A new law that went into effect on October 1, 2023 allows survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that enabled them, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.
The “Child Victims Act” was signed into law earlier this year. It eliminates the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits related to child sexual abuse claims in the state of Maryland. Previously, survivors only had until age 38 to take legal action against their abusers.
A key driver behind the new law was the release in January 2023 of a scathing 463-page report by the Maryland Attorney General’s office, which revealed that over 150 Catholic clergy members associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore had sexually abused more than 600 children over the past 80 years. The report has added pressure for accountability and justice.
The “Child Victims Act” allows survivors who were previously barred from filing lawsuits because of the statute of limitations to take their claims of abuse to court.
However, the law includes monetary damage caps based on the type of defendant. For government agencies, damages are capped at $890,000. For non-government entities like churches and schools, damages are capped at $1.5 million for non-economic suffering. No limits are set for economic damages like medical bills.
Supporters say the law provides long-awaited justice for survivors of sexual abuse.
Critics argue the lack of statutes of limitations erodes due process rights of potential defendants and institutions by making defense incredibly difficult for decades-old allegations. The Catholic Church has already filed bankruptcy as a means of handling lawsuits filed because of the legal measure. An Ocean City sex abuse lawyer can explain how childhood sex abuse claims can proceed in the wake of the bankruptcy filing.
Maryland is among over 30 states reforming their child sex abuse laws. New Jersey, New York, California, and others have implemented similar eliminations of statutes of limitations for childhood sex abuse. These changes are triggering bankruptcy declarations from Catholic Dioceses unable to finance lawsuit payouts.
While the Catholic Church has faced extensive allegations in this area, clergy abuse occurs across religions. Studies indicate 10-20% of clergy have sexually abused followers.
Ocean City, Maryland has faced such issues. In 2013, Ocean City Police charged a Salisbury resident and former priest with child sex abuse after an investigation into an alleged incident of an illegal sex act at an Ocean City motel in August 1981. OCPD detectives charged the 70-year-old man with a fourth-degree sex offense and child abuse by a custodian.
If you were abused by a Maryland religious leader as a minor, you now have more time to pursue a legal claim which can help with the difficult decision to come forward. An Ocean City child sexual abuse attorney can advise you on the process and build the strongest case possible.
Abuse cases can be sensitive, but you don’t need to deal with it alone. If you have been a victim of a sex crime or sexual molestation in Maryland, you should talk to an attorney. An Ocean City sex crimes attorney can help. Maronick Law LLC is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Ocean City, Towson, White Marsh sex abuse lawsuit needs. The consultation is free.
We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact the law office at 410-881-4022 or through the website for a free