OKLAHOMA CITY — State Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, on Tuesday secured committee passage of a bill that would eliminate age restrictions for future civil actions against individuals based on childhood sexual abuse incidents or exploitation.
House Bill 1002 would remove from state law the restriction that a victim of child sexual abuse or exploitation, suffered before they were 18, must bring any action for recovery of damages to the courts by their 45th birthday.
HB 1002 also would allow a five-year window, beginning Nov. 1 for the filing of retroactive claims for childhood sexual abuse for those persons who were previously barred from filing due to the age limitation.
It also would expand from two years to 30 the commencement of any action for recovery of damages from a for-profit or nonprofit organization or other entity that participated either willingly or negligently in the abuse or exploitation.
Changes in statute were first requested by one of Bush’s constituents. The woman’s father molested her daily beginning at the age of six. The victim didn’t come to terms with the crime until she was approaching 40, but by then was barred from action because of the statute of limitations.
Bush ran legislation addressing the issue in 2017, after she was first elected to the House. She was able to amend statute giving victims until their 45th birthday to pursue damages. HB 1002 would remove the age limit altogether.
Bush said sometimes a victim of child sexual abuse can bury trauma in their minds until they are emotionally mature.
CHILD USA, a national nonprofit focused on ending child abuse and neglect, reports that of child sexual abuse survivors that do disclose, on average, they don’t disclose until they are 52 years old.
Victims then have a challenge of proving the abuse happened and financing a sometimes years-long legal battle.
HB 1002 passed the House Judiciary-Civil Committee with a vote of 9-0. It is eligible to be considered by the entire House.
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