AP

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

Mar 28, 2023, 6:43 AM

The State Capitol in Olympia...

The State Capitol in Olympia (Photo: David Ryder, Getty Images)

(Photo: David Ryder, Getty Images)

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.

House Bill 1618 would remove time limits that have stymied lawsuits by some people who frequently do not fully confront childhood trauma until years later, The Seattle Times reported.

The bill has passed the state House on an 82-14 vote and cleared a Senate committee last week.

Washington’s current statute of limitations requires victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits within three years of when the abuse occurred, or three years from when they discovered harms it caused, such as depression, addiction or suicidality.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Darya Farivar, D-Seattle, told the newspaper she’s heard story after story of survivors trying to access the justice system to hold people accountable, to be able to move on with their lives, and they can’t do that.

“This is a really meaningful way to address that,” Farivar said.

At a March 21 public hearing, supporters of the bill — including survivors, experts and plaintiff attorneys — urged lawmakers to remove the time barrier.

The move to end the civil statute of limitations follows the state Legislature’s action in 2019 to eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions of child sex abuse.

While HB 1618 received overwhelming support in public testimony, some warned it could unleash a costly barrage of lawsuits.

Tyna Ek, general counsel for the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, said in New York, thousands of lawsuits were filed after the state in 2019 opened a new window for survivors to sue over childhood sexual abuse.

Ek suggested at the hearing that lawmakers instead consider establishing a victim compensation fund.

“If you are going to open the floodgates against public entities, like schools, … do it in a way where you set up a mechanism and you fund it,” she said.

Washington state’s Department of Children, Youth and Families is already facing 222 lawsuits over alleged abuse in foster care and other settings. The Attorney General’s Office estimates an additional 50 lawsuits per year will be filed against the department if HB 1618 is passed, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill.

Backers of the bill say such costs are the price of justice, arguing the financial and emotional burden for abuse has long been carried by survivors.

“At the end of the day, it’s about accountability. It is about holding ourselves accountable when we think about our state agencies,” Farivar said.

AP

moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

18 hours ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

2 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

4 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

4 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

5 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

5 days ago

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits