In the state of Colorado, a bill has been passed called the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act, which allows for a civil cause of action to be implemented for sexual misconduct against a minor and resulting in appropriation being made or created. A victim is now able to bring a claim against an organization if the organization was aware of or should have been aware of a risk of sexual misconduct against minors participating in the program and the organization did not take any action to address the risks or warn participants of the risk. The victim may bring a claim against a public employee or public entity that operates the program, including educational entities. The cause of action is available to a victim of sexual misconduct that occurred before, on, or after January 1, 2022.
Child victims of rape and other sexual misconduct are one step closer to accessing the justice system, as the Colorado Senate approved Senate Bill 88, which allows survivors and victims to go forward with their claims regardless of when their abuse took place. These victims are able to hold their abusers accountable, along with the institutions that covered up the abuse. Public and private institutions are now treated equally and can be held accountable in the same manner, as they should be.
Under SB-88, an individual who was sexually assaulted as a child while enrolled or participating in a public or private youth program, such as those run by the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, or Colorado Division of Youth Services, would be able to bring a legal claim against a perpetrator and the institution. A suit can be filed over misconduct that occurred at any time in the past, even if the statute of limitations expired already. The focus of this bill is to eliminate the statute of limitations for any future cases of child sexual misconduct or recent cases where the statute of limitations has not expired yet.
Institutions outside of our government that manage and provide youth programs, such as the Boy Scouts of America or the Catholic Church, may end up paying unlimited damages to individuals who were abused. Colorado is the first state to develop a new pathway for survivors and victims to file a suit over actions of the past. This new legal path allows survivors to present their stories by going on record to try and prevent sexual abuse from occurring in communities throughout the state of Colorado.