Bill would give survivors of sexual assault time to heal without losing their right to hold perpetrators accountable

DENVER, CO — The House today gave preliminary approval to Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet’s bipartisan bill to remove the statute of limitations for civil claims of sexual misconduct.

“The effects of trauma have no expiration date, and neither should the timeline for holding a perpetrator of sexual violence accountable,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “This legislation will allow survivors to take time to heal without losing the opportunity to seek justice through the courts. I want to ensure that our justice system protects the rights of survivors, and this bill will move us closer to that goal.”

HB20-1296 removes the statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct, which is defined in the bill to include all current criminal sexual offenses including offenses against a child, and other criminal behavior of a sexual nature including requests for sexual favors accompanied by coercion, threat, or violence. The bill also allows claims arising from circumstances related to sexual misconduct to be brought against a person or entity that is not the perpetrator of the sexual misconduct. 

This bill would become effective for claims arising on or after January 1, 2021 but allows for those victims for whom the current statute of limitations has not yet run to bring a claim based on the provisions of  this law. The Colorado constitution has been interpreted to guarantee vested rights in relation to statutes of limitations but  not to allow the legislature to make retroactive changes to these limitations.