Delegate C.T. Wilson has been fighting to get his bill passed, allowing more time for adult survivors of child sex abuse to file a lawsuit. Wilson, a survivor of child sexual abuse, shared his story with his colleagues for the first time two years ago.
“I really thought that maybe giving my testimony up this would be a no-brainer that my colleagues would get behind me,” Wilson said. “I had no idea the battle I was in for.” He went on to say that opening up about his past brought opened up old wounds.
Wilson’s proposed bill set in limbo, as the Catholic Church and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee lobbied behind the scenes to prevent it from getting to the governor’s desk. The bill finally made its way to the House floor this year, where it was approved unanimously.
On Tuesday, Governor Larry Hogan signed the bill into law. Afterwards, Hogan and Wilson shook hands as the attendees applauded his efforts. The new bill allows adult victims of child abuse until they are 38 years old to file a civil lawsuit against an alleged perpetrator. Advocates say increasing the age limit from 25 to 38 will give victims more opportunity to secure justice.
Three more bills dealing with sexual assault unanimously passed the House on Tuesday. One of the bills would no longer require victims to show they resisted a rapist. The others bills would nullify the distinction between rape and other serious sexual offenses and create new rules for handling DNA evidence in sexual assault cases. The bills are now ready to be sent to the governor’s desk.
Legislation proposed by Hogan, would add child sex trafficking to the definition of child abuse.