TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill into law Tuesday eliminating all time limits for filing criminal or civil action alleging sexual abuse of children.
It lifts statutes of limitations for pursuing criminal or civil sexual abuse cases in which victims are younger than 16 at the time of the abuse.
The civil portion was opposed by the Florida Catholic Conference, which contends it would create great uncertainty for any organization. The Roman Catholic Church has faced numerous lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests.
Florida previously had various time limits in place for pursuing criminal and civil actions, depending on the age of the child.
Other bills that Crist signed on Tuesday:
• Require middle school students to take a civics class and pass an end-of-course test to move on to high school. The bill is called the Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Civics Education Act after the retired U.S. Supreme Court justice.
• Increase the penalties against attackers who target the homeless. The bill adds homeless people to an existing hate crimes law that increases penalties for attacks motivated by a victim's race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, mental or physical disability or advanced age. The National Coalition for the Homeless in 2009 ranked Florida first in violence against the homeless for a fourth straight year.