PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine has lifted a barrier civil lawsuits by people who were sexually abused when they were children.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed into law that eliminates that made a previous bill eliminating the statute of limitations retroactively, meaning victims can now bring lawsuits based on older cases.

“Every year, I turn away dozens of survivors whose claims had expired because of the statute of limitations,” attorney Michael Bigos, who specializes in litigation related to child sexual abuse, told the Portland Press Herald. “Now, those survivors can come forward."

In 2000, Maine eliminated the statute of limitations for those lawsuits, but the policy was not retroactive, so victims whose claims had expired still could not bring them forward.

Previously, survivors who experienced abuse before 1987 generally would not be able to file lawsuits.

Rep. Lori Gramlich, a social worker and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, sponsored the legislation. She said that she saw this bill as an opportunity to give others a chance to be heard.

“For me, it’s not about suing somebody for big bunches of money,” said Gramlich, a Democrat from Old Orchard Beach, said. “It’s about having an opportunity to have justice.”

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