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Molesting Victims Could Get Extra Three Years to Sue

Senate bill would temporariliy reopen statute of limitations window

(INDIANAPOLIS) - There could be a temporary change in the time limit for suing sexual abusers.

Indiana has a seven-year statute of limitations for lawsuits over child molesting. That's already five years longer than the deadline for other lawsuits. But Indianapolis Senators Aaron Freeman and Jim Merritt argue it's still not long enough to account for how long an underage victim often needs to fully understand what happened. Their bill would create a fresh three-year window starting in July to sue for victims whose statute of limitations has already expired.

Indy's status as an amateur sports capital could make the change especially significant. Indianapolis-headquartered USA Gymnastics is still reeling from hundreds of abuse allegations against a doctor who worked with the organization. And Colorado-based USA Swimming faces one lawsuit from an Olympian who charges she was abused by her coach. Former Olympic swimming hopeful Jancy Thompson, who settled out of court with a second coach, charges one sexual incident happened in Indianapolis during Olympic swim trials.

Thompson says the abuse began when she was 15. She now works as a victim's advocate, and joined Freeman and Merritt at a statehouse news conference.

A Senate committee will consider the bill on Wednesday. A separate bill lifting Indiana's cap on punitive damages in cases of criminal sexual misconduct is awaiting a final vote in the Senate.

Jancy Thompson (Photo: Eric Berman)

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