Gov. Wes Moore signed legislation on Tuesday to end Maryland’s statute of limitations for when civil lawsuits for child sexual abuse can be filed against institutions.
The bill signing comes less than a week after the state’s attorney general released a report that documented the scope of abuse spanning 80 years and accused church leaders of decades of coverups.
Under current law, people in Maryland who say they were sexually abused as children can’t sue after they reach the age of 38.
“There is no statute of limitations on the hurt that endures for decades after someone is assaulted,” Moore, a Democrat, said. “There is no statute of limitations on the trauma that harms so many still to this day, and this law reflects that exact truth.”
The Maryland General Assembly passed the bill last week, hours after Attorney General Anthony Brown released a long-awaited report of nearly 500 pages with details about more than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore abusing over 600 children.
State investigators began their work in 2019. They reviewed over 100,000 pages of documents dating back to the 1940s and interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses.
The measure to end the statute of limitations has been sponsored for several years in Maryland by Del. C.T. Wilson, a Democrat who has testified about being abused in his youth.
“I thank all the survivors that came up year after year and told their stories,” Wilson said.
David Lorenz, the Maryland leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests who attended the ceremony, said he was “thrilled for my fellow survivors.”