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Bill to give survivors of abuse another avenue to sue attackers almost finished

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Posted at 4:36 PM, Mar 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-28 19:12:01-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Currently, victims of child abuse in Maryland have to sue their attacker in civil court within 25 or 38 years depending on the amount of negligence.

For some, a former law that only gave them three years to sue still applies.

A bill sponsored by Senator Will Smith, a Democrat from Montgomery County, would get rid of that limitation.

“Well this bill is really meaningful to survivors in Maryland, it will provide a sense of justice to those Marylander survivors because the statute of limitations was really short," said David Lorenz, a survivor of abuse himself.

If passed, the bill will play a major role in getting justice for the survivors of abuse by the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

RELATED: Judge approves release of 123 names in Archdiocese sexual abuse report

Lorenz is one of those survivors who supports the bill for a number of reasons.

“It will expose predators that are still hidden among us," said Lorenz.

It wouldn’t stop at just those survivors, hundreds and potentially thousands of people would be eligible to sue.

The bill passed the Senate on March 16 and now Senator Smith is lobbying for it to pass the house.

Senator Chris West voted against the bill in committee saying it was unconstitutional.

There have also been questions on putting a cap on the money that can be awarded, though they haven’t gotten anywhere.

“This bill has been a long time coming and Delegate Wilson, Chair Wilson, has been championing this for a long time and I’m happy to provide the assist," said Senator Smith.

Currently, lawmakers are waiting on a report from the attorney general’s office to be released outlining the systemic abuse by Baltimore’s Catholic Church.

According to the attorney general, more than 150 priests participated and facilitated the abuse over decades.

The report has been submitted to the court for review but doesn’t have a timeline for its release.