rapists from continuing to evade legal consequences simply because an arbitrary time limit has expired.

The lifetime cost of rape per victim is a staggering $122,461, including criminal justice costs, property loss or damage, lost work productivity and future wages, and short-and long-term physical and mental health treatment for victims (Peterson, DeGue, Florence, & Lokey, 2017). Eliminating the civil statute of limitations shifts the cost of rape and child sexual abuse from victims and society to perpetrators and institutions.

The impact of rape doesn’t go away after 6-years (or 2-years). The current 6-year (or 2-year) statute of limitations for civil actions related to sexual abuse sets forth a timeline that has no relation to the dynamics of child sexual abuse or the challenges that victims face in coming forward.

The civil justice system can provide victims with the monetary resources necessary to rebuild their lives. A criminal court may order a perpetrator to reimburse certain expenses incurred by a victim. Unfortunately, even when a court orders restitution, it is often not collected. This lack of enforcement—combined with limitations on the type of damages that may be included in a restitution order—often results in restitution falling far short of meeting victims’ needs.

It is our Coalition’s deeply held belief that communities should allow child sexual abuse and adult victims enough time to make progress in healing so that they may access the civil justice system at the time when they are actually able to do so. HB 20-1296 enhances fundamental fairness in the civil justice system – just as the impact of trauma has no timeline, neither should accountability for harm committed have a timeline.

### (Interviews available upon request)

 

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