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Michael Gottlieb looks to expand statute of limitations for civil sex offenses against minors

“We’re living in a time now where we have a lot of these valid #MeToo claims.”

State Rep. Michael Gottlieb wants Florida to follow in the footsteps of New York, giving child victims of sexual offenses decades to file a claim in civil court.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed the Child Victims Act into law. The measure lets child victims file a civil claim up until they are 55 years of age.

Gottlieb’s bill (HB 53) would do the same. For victims younger than 18 at the time of the incident, a civil suit “may be commenced on or before the victim reaches the age of 55,” according to the bill’s language.

“We’re living in a time now where we have a lot of these valid #MeToo claims,” Gottlieb said of his motivation for filing the bill. “For years, I’m not just going to say women — people, women, whomever — didn’t have the opportunity in civil court to get compensation and to have their voice heard.”

Gottlieb is looking to change that going forward. But there is at least on major difference between Gottlieb’s bill and the New York version.

After the New York measure was signed, the state opened a one-year window where past victims of sexual offenses could file a claim, even if the incident was decades old. That window began in mid-August.

That prompted a barrage of suits against organizations such as the Archdiocese of New York and the Boy Scouts, as well as at least one lawsuit against the estate of the now-deceased Jeffrey Epstein.

Gottlieb’s measure has no such language pertaining to prior incidents. The law would go into effect on July 1, 2020. The extension of the statute of limitations “applies to any such action other than one which would have been time barred on or before July 1, 2020.”

But Gottlieb said that could change as lawmakers discuss the legislation in committee. “This is the first draft, so who knows where it goes,” Gottlieb said.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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