Extension of statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims fails

A bill to remove time limits on the filing of lawsuits by victims of child sexual abuse has failed to make it out of the Judiciary Committee.

“For now, it’s not going forward. I am a little discouraged,” said Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, one of the leading advocates to remove the time limits. “I am not sure we had all the votes we needed.”

She also said with the committee facing a Friday deadline to act on bills, the controversial measure was sure to monopolize time.

The proposal — which faced opposition from the insurance industry and the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference — would have lifted to 30-year window victims have to file suit for all future actions.

The statute of limitations question is of immediate importance to the Catholic Conference because of a high-profile case currently taking place against St. Francis Hospital. That suit claims the hospital failed to appropriately handle sexual abuse allegations against Dr. George Reardon, former St. Francis endocrinologist suspected of abusing hundreds of children starting as early as the 1960s. More than 50 victims in that case are unable to file suit because too much time has passed.

Previous attempts to lift the statue of limitations have failed, but Bye had described the latest proposal as a “compromise” because it would only apply to future cases and would not help the victims in the Reardon case.

The Insurance Association of Connecticut testified against the bill because they said it would be difficult to prove a case 60 years after an alleged event took place.

Bye said even though the proposal is not expected to go anywhere this year, she does not plan to give up.

“This isn’t going away,” she said.