Window Would Open For Child Sex Abuse Victims To Sue With Proposed Bill

Feb 12, 2019

The Indiana Senate will consider a bill giving victims of child sex abuse a limited window to file civil lawsuits against their abuser – even if the statute of limitations has expired.

Victims of child sex abuse can sue their abusers in civil court. But they can only do so within either seven years of when they were abused or four years after they’re no longer a dependent of their abuser.

Jancy Thompson says that’s often not enough time. She was a USA swimmer, abused by her coach in her early teens. And she says she didn’t come to terms with that until her 20s.

“I may not have the physical scars of the abuse but I endure deep, emotional ones that will last me a lifetime,” Thompson says.

A proposed bill would open a three-year window – through 2022 – when the victims can sue, regardless of whether the statute of limitations expired.

Kim Compton says the bill will empower victims. Her son Chris was abused by a priest when he was 9 years-old but didn’t tell her – or anyone – for decades.

“It’s a chance for them to speak up loud and clear," Compton says.

The bill is set for a Senate committee hearing.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story said victims of child sex abuse could only sue their abusers in court "within four years of turning 18, if their abuser was their parent or guardian." For the purpose of clarity, it has been changed to "four years after they’re no longer a dependent of their abuser."