Help for Child Sex Victims

By KBJR News 1

February 16, 2013 Updated Feb 16, 2013 at 8:11 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.COM) - A group of Minnesota lawmakers wants to make sure people who sexually abuse children are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

It's called the "Minnesota Child Victims Act" and it would give young victims more time to come to terms with what happened to them and gain the strength to take their offenders to court.

"Gradually, through therapy, I began to realize that this wasn't my fault. I was a kid," said David Samarzia.

When Samarzia was ten years old he was sexually abused by the pastor in his Duluth church. Like many children, he didn't tell anyone until many years later.

Jeff Anderson, a nationally known clergy sex abuse attorney in Minnesota, says that situation is all too common.

"The witnesses to the crimes often are children," Anderson said, "They suffer in silence. They suffer in secrecy and shame and they aren't able to report it."

It's because of that that Minnesota Senator Ron Latz has introduced the "Minnesota Child Victims Act". The law would make it easier for Minnesotans, who were sexually abused as children, to bring civil lawsuits against those who hurt them.

"It gives an opportunity for victims of child abuse, when they finally gather the knowledge and the fortitude to confront the issue head on, to hold those institutions accountable that allowed the abuse to happen," said Senator Latz.

The bill would also remove the current statute of limitation that requires victims to file suit within six years of becoming an adult. If the bill is passed into law, victims could file a lawsuit at any time no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.

This is concept that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has long supported.

"Anybody who commits that kind of terrible abuse of a boy or a girl should not be off the hook just because a certain amount of time has elapsed," said Dayton.

Holding abusers accountable could provide safety benefits for the entire public as well.

If a predator is convicted and required to register as a sex offender others would be alerted to his potential to re–offend including child welfare agencies.

We tracked the man who admitted to sexually abusing David Samarzia and found him living in Denver, where he had provided foster care for at least 15 young boys.

The bill has strong support among child abuse victim advocate organizations and law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Forty-one states recognize the unique nature of child sex abuse cases and have a separate statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits.

Four other states have eliminated the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse altogether.