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Bill clarifies statute of limitations for child abuse cases

Chris Ramirez
March 15, 2017 06:47 PM

Many times, victims of childhood sex abuse don't come forward about the abuse until they are adults, years after it happens. In fact, that happens very frequently.

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Senate Bill 91 aims to help victims get through the legal process of holding their predators accountable.

"This is an epidemic," said Levi Monagle, an attorney who has represented dozens of adults who were victimized as children. "One in five children will be sexually abused before the age of 18 and only 12 percent of that abuse is ever reported to authorities."

Right now, New Mexico's statute of limitations to allow a victim to hold his or her abuser accountable in civil court is vague. Sometimes victims are turned away by lawyers because New Mexico's laws aren't on their side.

"In our line of work, we have spoken to a lot of individuals who have been sexually abused as children and because of the statute of limitations did not have viable legal claims," Monagle said.

SB 91 aims to add clarification. The victim would have three years after first telling a medical provider or licensed psychological professional about the abuse to file a legal claim.

"This costs the state nothing. This is a free fix for a serious problem," Monagle said. "We have the opportunity with a bill like SB 91 to protect children and protect access to the courts in a very powerful way."

The bill cleared a House committee Wednesday and now heads to the full House for a final vote.  If passed, the governor can either veto or sign it into law.

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Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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