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Law to Protect Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Hold Abusers Accountable Goes into Effect

FILE - This 2020, file photo, shows the exterior of the State Capitol in downtown Denver.
FILE - This 2020, file photo, shows the exterior of the State Capitol in downtown Denver.(David Zalubowski | AP)
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 9:06 AM MST
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DENVER, Colo. (PRESS RELEASE) - Marking the conclusion of a yearslong effort to protect survivors of child sexual abuse and hold institutions that cover up abuse accountable, the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act goes into effect tomorrow, January 1, 2022.

The law - sponsored by Senators Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge) and Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) and Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-Commerce City) and Matt Soper (R-Delta) - allows survivors of child sexual abuse to sue schools, government entities, or private institutions that cover up sexual abuse, as well as the perpetrators, and seeks to prevent future instances of sexual abuse. 

“No child should ever have to suffer sexual abuse, but for far too long our laws have failed to protect the youngest victims of these unspeakable crimes, and today we say no more,” said Sen. Danielson. “This law ensures that actions taken by abusers and institutions to harm our little ones can no longer be swept under the rug, and will hold those bad actors accountable for their vile behavior. I am proud to stand with survivors. I will keep fighting to make sure they finally get the justice they deserve, and can begin to heal.”

”It’s been a long road to get here, but now, survivors of childhood sexual assault can finally pursue justice,” said Rep. Jenet. “Getting this law passed would not have happened without the tireless advocacy and heartbreaking testimony of so many people who told their stories. This law will help hold abusers and the institutions that cover up their crimes accountable. Healing takes time, and now victims of abuse can seek justice that has long been denied.”

”We must protect survivors of sexual abuse at all costs, especially our children, but for decades our laws have benefited abusers over survivors,” said Sen. Fields. “We’re turning the tide on this egregious reality by ensuring that we provide adequate time for survivors to come forward and disclose their abuse. We recognize that the healing process is long and hard, and this historic law will make it easier to stop predators from causing further harm and empower survivors to seek out closure when they are ready.” 

The Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act allows survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil suits through an entirely new and freestanding cause of action, specifically tailored to address coverups that have persisted for decades. The law creates a new right of relief for any person sexually abused in Colorado, including those abused while participating in a youth program as a child. 

Delayed disclosure of child sexual abuse has impacted the path to healing for survivors and often, by the time victims are able to come forward about their experience, Colorado’s extraordinarily short window of opportunity to file civil legal claims has closed.

This has historically prevented hundreds of child sexual abuse victims from accessing the only option they have to seek monetary compensation for the pain they suffered – a necessary resource to rebuild their lives after experiencing such trauma. 

The Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act cleared the Senate and House by wide, bipartisan majorities, and Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law last July.

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