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Senate committee votes to eliminate statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims

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Posted at 4:03 PM, May 25, 2021

Legislation aimed at giving victims of child sex abuse more time to pursue damages is advancing at the capitol.

Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee A voted to amend HB 492 to remove a prescriptive period, or time limit, for such cases.

Under current law a victim of child sex abuse has until 10 years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. The legislation, proposed by Rep. Jason Hughes (D-New Orleans), sought to expand that prescriptive period to 35 years after a victim’s 18th birthday.

“In my opinion there should never be a time limit on this,” said Sen. Barrow Peacock (R-Shreveport).

The committee heard testimony from survivors of child sex abuse, their families. Among them, Letitia Peyton, whose son Oliver was abused by Father Michael Guidry.

“Today we can make some changes in state laws, so that where psychological murder seemed to be the end, we can give life, healing, justice, joy, hope and peace to victims of sexual abuse,” testified Peyton.

There was also a change of heart from the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. In a house committee earlier this month, a lobbyist with the organization was the lone card in opposition to the bill. Tuesday, the LCCB submitted a card in support of the bill.

“I don't think it’s because they like the bill, but because they had such public backlash,” said Quinn Hebert with the Society of St. Peter Damian. The SSPD is a group of devout Catholics that has been outspoken about Diocese of Lafayette’s handling of the clergy sex abuse crisis. “They looked like fools in the media so of course they’ll want to support it now. That should tell you there is a lot of support for this bill.”

The bill next heads to the full senate for consideration.

To read the bill and track its progress, click here.