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New Maryland law stops statute of limitations for survivors to sue sex abusers

New Maryland law stops statute of limitations for survivors to sue sex abusers
New Maryland law stops statute of limitations for survivors to sue sex abusers 02:26

BALTIMORE - Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed dozens of bills into law Tuesday afternoon, hours after the 2023 legislative session ended.

One of those new Maryland laws will open the door to new lawsuits brought by survivors of child sex abuse.

Survivors of child abuse have been pushing lawmakers to pass the "Child Victims Act" for decades.
Finally, Senate Bill 686, House Bill 1 is now a law.

There is no longer a statute of limitations for survivors of child sex abuse in Maryland to sue their abusers.

"It doesn't feel real. It really doesn't," survivor Teresa Lancaster said. "We've been denied so many times."

Redacted report detailing years of abuse in Maryland Catholic Church released 01:35

Lancaster stood behind state leaders Tuesday as the Child Victims Act was signed, which gives survivors the ability to sue institutions like churches and schools.

"We've been coming back every year and giving our story and repeating it over and over, and finally, we were heard. It's a big step," Lancaster said.

The signing of the bill into law comes days after the release of a report from the Attorney General's Office detailing decades of abuse within the Baltimore Catholic Church.

Investigators say more than 600 children are known to be victims by more than 150 abusers, mostly clergy and staff.

"Once you see 600 kids abused, you know you have to do something, right?" said David Lorenz, Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"They worked together to cover up their crimes and, in some cases, they worked together to make sure they could continue committing those crimes," Gov. Moore said.

The governor called the report sickening and heartbreaking.

"It addresses the big gap between justice and our legal system," Gov. Moore said.

Abuse survivor, delegate CT Wilson, had pushed for this legislation for years.
"This bill, in the end, will not undo years of suffering, but maybe it'll give us hope," Delegate Wilson said.

Survivors told WJZ this bill is about the opportunity to confront and name their abusers in court.
 They are also fighting to remove the redactions from last week's church abuse report.

"For survivors, it allows them to kind of unshackle from the guilt and the shame and the fear and all of the other things that have kept them quiet" Lorenz said. "And they can stick that right where it belongs and that's that the feet of the church, or the feet of the school, or the feet of the Boy Scouts."

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