Child sex abuse survivors protest Texas bill that would change statute of limitations in cases

Survivors of child sexual abuse gathered on the Capitol grounds to protest proposed state legislation that would restrict the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse.

Dr. Anne Elrod Whitney was just 10-years-old when she became a victim of sexual abuse. It happened at a summer day camp she was attending in Texas for gymnastics.

Wednesday morning, she joined a group of other child sexual assault survivors to share their voices to seek justice. Justice that was not possible for them per the current state law.

"I really would have liked to stop [my predator] by making some noise, by getting representation, by pursuing him either criminally or civilly at some point between 1983 and 2023, but the laws in Texas and my own resources as a human being did not make that possible," said Dr. Whitney.

The survivors gathered at the south steps of the Capitol to protest House Bill 4601. It is a bill being considered in this year’s legislative session that would change the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases in Texas from 30 years to 15 years for institutional defendants and would require proof for non-perpetrator defendants.

"We need to stop silencing people, especially little children. When you're abused, you're silenced, you're shamed, you're you think it's your fault, and it's really not your fault. It’s the person inflicting the pain on you," said Jillian Edwards Coburn, survivor of child sexual abuse.

Instead, these survivors support HB 206 and SB 751.

"It is a statute of limitation reform that would eliminate the statute of limitations in the state of Texas, and it also has a provision that would make it retroactive. House Bill 206 gives older survivors access to civil justice," said Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a victims’ rights attorney and advocate for sexual abuse/assault survivors.

The survivors hope sharing their stories will lead to change this legislative session.

"If it doesn't pass this session, I will be back here standing with this entire team," said Coburn.