|Maryland lawmakers are considering ending the state’s statute of limitations for when lawsuits can be filed against institutions related to child sexual abuse, though the state’s courts are likely to decide whether such a change in the law is constitutional if the General Assembly passes one.
Accusers who are now adults were scheduled to testify in favor of the legislation at a hearing Thursday.
Currently, people in Maryland who say they were sexually abused as children can’t sue after they reach the age of 38. The Maryland House has approved legislation in recent years that would have lifted that age limit, but it stalled in the state Senate.
This year, state Sen. Will Smith, who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, is sponsoring a bill that would end the age limit. He said in an interview that he’s confident the bill will pass this year but that the judiciary likely will have the final say.
Fifteen states have lifted statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse, according to Child USAdvocacy, a nonprofit that advocates for better laws to protect children. Twenty-four have approved revival periods known as “lookback windows,” which are limited timeframes in which accusers can sue, regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.
In 2017, Maryland raised the age that accusers can file lawsuits from 25 to 38. But the law also included language, known as a statute of repose, that some say prevents lawmakers from extending the statute of limitations again.