Former NFL player talks of childhood sexual assault in pushing Virginia victims bill
Advocates for childhood victims of sexual assault enlisted the help of a hard-hitting lobbyist on Monday to persuade lawmakers to expand the existing statute of limitations for civil lawsuits so that victims could sue their abusers long after the event.
With lawmakers unable to agree on whether to extend the statute of limitations to 25 years, eight years or a compromise between the two, advocates tapped former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Al Chesley to help push for the longest period possible.
In a small press conference, Chesley, 53, who played with the Eagles in Superbowl XV against the Oakland Raiders and with the Pittsburgh Panthers' 1976 national championship team, shared his story of victimization as a boy at the hands of a D.C. police officer.
Chesley said the officer befriended him through youth programs, offered him rides in his unmarked police car, and then invited him to his apartment and pressed him to engage in sex.
Afterwards, Chesley said that he repressed the experience with the help of drugs, alcohol and denial. Four years ago, therapy helped him realize that what occurred had not been consensual, it had not been his fault, and it had been nothing less than a crime that had been committed against him, he said. Since then, he has spoken out on behalf of other victims.
"I'm not here for any lawsuit or any money," Chesley said. "What I'm doing now is surviving. I'm surviving by speaking out."
Under current law, a victim may file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages up to two years after the abuse occurred, after the victim turns 18 years old, or after the discovery of the abuse, perhaps because of a recovered memory.
Bills sponsored by Sen. Frederick M. Quayle (R-Chesapeake) and Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) would have extended that period to 25 years. The Senate passed an amended version of Quayle's bill that would set the limit at 20 years. The House passed Albo's bill after reducing the period to eight years.
Some House Republicans are pushing for a compromise at 15 years, but advocate groups such as National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT) have rejected the shorter period and want lawmakers to stick with 20, according to Camille Cooper, PROTECT's legislative liaison.
| February 21, 2011; 2:40 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2011
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