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Bill in Arkansas gives victims of child sexual abuse more time to file civil lawsuits

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas lawmakers are reminding you of a new law passed last session, in light of the child sexual abuse case you saw on KARK/FOX16 just last week.

Senate Bill 676 was signed into law last session in 2021 and changes the statute of limitations to give victims of child sexual abuse more time to file civil lawsuits.

Last week we reported that Barry Walker pleaded guilty to raping more than 30 children in Pike and Clark counties. After the hearings concluded, Clark County District Attorney Dan Turner emphasized the importance of every sexual assault victim seeking justice.

“I hope one thing that comes out of this is that victims tell their stories,” Turner said.

One lawmaker is reminding Arkansans of a new law that gives Arkansans more flexibility to do just that.

State Senator Trent Garner (R- District 27) co-sponsored Senate Bill 676 in 2021 – which was bipartisan legislation. It is now called the Justice for Vulnerable Victims Act.

“This was a mistake that could be righted through our civil system and give people a chance to have their day in court and get compensation for such a terrible act done against them,” Garner said.

Until this law was signed, the statute of limitations for minors to report sexual abuse and obtain compensation in civil court ended at 21 years of age. The new law changes that age to 55 years.

“I think it’s a bipartisan issue that child abusers, child abusers deserve to be brought to justice,” Garner said.

Garner said the bill also gives victims two years right now if they’re over that age of 55 to file a civil lawsuit now because the bill was just passed last year.

To see the full text of the law, click here.

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