Proposal Would Change Deadline For Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

MADISON, Wis. — The statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits would be eliminated under a proposal two state lawmakers said that they’ll introduce next month.

The legislators said they also will propose a window for victims who have been barred by current law from filing a lawsuit.

Democratic state Sen. Julie Lassa of Stevens Point and Republican state Rep. Scott Suder of Abbotsford said that the bill is needed because current law unfairly limits victims’ ability to hold abusers accountable.

The statute of limitations — or the time a person has to bring a lawsuit — varies in Wisconsin depending on the crime and who is being sued. Under current Wisconsin law, civil actions in child sex abuse cases must be brought forward by the victim before they reach the age of 35.

“The goal of this model of legislation is to right the balance, because for so many years, the predators have had the benefit of the law,” said Marci Hamilton, a legal expert and child sex abuse advocate.

Dixie Dettmering, an incest survivor, spoke out in support of the Child Victim’s Act.

“I am speaking to you today because I hope that you will be able to join me in doing what’s necessary to expose those who would hide behind the unreasonable statutes of limitation and continue to sexually abuse children,” Dettmering said.

The legislation is modeled after similar laws in several other states.

by Channel 3000. The Associated Press contributed to this report.