Louisiana lawmakers pass legislation that will give victims of child sex abuse more time to come forward with civil claim

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 6:06 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Louisiana lawmakers passed legislation this week that will give survivors of child sex abuse more time to come forward with claims in civil court.

CHILD USAdvocacy, a national non-profit working on a movement to reform child sexual abuse statute of limitations across the country, applauds Louisiana lawmakers for unanimously voting in favor of the legislation that will eliminate the civil statute of limitations for all child sex abuse claims.

“Allowing victims to come forward when they’re ready, when they’re able to fully deal with the shame, the pain, any psychological trauma they may have, that is just good public policy and good law. And, quite frankly, the children of Louisiana are much safer today than they were yesterday,” said Kathryn Robb, Esq., Executive Director of CHILD USAdvocacy.

If the legislation is signed into law, victims with previously expired child sex abuse claims will also have three years to come forward in civil court.

“Essentially what this 3-year window does, is, it opens a period of time, 3 years, in which those that were previously barred by these archaic statute of limitations can then file suit and that’s really important because what that does, is, it allows individuals and the society at large in Louisiana to identify hidden predators,” said Robb.

Richard Windmann and John Anderson formed their own support group called “Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse.” They say the legislation send a message to other survivors in Louisiana.

“That you are believed, that what happened to you is real and people actually care, the State cares about it, constituents care about you, your fellow citizens care,” said Windmann.

“This is what the message is, we’re not going to tolerate it ever again and I can tell you this, every child that needs help, we are here for you and we want anyone, anyone at all, that needs help, to come forward and let’s get this done, let’s throw out the trash forever,” said Anderson.

We asked the Archdiocese of New Orleans how the new legislation would impact pending claims in the Church’s ongoing Federal bankruptcy case. They didn’t answer that question but did send us the following statement:

“As a church we remain committed to doing all that we can for the healing of survivors of abuse. This legislation allows those abused not only in churches and schools but in their families, playgrounds, workplaces, youth organizations, and other public businesses where children and teenagers should be safe to pursue their claims in court regardless of when it occurred. We offer our prayers for the healing of all survivors and extend the offer of professional counseling through Catholic Counseling Services to all those survivors seeking a path to healing.”

We also received the following statement from attorneys Richard Trahant, Soren Gisleson, and John Denenea:

“We represent the most clergy sexual abuse survivors in the State of Louisiana. The Archdiocese of New Orleans ran from our lawsuits and hid in bankruptcy court. The Archdiocese has continued to beat up these survivors and tried to minimize the value of the 452 survivors’ claims by constantly shoving the statute of limitations in their faces. No more. Yesterday, the Louisiana Legislature showed the moral authority that the Archdiocese lacks completely.”

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