Year In Review 2020 | Child Sexual Abuse Legislation Updates

In 2020, many states passed or proposed bills to expand the rights of child sex abuse survivors. Although some bills failed, lawmakers continue to fight for victims.

2020 Proposed & Enacted Child Sex Abuse Legislation

Enacted Child Sex Abuse Legislation

In 2020, eight states enacted legislation to change their statutes of limitations around sexual offenses against minors.

A statute of limitations (SOL) is a legal deadline. SOLs vary based on the jurisdiction, the crime and the intended legal action (i.e., criminal charges versus a civil claim).

Below are the legislative changes in two states: Florida and New York.

Florida Enacts Donna’s Law

On June 23, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 199 (HB 199) into law. This new law is commonly referred to as Donna’s Law.

Donna’s Law eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for sexual battery against a person under 18 years of age.

Florida law defines sexual battery as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object.” The law excludes an act done for medical reasons.

The law went into effect on July 1, 2020. Unfortunately, it is not a retroactive law. Thus, it can help any childhood victim of sexual battery who was assaulted on or after July 1, 2020, in the state of Florida. However, older cases of child sexual battery still fall under the state’s original criminal statutes of limitations.

Learn more about Florida statutes of childhood sexual battery here >

New York Expands Child Victims Act Provisions

In 2019, New York lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act (CVA). The new law expanded the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims.

Additionally, the CVA opened a one-year “look back” window. During the “look back” window, any survivor of child sexual abuse may file a civil claim against an abuser or the responsible institution.

The one-year “look back” window was set to close on August 13, 2020. However, state courts closed for several months due to COVID-19 measures. To give survivors more time, lawmakers passed a one-year extension to keep the window open. The New York CVA’s “look back” window is now set to close on August 14, 2021.

Proposed Child Sex Abuse Legislation

In 2020, 30 states proposed new child sexual abuse legislation. Below are significant legislative proposals in several states.

Arizona

In February 2020, Arizona state senators introduced Senate Bill 1660 (SB 1660). Among other measures, the bill would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for child sex trafficking. The bill passed a Senate vote in March 2020 and now sits in the Arizona House of Representatives.

On December 31, 2020, the Arizona “look back” window closed for child sexual abuse survivors. Going forward, Arizona survivors of child sexual abuse must file a civil claim against their abuser before the statute of limitations expires.

Learn more about the Arizona statutes related to childhood sexual assault here >

Colorado

In February 2020, Colorado lawmakers proposed House Bill 1296 (HB 1296). HB 1296 would eliminate the civil statute of limitations for sexual assault cases in the state of Colorado. The bill’s measures were not retroactive.

The bill passed through the Colorado House. However, shortly after it was introduced to the Senate, one of the lead sponsors of the bill, Senator Julie Gonzales, asked that it be voted down.

Senator Gonzales intends to propose a similar bill that does more for survivors by opening a “look back” window to revive expired cases.

Florida

In January 2020, Florida state senators introduced Senate Bill 1184 (SB 1184). The bill would eliminate the civil statute of limitations for certain sexual offenses and open a one-year “look back” window.

The bill failed to pass in the state Senate in March 2020.

Massachusetts

In July 2020, Massachusetts state senators introduced Senate Bill 2815 (S. 2815). The bill is still with the state Senate. If passed, S. 2815 would eliminate the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims. Additionally, it would open a permanent revival window for expired childhood sex abuse claims in the state.

This permanent revival window is similar to legislation passed in Vermont.

Future Of Child Sex Abuse Legislation In The U.S.

Over the course of the past few years, numerous states have revised and expanded their statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse claims. As more examples of institutional sex abuse are discovered in schools, religious groups like the Catholic Church and youth organizations, more states are likely to continue this legislative trend.


If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault or a serious physical assault, you may have legal rights. Our team of attorneys is here to help you seek justice against predators and the organizations that cover up or ignore your abuse. Learn more about your legal options, the claims process and potential compensation.

Request a free, confidential abuse case evaluation by calling or sending a message through our secure contact form.

 

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