MADISON (WKOW) — A group of state legislators announced today that they are reintroducing two bills that would make it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to seek recourse as adults.
Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) and Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) introduced two critical bills to help end the abuse of children known and perpetuated by clergy, while affording adult victims of childhood sexual abuse a long awaited chance at justice.
The group presented the bills at a Wednesday morning news conference at the state Capitol.
The Child Victims Act abolishes the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases, allowing victims to pursue civil action against their perpetrator after the age of 35 and allows any victim previously silenced to bring forward civil action within 3 years of the passage of this bill.
The Clergy Mandatory Reporter Act requires that clergy report instances of child abuse, including sexual abuse, and ends a loophole allowing child sexual abuse by clergy to remain secret and unreported.
“Every 9 minutes, Child Protective Services agencies substantiate or find strong evidence indicating a child has been the victim of sexual abuse,” said Rep. Taylor in a news release. “The abuse of children, including sexual abuse, is happening in communities and in congregations around the globe.”
Two women, Debbie McNulty and Rebecca Martin Byrd, spoke at the news conference in support of the bills.
They say they were sexually assaulted as children at a Madison church.
McNulty says she was sexually abused beginning at age 11 by an adult from church whom she trusted.
She said she eventually gained the courage to tell her pastor, but she says he did nothing. She says the abuse was never reported to police.
McNulty said she began telling her story years later as an adult beginning in 2017 and says she heard from other survivors from her congregation.