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State Senator

Mae Flexer

Representing Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson & Windham

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Sen. Flexer Leads Task Force in Unanimous Proposal to Retroactively Eliminate CT's Statute of Limitations in Civil Sex Assault Cases

HARTFORD – A legislative task force charged with examining Connecticut’s statute of limitations in sexual assault cases today unanimously recommended that the General Assembly change state law and retroactively eliminate the statute of limitations in civil cases involving sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and sexual assault.

State Senator Mae Flexer (D-29th), who chaired the eight-member task force, said a task force report reflecting that change will be submitted to the Judiciary Committee on January 15; the report will recommend this change be raised in a bill by the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Flexer is a member of the Judiciary Committee.

If the bill is approved by the Judiciary Committee, passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law by the governor, Connecticut would become only the second state in America to eliminate the statute of limitations in civil cases involving sexual assault, abuse, or exploitation. Twelve states made changes to their statute of limitations laws in 2019.

“I am gratified that the diverse membership of this task force considered the very compelling testimony of the victims who came from all over Connecticut to speak with us, and that they considered the expert testimony that was also presented,” Sen. Flexer said. “The difference this bill will make if it is signed into law will be huge. It will recognize the years of injustice suffered by many sexual abuse victims in Connecticut and allow them to seek justice and truly begin their own healing process.”

Current Connecticut law allows child sex abuse victims to bring child sex abuse claims forward until 30 years after the age of majority (21); the average sex abuse victim comes forward at the age of 54. This means when many sex abuse victims disclose their abuse for the first time, they discover they have no recourse in our court system. Task force members heard testimony about the experiences of victims from all over Connecticut, including child and young adult victims. Task force members also studied the recent statute of limitations changes in other states, and the relatively low numbers of new cases that resulted from those changes, even where the statute of limitations was completely eliminated.

The eight-member task force included Sen. Flexer, a Superior Court judge, three private-sector attorneys, a member of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and a child sex abuse survivor. The Superior Court judge abstained from voting on the final recommendation, citing judicial ethics rules with regard to policy debates.

“There’s a lot of partisan politics nowadays, and for this task force to reach a unanimous decision on this recommendation is a remarkable thing,” said task force member Paul Slager, an attorney who is also president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association. “The people who testified before us gave compelling reasons for eliminating the statute of limitations for these cases in Connecticut.”

“Most victims have to end up paying for treatment, and this change may help them pay for those treatment services,” said task force member Lynn Laperle, who is a child sex abuse survivor. “It’s not a rarity for victims to have that issue; most victims have those struggles. And the long-term effects are devastating.”

“This change will help a lot of people who have suffered. It will help them deal with their trauma, and it might even help them repay some of the costs they have had to incur to deal with their trauma,” said task force member Lucy Nolan, who is Director of Public Policy and Public Relations for the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

 

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