A proposed piece of legislation would lengthen Wyoming's statute of limitations for lawsuits based upon child sexual assault, giving survivors decades longer to sue their abusers.

"I think the motivation is pretty straightforward. We've expanded our understanding of how childhood sexual assault manifests, and we know that folks who are harmed as children often don't disclose that harm until much later in life," Rep. Sara Burlingame (D-Laramie County) told K2 Radio News in a phone interview Tuesday.

"So rather than having a system that serves the perpetrators, who are perhaps counting on that, the Wyoming Legislature has decided that perhaps our statutes should reflect more care for the victim," Burlingame added.

Senate File 12 would extend the statute of limitations from eight years after the minor turns 18 to 35 years after the minor's 18th birthday, allowing decades longer for the filing of civil actions stemming from the abuse.

The act would apply retroactively, meaning any child sex assault survivor under the age of 53 when the bill would be enacted would be able to sue their abuser.

Burlingame anticipates wide, bipartisan support for the measure.

"It's an issue that needs tackling," she said. "It involves some of the most heinous crimes against our most innocent citizens -- our children."

The bill is sponsored by the Judiciary committee.

The 2020 budget session is set to begin Feb. 10.

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