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Wyoming Senate kills bill proposing increases to statute of limitations for abuse victims

Tara Nethercott, R-Laramie, talks with Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Senate killed a bill during its floor session on Friday, Feb. 14 that would have changed the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, allowing victims to have more time to come forward. 

SF 12 would have amended the statute of limitations for people to report childhood sexual abuse. Instead of the statute ending eight years after the victim’s 18th birthday, the amendment would allow victims to report up to 35 years after their 18th birthday. 

Laramie County Sen. Tara Nethercott introduced the bill on the Senate floor, telling the 29 senators that the topic of child sexual abuse and civil action against their perpetrators came up during the interim last year.

“Generally, we have a statute of limitations to provide finality to conflicts and causes of action,” Nethercott told the senators on Friday morning. “It allows people to move on, both emotionally and financially.”

She explained that due to the unique circumstances of child sexual abuse – meaning that the victims are sometimes too young to understand what happened to them until much later – the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee thought it would be best to extend the statute by more than 30 years.

“While I know some people wonder about waiting this long period of time and that the evidence might be stale, but that is on the province of the jury,” the Laramie County senator added before the vote took place.

The majority of the Senate didn’t agree with changing the law, though, with 19 voting no and only 11 voting to send the bill to a committee. The 19 no votes included ones from Natrona county Sens. Charles Scott, Drew Perkins and Bill Landen, while Nethercott and Natrona County Sen.  Jim Anderson voted to send the bill to a committee.

This act would have gone into effect immediately if signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon.