DENVER (KDVR) — A new law passed by Colorado legislators gives victims of child sex abuse a window to hold organizations, public and private, accountable if they knew of risk for sexual misconduct.
A man who claimed he was the victim of sexual abuse from a priest when he was 16 is using this law to file a lawsuit against the priest and the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. His attorneys said they believe it is the first suit filed under the new law, that took effect at the beginning of 2022.
SB21-088 also increases the statute of limitations for victims taking civil action, allowing victims to sue for any sexual misconduct that happened on or after January 1, 1960. Victims now have a three-year window to bring a civil claim, meaning the deadline for starting the civil action is January 1, 2025.
The maximum amount a victim can recover in damages against a private entity would be $500,000 under the new law, with a chance for the court to bump that up to $1 million, if the court finds “clear and convincing evidence that the defendant failed to take remedial action against a person that the defendant knew or should have known posed a risk of sexual misconduct against a minor and the court finds that the application of the limitation would be unfair.”
If the civil action is taken against a public employee or entity, the amount owed is capped because of the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, and can range from $350,000 to more than $1 million in damages, based on the circumstances.