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State bill looks to expand statue of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) - A bill making its way through the North Carolina General Assembly aims to expand the statue of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse.

House Bill 585 has already passed through the House with a vote of 112 to 3. It now moves on to the Senate for a vote there.

Under current North Carolina law, child victims of sexual abuse have until they turn 21-years-old to file a civil case. HB585 would give children victims until they turned 40-years-old to file a civil suit.

"That's so people have the opportunity to work through any problems they might have with emotional issues because of the sexual assault," said Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfiled (D-Dist. 24).

Rep. Farmer-Butterfield is one of the sponsors of HB585. 

"If it occurred, it shouldn't have occurred," she said. "Either way people should have an extended period of time to address it."

An estimated 2 out of 3 sexual assaults in the United States go unreported. It's why some feel it's so important to give children victims more time to determine how to handle the incident.

"The vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by either an intimate partner or an acquaintance," said Sgt. John Guard with the Pitt County Sheriff's Major Crimes Division.

Statistics show 25% of girls and 16% of boys are sexually assaulted before they turn 18-years-old.

Children advocacy groups in the state have already planned a lobbying day on May 23 at the Legislative Building to encourage the Senate to vote yes for the bill.

Deborah Diener with the group Children Matter released a statement saying, "Other states have found that unknown child predators and inadequate organizational policies were exposed making children safer when they enacted similar laws. And since experts have found that one perpetrator in their lifetime will abuse an average of 175 children, it is imperative for the safety of North Carolina’s children that HB585 becomes law."

To read the full bill, click here.

To find out about the lobbying day for the bill, click here.


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