OLYMPIA, Wash — Victims of sexual abuse no longer would have a statute of limitations to file a civil claim against their abuser under a House proposal.
House Bill 1618 would eliminate the current three-year statute of limitations on filing for civil damages related to childhood sexual abuse, nonsexual physical abuse committed concurrently with childhood sexual abuse, or sexual abuse that continues into adulthood if the sexual abuse is part of a pattern of childhood sexual abuse.
Courtney Butler testified in favor of the bill during a House committee.
”I'm begging you to please support this bill so that other victims can come forward and start the healing process that all of us deserve to have," said Butler.
She told them she was raped by her Blackhills Football Club coach in 2005 when Butler was 16.
Butler refused to tell anyone what had happened, instead turning to drugs and self-harm to cope with the trauma, she said.
But in 2015, when other former players sued the club on similar allegations, Butler decided to also file a lawsuit.
After Blackhills tried to claim the statute of limitations had expired, the organization settled with Butler for $7.5 million in 2022.
Butler says since a survivor's trauma never expires, neither should the ability to hold someone, or an organization, responsible.
”Thinking about it years later in that moment I thought for sure that was when I was going to die. And then I spent a decade afterwards wishing he had killed me," said Butler.
Butler said she never started healing until she sought justice.
”It’s made me realize that for all the years that I beat myself up for something I didn’t do to myself isn’t something I need to carry around with me anymore," said Butler.
The sponsor of the bill is hopeful it will be passed off the House floor soon.
This would not affect criminal charges related to child sex crimes, which already do not have a statute of limitations.
The bill would apply retroactively to all claims, regardless of when the claim or cause of action arose.
The retroactive clause generated concern from some critics during public hearings before House committees.