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Committee approves bill to remove time limits for child sex abuse victims to sue

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A bill that would allow victims of child sexual abuse more time to file civil lawsuits was approved by the Minnesota House Judiciary Committee this afternoon.

Under current law, victims of child sexual abuse need to file civil cases before they turn 24. The House bill would remove all civil statutes of limitations for future victims. It would also create a three-year window in which past victims of child sexual abuse could seek civil damages.

The Minnesota School Boards Association opposes the bill. The group's lobbyist, Grace Kelliher, told lawmakers the bill would create too much legal and financial risk for groups that work with children.

"Given the limitations of what this bill would mean for school districts, you might find today's students, staff and community paying for issues that happened in yester-year," Kelliher said.

Jeff Dion, deputy executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, testified in favor of the bill.

"It's critically important to allow these old cases to come forward in order to protect children today," Dion said.  "Because even when it takes 30 years for a victim to come forward, when they do come forward and the perpetrator is still alive, we often find that they're still molesting kids, because pedophiles don't retire."

The bill is opposed by the Minnesota School Boards Association, the Minnesota Child Care Association, and the Minnesota Religious Council. Opponents say eliminating the statute of limitiations would create too much legal and financial risk for groups that work with children.