Arizona Bill Would Remove Legal Protections For Child Sex Abusers
A bill approved by Arizona Senate committee would remove the statute of limitations on bringing a civil lawsuit against an organization that covered up the sexual abuse of a child.
Under current Arizona law, a victim has two years to name an organization liable for financial damages. Forty-one states have longer statutes of limitations than Arizona Rep. Paul Boyer, the sponsor of House Bill 2157, said he proposed the bill so there would be no statute of limitations on criminal or civil charges.
However, some members of the Senate Judiciary committee, who debated the bill Thursday, worried it would negatively impact organizations like the Boy Scouts or The Catholic Church.
“Moving from two years to everything retroactive, and there’s no limit after, is putting good organizations that may not have had good procedures in place in the past, putting them at tremendous financial risk,” said state Senator Bob Worsley.
In response Boyer said an organization should have to answer for its past failures and victims deserve financial compensation if an organization protected abusers.
A number of survivors of sexual abuse spoke in favor of the bill, including Annette Schuster, who now works with churches to prevent abuse.
“You really cannot put a time limit on how long it’s going to take a victim to be in the emotional place to be able to handle the legal aspect,” Schuster said.
The bill barely passed committee, four in favor and three against. All members agreed that two years wasn't enough time, but those voting against the bill expressed concerns that the bill was introduced at the last minute and didn't include stakeholder meetings.