In 2019 and 2020, the Maryland House of Delegates stood up for children and survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) by overwhelmingly passing The Hidden Predator Act of 2020. The Hidden Predator Act was developed to remove the civil statute of limitations on CSA and provide a lookback window of two years; a period in which those harmed by CSA can pursue civil lawsuits for abuse that previously fell outside the statute of limitations.
The importance of this legislation cannot be overstated, as the bill clearly signals that individuals and institutions can be held financially accountable, in perpetuity, for abuse they committed or facilitated. This opportunity for justice is also one for abuse prevention, and states that have implemented lookback windows and statute of limitation reform have been able to bring abusers to light who could otherwise continue to harm children undetected. For example, under California’s 1-year lookback window, 300 abusers were identified.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and the early closure of the Maryland General Assembly meant that in 2020, the Hidden Predator Act could not move forward in the Maryland Senate. As the 2021 Legislative Session begins this week, the coalition of advocates, prevention experts, survivors, and community members who have been advancing this effort for over a decade, are galvanized by the support received last year, and determined to succeed in what will still be an unconventional legislative session heavily shaped by the ongoing global pandemic.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, this year we are entering the session with more momentum than ever, with bill sponsors in the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House and a broad array of supporting organizations from across the state, some of whom are joining the effort for the first time this year. The growing number of elected officials who understand the importance of this legislation and share their desire to stand with survivors is significant.
With this legislation, we are on the precipice of a monumental shift in how Maryland can prevent Childhood Sexual Abuse, hold perpetrators accountable, and facilitate the healing of those who have been abused. The passing of the bill would be the culmination of years of effort on the part on hundreds of individuals determined to make our children and our communities healthier.
As a friend and supporter of No More Stolen Childhoods, you can support the successful passage of the 2021 Hidden Predator Act. For more information on how to get involved visit our grassroots partners in this effort at www.Justice4MDsurvivors.org.