Maryland Senate passes bill: Child sex abuse lawsuits

The legislation will terminate the statute of limitations for lawsuits against the accused for negligence involving issues related to child sexual abuse. It passed the Maryland Senate in the past week. The bill was sponsored by Sen. William C. Smith, D-Montgomery, who had passed the Senate in a 42-5 vote. The proposed legislation was sent to the House of Delegates. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee. The House had passed a version of the same bill. Crux reported the Maryland Catholic Conference had criticized the bill for its unequal treatment of private groups. This legislation creates a different set of rules for public entities, which differ a lot from that of private entities. It would further eliminate the statute of limitations for any victim to file a lawsuit that would be related to child sexual abuse against both the public as well as private entities. The bill would cap the amount the victims will receive at different levels based on whether the lawsuit was filed against a public or private entity.

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Victim suing a public entity in case of the proposed legislation

As per the proposed legislation, a victim suing a public entity, such as that of a public school, will be awarded up to $890,000. On the contrary, a victim who sues a private entity, such as that of a Catholic Church, could be awarded up to $1.5 million. It is nearly 70% more than that of the public entities. Victims can file lawsuits against the entities if the legislation gets retroactive. As per the current statute of limitations, the span reserved for suing the entities is 7 years from the day prior to the 18th birthday of the victim. In case of lawsuits against the direct offenders, the statute of limitations will be only when the person turns 18 years, and it shall continue for 20 years. The Maryland Catholic said, “These bills treat public and private institutions differently by setting a lower ceiling on how much a public school board, for example, could be sued compared to a private institution such as a parish or nonpublic school.” It added, “This creates two classes of survivors and greatly increases the financial harm to the Church and its ministries.”

The email reads rules to other states.

The email read, “The draconian provision of an unlimited window for currently time-barred civil cases to be filed, regardless of when they occurred, is nearly unprecedented among similar laws passed in other states.” Similar kinds of rules have financially damaged across the country over abuse allegations which had spanned for half of a century of even more. The Diocese of Albany filed for bankruptcy has finally decided for settling for more than 50 lawsuits, and it dated back to the 1970s. The Diocese of Oakland may however, require to declare bankruptcy for similar causes. A Maryland judge had approved the release of the sexual abuse investigation of the attorney general into the Diocese of Baltimore that spanned for 80 years.

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