House committee kills bill removing statute of limitations in civil rape cases
A bill eliminating the statute of limitations in civil rape cases has been rejected by a legislative committee. Two years ago the legislature set an age limit of 40 for anyone bringing a sex abuse lawsuit against an institution. House Bill 1218 would have reversed that decision and removed all limitations involving civil rape cases. SDPB’s Jackelyn Severin has more.
Republican Representative Steve Hickey of Sioux Falls brought House Bill 1218. He says the 2010 decision to set the statute of limitations to age 40 did not receive a proper hearing. Hickey says many victims did not know of the proposal and didn’t get a chance to testify against it. Hickey says the present law denies access of the courts to victims all over the state.
"It is up to the courts to sort out the merits of individual cases not the legislature to determine which ones deserve their day in court and which ones do not," says Hickey, "It is not our place as legislators to play psychologist and determine what repressed memories are reliable and which aren’t. Setting any arbitrary statute of limitations deprives victims of due justice.
Opponents say eliminating the statute of limitations in civil rape cases will open the courts up to frivolous lawsuits.
The House Judiciary committee killed the bill by a vote of 9 to 4.
By Jackelyn Severin
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