Back in July of 2021, Colorado’s Governor signed SB 88 into law. Also known as the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act, this new bill is a game-changer for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Under SB88, child sexual abuse survivors now have a new window under which to bring charges of child sexual abuse against a person. With this new law taking effect on the first day of 2022, there’s a lot to understand about it.
Here’s what you need to know about the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act, including what it means and what actions can now be taken for those who have survived sexual abuse as a child.
New Legal Options Under the Law
Thanks to this new legislation, many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse will have legal options to explore. This law now provides a “look back” window of three years, from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2024, for abuse that was perpetrated on or after January 1, 1960.
Any person who sexually assaulted a child while they participated or were enrolled in a public or private youth program, such as the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church, can now bring a lawsuit against the institution. This is to help rectify how some of these institutions may have worked to cover up the abuse or the individual who perpetrated it.
These lawsuits can be filed for misconduct that occurred in the past, even if the previous statute of limitations expired. One of the highlights of this bill: It now eliminates the statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit for a future case of child sexual abuse or cases that recently occurred, even if its original statute of limitations has not expired.
Institutions outside of the purview of the state that provide and manage youth programs may now be required to pay damages to those who were abused. Public government institutions that covered up any type of child sexual abuse will have damages capped at $387,000. However, private institutions will not have damages capped until they reach $1 million in each case.
It also gives survivors an avenue to have their abuse put on the record in an effort to help stop further abuse from taking place.
What Is Child Sexual Abuse in Colorado?
Under Colorado law, sexual assault on a child – also called “sexual contact with a child under age 15” – can be perpetrated when a 15-or-under child is fondled or the perpetrator provokes the child to fondle them. The perpetrator must be a minimum of four years older than the child.
Under the law, touching of the child’s intimate parts, such as their buttocks, breasts, or genitalia (either covered or uncovered) for the purpose of abuse, sexual arousal, or gratification is considered sexual abuse.
This can also be perpetrated by someone who is in a position of trust, such as a teacher, leader, or clergy member. This crime is actually more serious on a legal level than sexual assault on a child since it involves someone who occupies a position of trust. In these cases, the victim only needs to be under age 18 at the time the crime took place, and the perpetrator must be responsible for their education, welfare, supervision, or health in some way.
While Colorado’s new law doesn’t cover criminal charges, it is a way for those who have survived child sexual abuse to get some justice.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.