AZ Legislator and Activists Speak on Behalf of SOL Reform in the State Capital
For immediate release, May 14, 2019
Changes are needed because survivors of child sex abuse can take decades to come forward
The statutory amendments proposed would allow more victims an opportunity to have their claims heard in court
Revealing these 'hidden predators' and their enablers helps to protect boys and girls today
Senator who sponsored the bill has delayed state budget approval until his measure is heard
At a news conference, a legislator and child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors will advocate for the reform of state laws limiting the ability of victims to have their day in court.
Wednesday, May 15th,
The Rose Garden of the Arizona State Capitol,
1700 W Washington St, Phoenix
Located near Representatives Members’ parking lot just south of Adams St.
Arizona State Senators Paul Boyer and Victoria Steele, Jason Vail Cruz from the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence and 4 members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a Tucson man who is the President of the nonprofit's Board of Directors, as well as a Phoenix woman who is a SNAP local leader.
A bill in the State Legislature to reform the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, SB 1255, has stalled in the Judiciary Committee, and the bill's proponent, Senator Paul Boyer, is withholding his approval of the state budget until his proposal is heard.
According to CHILDUSA.org, only 1/3 of victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) disclose in childhood, and 1/3 never disclose. The average age for a victim of CSA to come forward is 52. Most survivors are silenced by feelings of shame, as well as the fear that they will be disbelieved if they do speak up. Many do not even realize until years later that what happened to them was a crime.
Arizona law presently gives CSA victims only until age 20 to file a lawsuit. As a result, abusers and those who enable them can escape justice, and more children are endangered. Senate Bill 1255 would give survivors seven years after they realize they were assaulted to sue their perpetrators, as well as anyone who helped to hide the abuse. Allowing victims more time to come forward and seek justice will help to expose ‘hidden predators,' which will make Arizona communities safer.
Since 2002, when the Boston Globe SPOTLIGHT team revealed the recycling of known abusers and the cover up of child sex crimes by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, at least 38 states have amended their statutes of limitations. SOL reform was signed into law in New York in February, and in New Jersey just this week.
SB 1255 would bring much-needed reform to Arizona, and the measure deserves both to be heard as well as broad bi-partisan support. No boy or girl should be put at risk from known abusers. As victim stories are told and heard across the state, lawmakers should work to deliver justice to those who have been silenced for far too long. When SOL laws are amended, children and communities are safer, and institutions that have hidden or recycled known perpetrators have a strong incentive to change their behavior.
The consideration – and passage – of Senate Bill 1255 will encourage all victims of sexual violence, no matter their age or where their abuse occurred, to come forward, make a report to law enforcement, and investigate new legal options.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Tim Lennon, SNAP President (tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org, 415-312-5820), Mary O’Day, Volunteer SNAP Phoenix Leader (SNAPofArizona@gmail.com, 602-677-2188), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director, (zhiner@SNAPnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)