Despite the publicity and several high-profile sexual abuse cases involving children the legislature was unable to get a bill eliminating the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases passed last year. A handful of lawmakers are hoping this year is different.
Rep. Beth Bye, a Democrat from West Hartford, said she’s been working to get legislation drafted and passed for her constituents, some of whom were victims of the late-Dr. George Reardon.
After 50,000 of Dr. Reardon’s slides were discovered in the wall of a West Hartford home in 2007, a number of Reardon’s victims have come forward, but not all of them have been able to file lawsuits in civil court against St. Francis Hospital and Reardon’s estate.
Thirteen of Dr. Reardon’s victims live in Bye’s district, but only seven of them have been able to file lawsuits, while six were prohibited based on the 30 year statute of limitations.
Many of Reardon’s victims had suppressed the memory until the cache of 50,000 slides and photos was found, Bye said. She said she continues to receive phone calls and emails from Reardon’s victims who encourage her to keep pursing the legislation on their behalf.
Last year there was a public hearing on the bill in the Judiciary Committee, but the bill died on the committee’s calendar.
“I hope that we can get through this legislation and bring some justice to these folks that we as a society have not been able to protect,” Sen. Mary Ann Handley, D-Manchester, said Friday.
This legislation is important because victims bury their memories of abuse, Bye said.
“It’s a very lonely kind of abuse,” Handley said. “It’s an abuse people try to forget, try to ignore.”
The Catholic Church and St. Francis Hospital opposed similar legislation last year.
Christopher Dadlez, president and CEO of St. Francis Hospital, said last March during the public hearing on a similar bill that the 30 year statute of limitations is sufficient and “a very significant period of time in which to bring a claim.” He suggested the state set up a special victims fund for those over the age of 48.
Handley said every victim should have their day in court.
This year’s legislation is still waiting to be drafted, but Bye said they’ve already been promised a public hearing once there is a bill.