This week the "Hidden Predator Act of 2018" (HB 605) will get a second hearing and possible vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. For this bill to protect Georgia's children from sexual predators and those who hide their actions the current version must be passed with a favorable recommendation to the full Senate. Please call and/or email the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today (see below) and ask them to SUPPORT HB 605.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) filed a report highlighting the struggle to stop this bill. Bill sponsor Rep. Jason Spencer noted lobbyists representing the Boy Scouts, the Georgia Catholic Conference, the insurance industry, and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce are working behind the scenes against the bill. The AJC reached out to lobbyists representing each of the organizations opposed to Spencer’s bill but received no response. Why don't they speak publicly about their basis for opposition to this bill?
HB 605 would extend the age from 23 to 38 years old for individuals to sue alleged perpetrators and entities like private schools, youth organizations and churches. It would also expand the discovery period from two to eight years and open a one-year window for an individual of any age to sue both alleged perpetrators and organizations accused of shielding them.
By the time victims of child sexual abuse are able to comprehend the deep mental and emotional damage they suffered and take action to disclose the abuse a decade or more will have passed. By the time they do come forward, the civil statute of limitations has expired and the perpetrator and those that protected them cannot be held accountable.
According to the AJC that one-year window is the biggest sticking point. It is intended to help victims who have already filed lawsuits — such as the one involving a Gainesville scoutmaster accused of raping a 14-year-old Boy Scout three years after admitting, to the pastor of the church that sponsored his troop, to molesting two boys. In that case, a Cobb County judge threw out negligence claims against the Boy Scouts and Gainesville’s First Baptist Church, citing the statute of limitations.
Over the past few years we've seen our elected officials cave over common sense legislation to protect women and children from sexual assault. We need your help today so that our Senators will know you want to protect our children from organizations that hide predators in their midst.
HB 605 will complement existing laws with meaningful civil remedies that will provide justice to victims of child sexual abuse and expose these predators and their enablers.
But there will be no path to justice for these victims if this bill is not passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They need your help today to voice your support for HB 605.
Please call and/or email the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (listed below) today!
Chairman Jesse Stone
Vice Chairman Bill Cowsert
Secretary Blake Tillery
Senator Harold Jones
Senator Elena Parent
Senator John Kennedy
Senator Michael Rhett
Senator Greg Kirk
Senator Brian Strickland
Senator William Ligon
Senator Curt Thompson
Senator Joshua McKoon
Sample email to send the senators:
The Honorable Senator «Full_Name»
Georgia State Senate
Dear Senator «Last_Name»,
I was recently made aware of Rep. Jason Spencer’s Hidden Predator Act (HB 605), which is now being heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I’m writing you in support of the current language of the bill and ask that you vote in favor of the bill recommending passage by the Senate.
By the time victims of child sexual abuse are able to comprehend the deep mental and emotional damage they suffered and take action to disclose the abuse a decade or more might have passed. By the time they do come forward, the civil statute of limitations has expired and the perpetrator and those that protected them cannot be held accountable.
HB 605 will help identify hidden child sexual predators and the entities that protect them. HB 605 will complement existing laws with meaningful civil remedies that will provide justice to victims of child sexual abuse.
I will be watching the progress of the bill, and will continue to alert my friends, neighbors, folks at church, etc. regarding this bill and encourage them to action. I pray you do what is right for the children who are in danger.
For updates on this and other legislation the Party is tracking go to the 2018 Legislative Tracker.