Ga. Statehouse Split Over Childhood Sexual Abuse Bill

Bills in Georgia’s House and Senate would extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits. However, there are differences in the bills that have spurred debates over which version should become law.

Ken Lund / Wikimedia Commons

Both the state House and state Senate are expected to vote Tuesday on versions of bills that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse to file lawsuits.

Currently, there are disagreements about which version should become law.

State Rep. Jason Spencer sponsored the original bill, “The Hidden Predator Act of 2018.” The bill, which passed the House 170-0 last month, raised the age for victims to be able to sue their alleged abusers from 23 to 38, but a state Senate committee lowered that age to 30.

The Senate’s version also got rid of a temporary one-year window to allow for victims of any age to sue.

“These survivors of child sexual abuse — nobody believed them, nobody wanted to listen to their story — and so the Senate version, unfortunately, somewhat is of an insult to these victims,” Spencer told WABE.

Spencer is continuing to push for his original measure that passed the House, which includes the one-year window. He’s worked to have language from the House bill inserted into another unrelated bill pending in the House, which means the House can vote on it again.

“While I appreciate the Senate’s hard work on this, this is still in process, and we will continue to work every avenue of the process to reassert the House’s position,” Spencer said.

Supporters of the changes to the bill in the Senate committee said the changes were necessary to balance the due process of both the accusers and the accused.