The Hidden Predator Act, HB 605, which passed the House 170 – 0, was diluted in a Senate committee on Thursday.
The goal of the Hidden Predator Act was to increase the statute of limitations for an individual to bring a civil lawsuit against their perpetrator and would allow the victim to sue organizations if they knew of the child sexual abuse.
Since the fallout of the USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar, the USA Board members resigned, and other organizations are taking note.
In Georgia, The Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Chuch in Georgia have voiced fierce opposition to the bill stating the bill will increase perpetual liability on organizations.
Supporters of the bill Georgia improve its standing against sexual predators with many other states in the country by holding organizations accountable for protecting sexual predators. The current law in Georgia ranks as the 5th worst state in the nation to allow victims to confront their perpetrators, and knowing organizations, as adults in a court of law.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee diluted the House version of the bill authored by Rep. Jason Spencer’s (R-Woodbine).
The Senate committee downgraded parts of the bill as follows:
- The discovery rule to bring a civil case of 4 years was removed and returned to the current law’s language of 2 years.
- The maximum age to bring a lawsuit was reduced from age 38 to age 30. The average age of disclosure of the victim. Spencer states that this reduction is “arbitrary” and will cut out a lot of victims from coming forward and “re-victimizes” Georgians who have suffered from sexual abuse.
- Victims can only hold the organization who knew of the abuse accountable if it occurred 12 years before the filing of a lawsuit.
- The Senate’s version also includes many sections of that make it difficult for organizations to be held accountable for sexual abuse.
Spencer states in a media release that the Senate’s version is a “predator/entity-friendly bill” and hopes the bill will pass the full Senate in order to get changes in a House conference committee.
If the bill passes the Senate, he is urging the House leadership to use the House’s version of the Hidden Predator bill before sending the bill to Governor Deal.