Missouri law currently allows childhood victims of sexual abuse to sue their abusers until they are 26 or 31 years old, depending on the defendant.
A state House committee is reviewing a proposal that would allow survivors, including with people with disabilities, to file a civil lawsuit until they are age 55.
Elizabeth Phillips, said her brother, Trey Carloch, was “silenced to his grave” by Camp Kanakuk in Branson. She said her brother was abused Pete Newman, who is in prison.
“It’s time to stop the clock for child abuse survivors,” said Phillips. “Don’t rush them into civil litigation like my brother. A short statute of limitations can be lethal, as my family knows and another form of rape.”
She said her brother killed himself at the age of 29.
A statement from Camp Kanakuk said it was devastated by the “deceptive practices” of one of its staff members who was convicted of abusing Kampers.
“We were devastated by the deceptive practices of this individual and continue to grieve with victims and their families. We’ve said it before, and we will say it again, we are forever sorry for the pain inflicted on victims and their families.”
Jody Jones said she was abused at the age of 8 by Chuck Price, a Camp Kanakuk counselor in Branson.
“I’m now a 45-year-old woman with what I consider to be great strength,” said Jones. “It takes a lot of courage to get up here today and say this. At eight or 13, or those younger years when I was trying to tell what happened to me, I didn’t have the strength. I didn’t have the courage. I didn’t have the words or the support. Today I do. Is 55 a reasonable timeframe to push that back? Yeah, I think so. If you’re an insurance company worried about losing money, maybe not. But it’s not about them. It’s about the kids. Give us time to speak.”
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association said the bill is unconstitutional and 55 years old is “way too long.”
State Representative Brian Seitz, R-Branson, is sponsoring the bill. He said he wants these victims receive justice.
“Through no fault of their own, children and the medically disabled who may have been abused in the past are being victimized again by not being allowed to hold the perpetrators to account,” he said.
The committee has not yet voted on House Bill 367.
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