Delaware may extend statute of limitations for abuse

    The latest attempt to extend the time frame victims have to report abuse is a direct response to the case against a Lewes pediatrician accused of sexually abusing more than 100 young patients.

    The latest attempt to extend the time frame victims have to report abuse is a direct response to the case against a Lewes pediatrician accused of sexually abusing more than 100 young patients.

    Members of the State House approved HB 326 earlier this week in a 36 to 2 vote.  The measure would create a two year window for victims of child abuse at the hand of a health care provider to file civil lawsuits against the abuser.

    Bill sponsor House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf (D- Rehoboth) says the measure is very similar to the Child Victims Act, which was passed in 2007 to respond to cases of priest abuse that, in some cases, happened many decades ago.  “We thought at the time that [the Child Victims Act] covered all of Delaware’s children.”  But, after the accusations against Lewes pediatrician Earl Bradley, lawmakers learned that abuse by medical providers was not included in the Child Victims Act.

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    To fix the oversight in the 2007 act, Schwartzkopf says, “We’ve eliminated the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a child by a health care provider, and we’ve created a two year look back window exactly like we did with the Child Victims Act.”

    He says he’s hopeful that the bill will get quick approval in the state Senate.  “This bill is designed to help protect our children, protect the families that have been abused and to provide some comfort and some financial resources for counseling and things of that nature that they might need.”

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