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South Carolina May Be Next State to Extend Child Sexual Abuse Statute Of Limitation Laws

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A bill has been proposed in South Carolina that would extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits. If passed, South Carolina would join a growing number of states nationwide that have allowed previously time-barred claims to be pursued long after incidents of abuse involving minor children.

The current South Carolina statute of limitations requires any claim involving sexual abuse as a child to be brought within six years of an individuals 21st birth day, or three years after discovery an injury caused by the abuse. However, given systemic efforts by the Catholic Church and other organizations to coverup abuse problems and discourage individuals from coming forward for years, many states are updating the statute of limitations to provide more time for adults to present claims against their abuser or institutions that enabled the assault.

According to a recent report by WCSC Channel 5 in Charleston, South Carolina, Representative Marvin Pendarvis introduced a bill that it appears would mirror legislation recently enacted in New York, New Jersey, California and other states in recent months.

In New York, a new child sex abuse statute of limitations went into effect in August, allowing individuals to file claims until they reach the age of 55, and providing a one year “window” for previously time barred claims to be filed.

Similar legislation went into effect in New Jersey this month, allowing child sexual abuse claims to be filed until an individual reaches the age of 55, or within seven years after they first realize abuse caused them harm. A two year “window” for previously barred claims was opened in New Jersey.

As a result of these changes, hundreds of claims have been presented against the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America and other institutions that have allegedly covered up credible allegations of abuse, and allowed perpetrators to continue abusing children.

Details of the bill to extend the South Carolina sex abuse statute of limitations have not been announced, bu the legislation will be considered by the state house’s judiciary committee next year.

Two dozen states in total have passed similar laws in 2019, according to a report by ChildUSA, a non-profit child protection organization.

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