Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
About this Blog   |   On Twitter   |   Follow us on Facebook   |   RSS Feeds RSS Feed
Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 02/24/2011

Va. House clears bill extending time for sex assault victims to sue

By Fredrick Kunkle

The House on Thursday agreed to give victims of childhood sexual assault more time to sue their abusers, clearing the way for final passage of one of the more combative issues of the session.

The compromise would allow victims to file a lawsuit up to 20 years after the event, after the victim turns 18 years old, or after the abuse has come to light, such as through a recovered memory. The current statute of limitations sets a two-year limit.

Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) urged passage of the modified bill, saying it represented a difficult compromise after an emotionally charged debate. Several adult victims of sexual abuse traveled to the General Assembly to lobby for the measure, sharing poignant stories about emotional scars inflicted decades ago by abuse from clergy, police officers and other adults whom they had trusted.

But some lawmakers and organizations, including the Catholic Church, expressed reservations about extending the deadline too far. They said it would be difficult and unfair for organizations to defend against allegations that happened long in the past. They also expressed concern that tangled memories about a distant event and an absence of witnesses or other evidence could make it easier for an innocent person to be wrongly accused.

As initially written, the bills sponsored by Albo and Sen. Frederick M. Quayle (R-Chesapeake) would have extended the deadline to 25 years.

The Senate passed an amended version of Quayle's bill that would set the limit at 20 years. The House adopted Albo's bill but reduced the period to eight years. That was amended again in the Senate to 20 years, like Quayle's, and returned to the House. Albo spoke in favor of the compromise and the House passed his bill 95 to 0. Quayle's bill also passed unanimously.

"For some people, I think it could provide some access to the courts," said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond's School of Law. He also dismissed fears that people might bring groundless suits. "I just don't think it's going to open the door to those kinds of complaints," Tobias said.

By Fredrick Kunkle  | February 24, 2011; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2011  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: UPDATED:Virginia House passes bill that eases NOVA's anticompetitive concerns about water utilities
Next: Legislature passes police pursuit rules inspired by Fairfax case


Thank you to the Virginia lawmakers for making the state safer for kids by enabling crime victims to expose predators in court.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511
"Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests"

Posted by: snapjudy | February 25, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The Let Go...Let Peace Come In Foundation is a nonprofit with a mission to help heal and support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse worldwide. We are actively seeking adult survivors who would be willing to post a childhood photo and caption, their story, or their creative expressions to our website By uniting survivors from across the globe we can help provide a stronger and more powerful voice to those survivors who have not yet found the courage to speak out. We also have a prepared a youtube video that can be viewed at Together we can; together we should; together we NEED to stand up and be counted. Please visit our site for more details on how you can send us your submissions.

Thank you for everything you do!

Gretchen Paules
Administrative Director
Let Go...Let Peace Come In Foundation
630 W. Germantown Pike; Suite 180
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

Posted by: letgolet | February 25, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company