Apr 042006
Authors: JAMES BAETKE The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The governor is deciding the fate of a bill that would squelch statute of limitations against individuals who are accused of child sex abuse.

House Bill 1088 will give victims the chance to seek prosecution against sex crimes against children decades after abuse.

Proponents are calling the measure victim-friendly, allowing victims to come foward when they are ready.

“We’re grateful to Rep. (Rosemary) Marshall and Sen. (Paula) Sandoval for listening to the concerns of the community and revising HB 1088 to make it viable,” said Timothy Dore, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference.

The original form of the bill included civil actions for victims to seek monetary damages for sex abuses that occurred during their childhood. The original bill made the Archdiocese of Denver uneasy since they face 24 clergy abuse lawsuits.

Later endorsement came from the Colorado Catholic Conference after the bill was amended not to include civil lawsuits.

At least one lawmaker is concerned that eliminating the current 10-year statute of limitations would come down to the alleged victim’s words against the accused.

“At the end of the day, a decade-old alleged assault can’t be proven,” said Sen. Jim Dyer, R-Centennial, who voted no on the bill.

If Gov. Bill Owens signs the HB 1088, it will go into effect July 1.

According to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, more than 29 percent of rape victims in the state are younger than 11. Also, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18.

HB 1088 is part of a trio of sex abuse bills under Colorado legislation dealing with statute of limitations. Senate Bill 143 would allow a two-year window to which adult plaintiffs could sue for past childhood sex abuse, no matter how long ago it occurred.

HB 1090 would eliminate the statute of limitations for civil claims starting July 1, when the bill would take effect, and for crimes that date back to July 1, 1996.

James Baetke can be reached at regional@collegian.com

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