FIRST STAR INSTITUTE TESTIMONY RE: HB 687 SUPPORT, WITH AMENDMENTS
Submitted to the Maryland House Judiciary Committee Delegate Luke Clippinger, Chair Delegate Vanessa E. Atterbeary, Vice Chair Good afternoon, My name is Noy Davis. I am the Vice President of Operations of First Star Institute First Star is a child advocacy policy organization, founded in Maryland, that evaluates and publishes reports on various laws and practices that promote the welfare of abused and neglected children, including A Child’s Right to Counsel (4th ed to be released in May), and State Secrecy and Child Deaths in the US. First Star is committed to supporting change that will result in all children receiving the supports they need to grow up to lead happy, healthy and productive lives.
First Star supports HB 687, as amended. First Star supports the elimination of all civil statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse (SOL). Having an SOL protects perpetrators and systems that allow them to flourish. Removing it opens the door to the possibility of justice for survivors, to the possibility of shifting the financial burden for harms to the perpetrators and allows society to clearly state that child sexual abuse is wrong and that it will not maintain laws that protect abusers. Child sexual abuse is a widespread problem, with estimates ranging from 18- 20% for girls and 3 to 17% for boys. (D. Coilin-Vezina, I Daigneault, M Hebert, Lessons learned from child sexual abuse research: prevalence, outcomes and preventive strategies, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 7:22). Whether for associated trauma, psychological, familial, or other reasons, disclosure of childhood sexual abuse does not usually occur until adulthood. Approximately 60% of victims do not disclose until adulthood, with some estimates setting the average age for disclosure at 52. (SOL Fact Sheet https://www.childusa.org/sol) Statutes of limitations simply favor perpetrators.