Experiencing sexual abuse is an unimaginable breach of trust and a source of pain. It can be very difficult to find justice or accountability against the perpetrators and the institution that stands behind them. However, a new piece of Colorado legislation has allowed more survivors of sexual assault to step forward and take civil action.
SB21-088 or the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act was put into effect this year. This act opens the door for those who were victims of sexual assault as minors to speak up. Victims can now file a civil claim against their abuser even if the statute of limitations has already passed. The victims of sexual abuse can now file civil suits against their abusers and the organizations that turned a blind eye to the abuse.
What is so special about this piece of legislation is that it allows victims who were assaulted on or after January 1, 1960, to take advantage of this opportunity. Victims from between January 1, 1960, and January 1, 2022, must take legal action before January 1, 2025. Victims who were assaulted after January 1, 2022, do not have any limitations on when they must take legal action. Any waiver that waives the right to take civil action for sexual misconduct is declared void.
The previous legislation in Colorado required victims to file a civil claim within six years of their 18th birthday. Now, the survivors of sexual assault can sue their abusers as far back as 1960. This is a huge step for victims who weren’t ready to speak out. Survivors can now get the justice they deserve.
When asked about the impact of this new law, Attorney Bob Nitido (who previously served as a District Attorney) said
“This act provides more court access for those who have been wronged which is always a good thing. If you or a loved one is considering raising a claim under this new legislation, it is best to contact an attorney so they can walk you through the process.”
Victims can also file a civil claim against an organization that sponsored youth activities that resulted in the abuse. These organizations can be large institutions like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America or small, local groups. To be held liable under this act, the organization would need to have been made aware of or should have known there was a risk of sexual abuse to minors, and they would have to be responsible for managing the youth program where the abuse occurred. This act also waives sovereign immunity. This means a victim can bring a claim against public employees or entities that are responsible for a youth program; That includes educational programs or district preschools.
The maximum amount for a claim against a public employee or entity is outlined by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. Otherwise, the maximum amount for a claim is $500,000. This limit can be increased to one million dollars if the court finds it abundantly clear that the defendant failed to take action against any potential risk of sexual abuse to a minor.
If you or someone you know fits the outline of this piece of legislation, please contact our team at Legal Help In Colorado. Stepping forward has the opportunity to open old wounds, however, pursuing legal ramifications against your abuser can help you heal. We want to support you on the path to justice. Let us help you consider your options.