There are times when it might appear like our justice system is more geared toward the rights of the accused than the rights of the victim. Chalk up one major victory for victims in the state of Delaware.
Earlier this week, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner signed Senate Bill 29 into law. The bill gets rid of the state’s two-year statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse, and opens a two-year window for past victims to re-file claims for personal injury lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse. The law is considered one of the strongest in the nation in regards to protecting victims.
Score one for the good guys.
This is hugely significant. Many victims of child sexual abuse do not report their experiences right away — there is often a feeling of embarrassment, or shock that a respected adult would commit such a crime or just a sense of shame that the act was perpretrated upon them. It often takes a long time for someone who has experienced such a crime to summon the courage to come forward. And, sometimes, it takes a while for a victim to remember something they’ve tried so hard to forget in the first place.
This bill allows them that time.
This bill is significant — not necessarily in terms of an expected opening of the proverbial floodgates of victims coming forth, but, rather, that it could even help one victim of a disgusting and deplorable act. The success of SB 29 should not be judged by a rash of convictions, but more so as another door that is opened for these victims.
We certainly applaud the State House, Senate and governor for writing, passing and signing off on this law, but there are other victims’ rights organizations that helped make this a reality through their lobbying efforts. One of these organizations is the Voice of the Faithful — a group that was established to help the victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church, and to try to help the church move forward progressively. The Coastal Delmarva Chapter of Voice of the Faithful meets regularly at the South Coastal Library, and is open for the public to listen to what they have to say and to contribute their own thoughts.
This is a major step for protecting the rights of victims, and we are proud that Delaware is leading the way. In fact, the state has been looking at many ways of protecting the victims of child sexual abuse, and at prosecuting the offenders sharply. This is something in which we can all take pride.