MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama lawmakers could have the chance to extend the amount of time childhood sexual assault survivors have to bring a civil suit against their abuser.
House Bill 370 has been introduced to a legislative committee, but the measure has quite a ways to go if it’s going to pass in this legislative session.
In Alabama, survivors of childhood sexual assault have six years from the time they turn 19 to bring a civil lawsuit against their abuser. Supporters of this bill say that’s not always enough time for young people to grapple with their trauma.
HB 370 would raise the age at which a survivor of childhood sexual assault can bring a civil suit against their abuser.
“The timer starts the day you turn 19 and you have at this point, six years to be able to tell your story, to go to court to seek some kind of legal redress and to take on your abuser,” says Stuart Vance.
If the bill were signed into law, it would extend the statute of limitations for child victims from six years to 36 years.
“Our goal is to make sure that they have the ability when they are ready to come forward and confront their abusers,” says Vance.
Bill supporter Stuart Vance says it took more than forty years for him to be able to share his childhood sexual assault story.
“I was sexually assaulted by my music teacher at age 16. I sat on this for pushing 40 years because I just was not ready to deal with it,” says Vance.
It would also create a 2-year window, during which any childhood sexual assault survivor can seek justice.
“Anyone regardless of when they were assaulted will be able to bring charges for a two-year window from the time the law is signed, the bill is signed into law,” says Vance.
The bill is only for civil cases, not criminal. Vance says extending the statute of limitations will make sure that childhood victims have the time to come forward, share their stories and seek damages from their abuse when they are ready as adults.
View the bill text for HB370 here.