Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie just signed a law that extends Hawaii’s two-year civil window for sex abuse victims.
But there’s more: victims in public schools are NOW eligible for accountability under the new law. For the first time, sex offenders in public schools and the people who covered up for them—including powerful unions and other gov’t officials—are liable for the crimes of predatory gov’t employees.
Thank you Senator Maile Shimabukuro for your tireless work on behalf of victims.
From the Honolulu Star Advertiser:
New law adds time to file abuse suits
By Derrick DePledge
Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Friday signed a bill into law that will extend a window for another two years to file lawsuits over decades-old childhood sexual abuse and allow suits to be brought against the state and counties.
Dozens of child sex abuse lawsuits have been filed in Hawaii against the clergy, churches and others over the past two years after the state temporarily lifted the statute of limitations to bring claims. The new law extends the window until April 2016 and adds the state and counties as potential defendants.
Victims must prove gross negligence on the part of private organizations or the state — a legal standard meant to discourage frivolous accusations.
The Roman Catholic Church and others have opposed lifting the statute of limitations on lawsuits, arguing that it is difficult to defend against abuse claims that could be decades old. But the church had urged that the state and counties be covered by the law if it were extended, contending it was unfair to hold only private organizations financially accountable for abuse.
Abercrombie vetoed a similar bill in 2011, citing concerns about due process rights and the unknown financial liability to the state.
“I think the issue trumps the state’s interest as expressed then,” the governor said Friday. “I think you have to put the human condition first.”
Abercrombie also signed a bill into law Friday that lifts the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of first- and second-degree sexual assault and for the continuous sexual assault of a minor under age 14. Murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and murder-for-hire had been the only other crimes under state law with no statute of limitations.
“People can tell their story, and they don’t have to do it within a certain amount of time,” said state Rep. Mele Carroll (D, Lanai-Molokai-Paia-Hana), chairwoman of the House Human Services Committee, who had worked on both sex abuse bills.
Abercrombie signed several other criminal justice bills into law Friday, part of a flurry of bill signings this week. The governor has a Monday deadline to inform the Legislature of bills on his potential veto list. All bills awaiting action that are not on the list automatically become law.
The signings Friday included a law that clarifies that police officers cannot legally have sex with prostitutes as part of sting operations, a law that criminalizes so-called “revenge porn” as a privacy violation and a law that sets a mandatory minimum of one year in prison for habitual property crime.
New laws would also establish a fund for victims of human trafficking, financed by fees on people convicted of labor trafficking and prostitution crimes, and a fund to fight Internet crimes against children, financed by fees on people convicted of child abuse and enticement offenses.
The law on Internet crimes against children is known nationally as “Alicia’s Law,” named for Alicia Kozakiewicz, a Pittsburgh girl who was 13 when she was abducted and assaulted in 2002 by a man she met in an Internet chat room.