Maryland Lawmakers Consider Next Step in Priest Child Sex Abuse Case, Eliminating Statute of Limitations

Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori addresses his congregation. Screenshot via @archbaltimore on Instagram.

What’s happening?

Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases, allowing victims to file lawsuits regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred, Matt Bush reports for WYPR. 

What are the details of the legislation?

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Will Smith (D-Montgomery), would replace a 2017 law that capped the maximum age for sexually abused children to file lawsuits at 38 years old. Under the new bill, sexual abuse victims can sue both public and private entities at any age and caps the max penalty liability at $850,000 public entities and $1.5 million for private entities.

At the hearing on the bill last week, only one person spoke in opposition to the legislation. Carey Silverman of the American Tort Reform Association said that the bill represented “an unprecedented approach that’s not anywhere else in Maryland law.”

“We have those statute of limitations, they may seem arbitrary, but they’re there so that judges and juries can decide and evaluate liability when we have the records available, when we have the evidence and the witnesses available to testify and come to the right conclusion on what occurred,” Silverman said. “It’s never easy to tell someone the time to sue has passed no matter what type of claim it is.”

Anything else I should know? 

The legislation comes at the same time as a judge’s order to release to the public the full report of the Maryland Attorney General’s four-year-long investigation into decades of abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The investigation implicates 158 priests in the abuse of more than 600 children over 80 years. 

You can read more here. 

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