In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly made it easier for childhood sexual abuse victims to file lawsuits with the passage of the Hidden Predator Act, HB 17.

Before the passing of HB 17, the statute of limitations was short, and childhood victims were unable to file lawsuits against their perpetrators and organizations later in life unless the victim was able to provide substantial evidence defined by the law. The current law extends the window of time by allowing sexually abused childhood victims to file lawsuits for a period two years.

In the current law, there is a retroactive provision for those individuals who would seek to file lawsuit beyond a certain timeframe for both the statute of limitations and the two-year rule. The law’s retroactive provision window is between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2017.

The new legislative session starts January 9th, 2017 and State Representative Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), the primary author of the law, is seeking to amend language to extend the time a victim can file a civil suit against their perpetrator.  In the new bill, HB 2, the retroactive provision would extend from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2019.

Since the passage of the Hidden Predator Act in 2015, six civil cases have been filed by childhood sexual abuse victims because of the retroactive window provision. Due to the significance of HB 17, the University of Georgia School of Law opened the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic in January of 2016. The clinic will conduct their first conference on January 28, 2017.

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