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Saturday, November 9, 2019

Rep. McEntee honored with Spotlight Award by Day One

SK rep fought for rights of victims of child sexual abuse

From the left: Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, Executive Director of Day One Peg Langhammer, and Dr. Ann Hagan Webb at the Dine for Day One event held at the Hasbro headquarters in Pawtucket.

Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) was honored by Day One with the organization’s Spotlight Award at the third annual Dine for Day One event held on October 24 at the Hasbro headquarters in Pawtucket.  

Representative McEntee, along with her sister, Dr. Ann Hagan Webb, were honored due to their sponsorship and advocacy for a new law that extends the civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims.

“Annie and I were truly honored to be recognized by Day One, an organization that does so much to fight against abuse and help all those who are affected by physical, mental, and sexual abuse.  It has been a long road to seeing ‘Annie’s Bill’ become law and it would not have been possible without the aid of Day One and others who are equally committed to ending childhood sexual abuse.  We thank Day One and all the other advocates who saw the need for this legislation to be passed into law and especially for all the support they offered over the past two legislative sessions,” said Representative McEntee.

Representative McEntee introduced the bill due to her own personal family connection to childhood sexual abuse.  Last session and this session, Representative McEntee has accompanied her older sister, Dr. Ann Hagan Webb, to testify in favor of the legislation.  Representative McEntee has referred to the legislation as “Annie’s Bill” due to her sister’s advocacy for the bill.

Dr. Webb recounted her own experiences being a young survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of the family parish priest.  

Representative McEntee’s sister, now a psychologist specializing in counseling adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, detailed how often it takes years, if not decades, for victims of childhood sexual assault to not only come to terms with their abuse, but also to find the strength to come forward, to name their abuser, and seek justice for the crimes perpetrated against their innocence and youth.

The legislation, sponsored by Representative McEntee, extends the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse from seven years to 35 years. 

The legislation also extends to 35 years the statute of limitations for entities, individuals or organizations which caused or contributed to childhood sexual abuse through negligent supervision, conduct, concealment or other factors that enabled the abuse to occur.  The State of Rhode Island and its municipalities are also included under this provision of the legislation.

The 35 year statute begins at the age of 18 for the victims.

The bill also includes a “seven year discovery rule” which enables victims of sex abuse to file suit against perpetrators and non-perpetrators up to seven years from the time a victim discovered or remembered abuse had taken place, such as through therapy as an adult.

Day One is a Rhode Island organization that is specifically organized to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern. They provide treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services to Rhode Islanders of all ages—from preschool children to elder adults. 

Additionally, they advocate for public policy initiatives and systemic changes that positively impact how Rhode Island families handle sexual abuse cases.