The Iowa Senate voted Tuesday night to extend the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse.
The Senate amended House File 2284, a bill dealing with judgments on claims for rent, to include provisions authored by Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines. She said the bill doubles and sometimes quadruples the statute of limitations for landlords to go after renters, but she was also concerned about victims of child sexual abuse.
“We have seen case after case in the news about child sexual abusers who have preyed on multiple children,” Petersen said.
She specifically referenced a case involving Penn State University in which 10 boys were sexually abused over at least a 15-year period and another case in which a physician for the U.S. Olympics gymnastic team has had at least 265 victims identified.
One provision of the amended legislation, which returns to the House for consideration, would extend the statute of limitations for damages suffered as a result of sexual abuse suffered when the victim was a child but was not discovered until after the victim turned 18. The provision extends the statute of limitations from four years after discovery to 25 years after discovery if the discovery was after the age of 18.
In addition, the time to file an action for damages suffered as a result of the sexual abuse when the victim was a child would be extended to 25 years after the victim turns 18, regardless of when the injury was discovered.
The amendment also extends the statute of limitations for damages suffered as a result of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee from five years after the victim was last treated by the counselor or therapist to 10 years and from five to 10 years after the victim was last enrolled in or attended school.
However, if the victim was a minor when the abuse or exploitation occurred, the statute of limitations for bringing an action for damages would be 25 years after the victim turns 18 or 25 years after the discovery of the injury and related damages if the discovery was after age 18.
Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center, who was the bill’s floor manager, thanked Petersen for offering the amendment.
“I agree. I think there is common ground here and I am going to urge my colleagues to support this amendment,” Edler said.
The amendment was approved on a voice vote and the bill passed 49-0.