ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A Maryland delegate’s personal story of being abused as a child is helping to push through new legislation that may make it easier for victims to sue abusers.
Ava-joye Burnett tells us the bill which had opposition for years, finally received majority support in Annapolis.
Victims of child sex abuse will now have up to the age of 38 to file a lawsuit against an abuser the bill finally passed this year after a consensus was reached with the catholic church.
The stigma of being sexually abused as a child is a battle this Maryland lawmaker says he knows all too well.
Shuffled from foster home to foster home delegate C.T. Wilson said he was abused from about seven all the way till he was 16.
“I can’t sit here and describe to you the pain of being beaten, sodomized and molested for years,” says Delegate Wilson.
As he introduced a bill to help victims sue abusers.
“Very humiliating. People ask if it was cathartic, it wasn’t; I could go a whole nother lifetime without people knowing my personal business,” he says.
The bill, which was signed by the Governor Tuesday, will give victims up to 20 years into adulthood to sue. Before this bill, they only had seven years.
The delegate has been introducing the bill here in aAnnapolissince 2015, but it got shot down two years in a row. He says the Catholic church had concerns it would always be the target of lawsuits, even if the claims were false. This new bill would also hold individuals accountable.
In a statement to WJZ, the Archdiocese of Baltimore wrote:
“The church supported the bill because it applied to both public and private institutions, thereby treating equally all victims of sexual abuse.”
Anti-child abuse advocates are calling this a win.
“In a nutshell, this is an important day for adult survivors of sexual abuse. It takes years for children to even understand sometimes that they have been a victim of sexual abuse,” says Adam Rosenberg with the Baltimore Child Abuse Center.
Delegate Wilson hopes his actions have sent a message to others.
“I was able to hopefully change some lives today. If anything, you let the people, the quiet victims here in Maryland know that they are not alone.”
The delegate says this bill goes into effect July first.
This bill only applies to civil lawsuits because there are no statute of limitations on criminal cases.