Bill Could Mean Big Change For Child Victims of Sexual Abuse - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Bill Could Mean Big Change For Child Victims of Sexual Abuse

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The Assembly Judiciary Committee heard testimony, in favor of of a bill that would double the length of the statute of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse.  Nobody testified against the initiative, but more than a dozen people testified in favor of the change, including attorney Gloria Allred.

"It would help to empower victims and will assist victims to become survivors," Allred said. "It will also teach the wrongdoers that they must bear the cost of the wrong and be accountable for what they have forced the victims to suffer."

Allred testified on a similar bill, two years ago.  The bill passed, changing the statute of limitations for criminal cases of sexual assault from 10 years to 20 years.  The case was helped by the testimony of women who allege sexual allegations by Bill Cosby.  Linda Kirkpatrick says she was sexually assaulted by Cosby in Las Vegas when she was 24 years old.  She testified, Wednesday, for sexual abuse she endured as a child.

"When my sister-mama, Gloria, said 'where are the children?', my hand goes up," Kirkpatrick said. "Six. I was six years old the first time I was sexually abused by a grown man, who was my brother."

Kirkpatrick says it took her 17 years to come forward about her abuse.  She said she was also sexually abused by her 75-year-old neighbor when she was only 15.

"It was 45 years before I ever told anybody that and you are the first people I'm telling that," Kirkpatrick said.

Assembly Bill 145 is sponsored by Assemblywomen Lisa Krasner and Irene Bustamante Adams.  They say some victims need more time than others to come forward for a list of reasons.  Some are so young, they do not know what is actually happening.  Others feel shame, fear, were threatened by the aggressor, or are afraid to tell their parents. Changing the statute of limitations gives victims more time to gain the strength to come forward.

"Yes, it's going to be challenging for that individual but the point is does the victim deserve a window of opportunity more than just the limited amount we have," Bustamante Adams, D-Las Vegas said.

"Sexual abuse of our children must stop. Victims deserve to have justice and closure," Krasner, R-Reno said.

Testimony came from men and women who were sexually abused, decades earlier, including some in their 70s and 80s.  They say they are doing it for today's children who feel like they have no voice.

"Putting myself out there today, speaking about things that happened to me when I was a child that I've never done in a public setting, I felt completely vulnerable and naked but willing to do it for others because I can't do it for my child self," Kirkpatrick said.

AB145 would also extend the statute of limitations for victims of child pornography from three years to 20, if the victim was less than 16 years old when it happened.  Victims would also have 20 years to file a civil suit, after a verdict in a related criminal case.  A victim also has 20 years to seek damages, from the time physical or emotional injury is identified.  That could include anything from sexually transmitted diseases to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcoholism, or drug abuse.

"I urge you to support it for all of the brave children, now adults, who are counting on your vote to help them win the justice and the healing that they will otherwise be denied," Allred said.

"I beg you to support this bill and let there be no statute of limitations," Kirkpatrick said. "Give us a fighting chance because we, victims, have a life sentence of the crime perpetrated against us."

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