Kansas legislature approves landmark reform to child sex abuse law

Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KCTV) - The Kansas legislature has overwhelmingly approved a landmark reform to childhood sex abuse law.

If signed by the governor, it’ll make it easier for child sex abuse victims to pursue criminal charges.

The way the law currently stands and depending on the classification of the crime, victims of child sex abuse usually have until about 18 or 21 years to bring forward a case. In some scenarios, the window for reporting is as narrow as five or 10 years.

The problem is, often these victims have what they call “delayed disclosure” for a variety of reasons. Research reveals the average age of disclosure for a victim of child sex abuse is 52-years-old.

In the bill that was approved, there is an unlimited statute of limitations on the criminal side. That means people can come forward at any time to file a lawsuit and prosecute a perpetrator.

Civil action can be taken up to 13 years after the survivor turns 18. That is a change from just three years, as it currently stands.

Senator Cindy Holscher has been advocating for this bill over the course of the last four years.

“Without this bill, we were protecting predators and that’s the wrong side to be on,” said Holscher. “This means more children will be protected, more predators will be behind bars and that’s a good thing.”

The bill passed unanimously through both the Kansas senate and house this past week. Now, it sits on Governor Laura Kelly’s desk.

This has all come after intensive lobbying by survivors at the statehouse.

Aubrey Booser has been one of them. She’s courageously shared her story about being molested when she was 4 years old. When she turned 15, she tried to report it. However, she was told there was nothing that could be done because of the statute of limitations.

“This has been and will be one of the most meaningful things I have ever done in my whole life,” Booser said. “This bill is huge. As soon as Gov. Kelly signs this bill and it goes into effect, another little girl or boy, man or woman, will not have to hear ‘there’s nothing we can do’ in a detective’s office.”