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Ensuring victims’ access to justice

Iowa Senate Update

March 5, 2014
By State Senator Steve Sodders - D-State Center , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

When legislators deal with criminal law issues, we often hear, "what about the victims?" This week the Senate approved SF 2109, solid evidence that we really do care about victims. For years, those who've suffered sexual abuse-often at the hands of trusted family members and friends-have been denied access to justice.

That's why we voted to extend the time to bring civil and criminal charges relating to sex abuse of children. Under the bill, the time to bring a civil action is extended from one year after a child turns 18 to 25 years after a child turns 18. Criminal actions may be brought within 25 years after the child turns 18. Current law says they have to be brought within 10 years after age 18.

We also adopted an amendment that extends the statutes of limitations for other sexual offenses committed against children: lascivious acts with a child, assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse, indecent contact with a child, lascivious conduct with a minor, and lascivious conduct with a detained juvenile.

Article Photos

State Senator Steve Sodders

According to Marci Hamilton, professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, an expert in statutes of limitations relating to child sex abuse, "Sexual abuse can alter a child's physical, emotional, cognitive and social development and impact their physical and mental health through his or her lifetime. Typically, it takes years for the victim to recognize these negative outcomes-usually as an adult experiencing a major life event. The damage done by sexual abuse can be crippling."

Our children are our most valuable resource. We must allow those who have been harmed to have access to justice and do what we can to stop others from being abused.



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