On Friday, the Connecticut State Senate passed Senate Bill 3, “An Act Combating Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.”
Also referred to as the “Time’s Up” bill, this legislation increases certain sexual harassment penalties, extends the time limits people have to file lawsuits for sexual assault, allows more time for criminal prosecution of sexual assault, and requires more employer-sponsored sexual harassment training.
The bill passed the Senate on a unanimous and bipartisan 35-0 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“Today we’ve taken an important step toward achieving a more safe and equitable state,” said State Senator Alex Bergstein (D-Greenwich). “This bill recognizes that victims of sexual assault have many reasons for not coming forward right away – including shame, trauma and fear. I’m proud to be part of this effort to achieve justice for victims of sexual assault and to prevent these crimes altogether.”
Statutes of Limitations for Criminal Cases of Sexual Assault
Compared to other states and the District of Columbia, Connecticut’s statute of limitations for rape of an adult — five years — is one of the shortest in the country. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have no statute of limitations for rape or a limit longer than Connecticut’s.
Senate Bill 3 would extend the existing statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes from five years to 20 years for Class B, C, and D felony sexual assault (e.g., forced rape, rape by drugs, forced sexual contact). For a non-felony (e.g. unwanted sexual contact, and other class A misdemeanors), the statute of limitations would extend from one year to 10 years. In each of these cases, if the victim is 18, 19, or 20, the statute of limitations is 30 years following the victim’s 21st birthday, effectively the victim’s 51st birthday.
Statutes of Limitations for Civil Cases of Sexual Assault
In addition, Senate Bill 3 makes changes to the statute of limitations for civil cases of sexual assault. Currently the statute of limitations for a victim under 18 is the victim’s 48th birthday. Under the bill, the statute of limitations for a victim under 21 is the victim’s 51st birthday. This is a significant change for those victims aged 18, 19, and 20 who currently must bring claims within the default statute of limitations for torts, which is 3 years.
Workplace Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
Currently, employers with only 50 or more employees are required to provide at least two hours of training on sexual harassment to supervisory employees within six months of their employment. Senate Bill 3 requires employers with three or more employees to provide training to all employees, not just supervisors. The bill requires the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to make training materials available online. Employers may then use these resources to comply with the training requirement.