Child abuse survivors recount experiences in push to change Kansas statute of limitations

Survivors shared their voices today as Kansas legislators consider change in the state’s prosecution of child sex abuse.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 4:08 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - “Unfortunately no one ever told me there was a timeclock on seeking justice for my abuse. My abuser was never arrested for what he did to me. I assumed this meant that no one believed me or that I simply did not matter,” says sexual abuse survivor, Kim Bergman.

Survivors shared their voices Thursday at a press conference as Kansas legislators consider change in the state’s prosecution of child sex abuse.

The conference comes days after a KBI investigation into clergy abuse claims identified nearly 200 clergy members suspected of child sex crimes, and forwarded 30 cases to local prosecutors. So far, none have seen charges. The most common reason being that the statute of limitations has expired.

Sen. Cindy Holscher and Rep. Mark Schreiber said lawmakers are looking into extending Kansas’ statute of limitations on child sex abuse as they introduced four survivors.

Each of them shared their experiences and the conclusion that the current timetable is unreasonable.

“It’s allowing predators to continue walking the streets because they made by a random date without anyone telling on them. In Kansas survivors of child sexual abuse are limited to the amount of time they have to hold these predators accountable. In fact, survivors currently only have three years after they turn 18 to bring a civil claim against their abuser. That means that a survivor has to accept what’s happened to them, be comfortable talking about it publicly, and have the means to file a lawsuit before they are 21,” says Tess Ramirez.

“With passage of this bill, it will give other survivors time to hold their abusers accountable,” Lisa Patterson said.

“Sexual abuse survivors deserve justice. Hear the SOL bill, hear us!,” says Joe Cheray.

Senator Holscher plans to introduce bills for both civil and criminal claims. Similar measures have stalled in past sessions, but they hope the KBI reports create new support.